The Dark, Lonely, and Beautiful Path
Everyone has at least one unfulfilled dream.
Some pinnacle imagined but never climbed. Some trophy never won, or even tried for. Some person we imagined we would become … but didn’t.
We all twist and toss with the tempest of our being.
At whatever stage of the game we are (young, old, somewhere in between), we wonder what we should fight for, and what we should surrender. Is this the time to hold out or is it the time to give in? Must we pursue or forsake this dream or that one or the others? Is it okay to be who we are without those dreams fulfilled? Are we happy?
Because we can, after all, aggressively attack the limits of our own existence, or we can acquiesce to “Oh well, this is my life.”
I know enough people who are unhappy in their current lives. They are vaguely uneasy or hugely miserable, but unhappiness lurks in much of what they do. They try to hide it, but it surfaces as unhappiness is prone to do, a buoy that can’t be held under the water for very long.
Some are doing nothing about their discontent except surviving it, each and every day, hour by hour, sometimes moment by moment. Somehow it feels noble to them, or they are just so very tired.
Some have found the trail out of their mental and emotional woods, but they are walking with the softest and most hesitant of steps, unwilling or scared to wake the beasts who they are certain lumber off the trail, waiting to pounce upon the soul bound for freedom.
Everyone knows at least a few victims of society. Everyone has heard the frenzied attacks and seen the bones laying afterward, the remnants of a life that can eat even the best of us. The survivors who made it to the light of their dreams are few and seem unreal somehow, mystical in their triumph, unworldly in this world. Who could be them? Who could really live their dreams? Surely not us, we think.
And some have walked on the trail of freedom toward their dreams, but turned back of their own accord: “It’s too hard,” they say. There are partners and children and jobs and responsibilities. They chose one map and so they think they must follow it forever, the footsteps of their one and only life committed to a path they selected back in the days before wrinkles and wisdom.
I don’t have the answers for any of these people. (I barely have the answers for myself.)
But this I know: if your soul calls to you daily to be somewhere else, if it whispers to you in the quiet moments that you are not living your best and most full life, if you are haunted by the ghosts of untraveled roads and unfulfilled dreams, if you know that a greater good beats in your breast and your skills have been wasted in the pursuit of this man’s money or that woman’s dreams, then perhaps you owe it to yourself—to who you were and are and could be—to take a step on the path of your dreams. One step. See how it feels. Then maybe take another. See how it goes. Set your jaw and take one more.
The path toward your dreams may be dark and lonely and full of all the monsters that ever roared in your mind (this will not be easy and you will be so scared) but that lonely and dark and yet somehow beautiful path ends in freedom, if you can make it there.
You will need to be strong. You will need to be kind. You will need to love everyone, including yourself.
And you will need to be a little deaf, and refuse to hear the quiet (or noisy) pleadings of those who love you and don’t want you on that path, because they are scared too and they want you to stay where it is safe, but where you know you are dying without ever having really lived. Love those people, but keep walking if you must. None of this will be easy. None of it will happen as quickly as you want or as smoothly as you hope. And nothing good will come without cost.
But it is all possible.
So, the only question left is the same one you started with all those years ago when your lungs first opened in this world and you sucked in the air of this gorgeous and ultimately deadly existence: What will you do with this life?