It’s called ‘the edge’ for a reason.
Inch by dreaded inch, you push your land-locked hooves across the gravel and soot. Crushed stone in orange and deep red. More ancient than life itself, without a whisper of effort.
You have made it this far.
You kept creeping forward. Bit by bit. Step by scraping step.
Stiff toes hover now over the jagged cliff. Naught but air and a thousand foot drop separate them — and you — from the ground so far below.
This is the edge.
The one you that thought you wanted. Dreamed of. Demanded.
But when your eyes gaze beyond the abyss below, outward to the horizon with empty terror . . . your breath fallen so short into terse, desperate gasps . . . and every gust of wind — even the gentlest — feels like a fatal blow . . . you start to wonder, second-guess, even regret everything that has brought you here.
Frozen and stiff. Hov’ring upon the edge.
. . . Is it everything you dreamed of?
They are called ‘dreams’ for a reason.
“Sweet dreams,” your mother whispers as she turns off the light.
Young pupils pulse to adjust to the sudden dark. Blinded, a second or three of terrified uncertainty washes across what of you is not enveloped by protective folds of cotton and feather.
The moon stands quietly. The sun has laid to rest. The pitter-patter of a vibrant young heart begins to steady and wane, as your eager mind replays the brilliance and excitement from the day-that-was.
Fun. Laughter. Smiles. Learning and growing. Racing and chasing.
Sweet dreams, she says . . . the door to one day closes. The next, yet to begin. But in between, a flash of endless chance and possibility. Limitlessness. Opportunity. Infinitude. It is time to dream.
Sweet dreams, she says . . . and permission is granted.
As if to dictate what chance scenario might ensue, your still-conscious mind unleashes its unapologetic imagination. Fanciful landscapes. Affable characters. Heroic circumstance. Each detail, so flawlessly ideal.
As children, we dream because we can. “Why” is never asked; no justification is ever required.
But as we age, sleep is not opportune, but opportunity lost.
Sleep we shall, but with reluctant acceptance; as if we forced to resign the day’s fight. And “know-better” hearts refuse to rest, commanding the quick pace of our oft-frenzied minds.
Memories of playground smiles fade into those of rush-hour road rage. Learning and growing curtail into yearning for knowing; the desperate urge to have “figured it all out.” And yet, as we grow older — the more we begin to understand — the less we seem to know.
Dreams begin to lose their luster, merely revealing the hidden workings of our subconscious thoughts; a minefield of anguish and unknown, as if the space between our ears were some desolate battlefield in a war of “We” against “Ourselves.”
But they are called dreams for a reason.
The endless promise and limitlessness of dreams — what frees us as children — is what cripples us as adults with paralyzing anxiety, dreadful uncertainty, and the black depths of unknown.
To dare to dream of the path before your feet is just the same to invite one ominous step too far, into a trail unknown, down an irreversible course.
As children, we dream because we can.
Grown, our matured fears of the unknown — of the road less traveled — ground dreams long before they can take flight.
The road is ‘less traveled’ for a reason.
Hiking boots are required.
The path may be rough. It is unknown, desolate, lonely. But to you, it beckons like a canvas to the painter; a track to the runner; a stage to the singer; empty paper to the writer.
Boulders may litter your path. Walk around them.
No, you cannot ever see beyond the present moment. Accept this. A flower does not know if the sun will rise again, but it never stops reaching for the sky.
Within this present moment — only here, never anywhere else — is the only opportunity you need. It is the only opportunity that exists. This one. And this one. All action happens here. It can only happen right here, now.
Permit your brilliant mind to dare to imagine what may lay beyond the sunset, for no one else will tuck you in and turn off the light to grant it for you. You can begin to create, to build, right now.
But far more than the “What,” you must ask yourself… why?
Remember the jagged cliff?
When you look with terror beyond the abyss, the “What” that got you there is almost meaningless.
Why did I want to write a book? Create this product? Spread this idea? Give this talk? Why put myself out there to fail, to crumble, to be judged and criticized, to be slandered and vilified, to either fly or fall to my disastrous end?
When you reach the edge — when you question, doubt, fear, and begin to regret everything — the “What” won’t matter one damn. The “Why” will.
“Why” is what pushes your toes to hover over the edge crippling self-doubt. “Why” is all of the reasons that move you, push you, fuel you, sustain you, give you life and empower you to flourish.
“What” will let you down.
“Why” will keep you grounded, and it will give you flight.
Reasons. You need to understand yours. And you need to understand their roots in what you do; and how you live; and what you dream of; and what you strive for. Unearth the “why” beyond the “what.”
The “what” — the ends, the objectives, the goals, the things and sums and stuff — will always change because their worth is ultimately trivial.
The “why” — every element behind your personal values, lifelong aspirations, deeply-rooted dreams, the fundamental core of your Being, the place from which every decision and action and word originates — is unshakeable.
Not concrete, but steadfast. Not static, but unshakably you. Your roots. Your feet, firmly grounded. The pristine, precisely-cut glass holder of your candle, upon which the flame of your soul burns.
Reasons. What are yours?
Answer for yourself, or warmly open your heart and share with us in a comment below.
Flickr photo by natamagat