Chasing My Life Dreams… Backwards

To my readers who are accustomed to hearing about the general Naperville fare that I dish up with somewhat regularity, I hope you will indulge me in sharing my thoughts on some pointed life realizations I’ve had recently which I think might be either familiar or helpful to others out there trying to pursue the many dreams we have in our lives.

I returned last evening from a futurist conference for my industry which focuses on the role of technology in association leadership.  We spent three days observing, considering and imagining the future ahead of us in the way people will engage and interact as they carve out their identities in this new world on both a personal and professional level.  We even took a trip into brand new technology which represents perhaps the first form of pseudo-artificial intelligence which will usher in the web 3.0 era. 

Being wrapped up in the promise of lofty hopes and apsirations for “tomorrow” and moving around in what most of you know to be another one of my favorite worlds, Walt Disney World, I found myself contemplating my own dreams for the future and recalling the hopes and dreams which have led to the present day.

We spend a good deal of our lives in the quest to attain our goals and dreams… our dream job… our dream house… our dream relationship… our dream car… our dream everything.  What we often fail to consider is what it means to attain a dream and what it feels like to actually get there. 

Sometimes in life we climb mountains only to look back down and remember how wonderful life in the valley used to be.  We hope to find the time to relax and reflect, yet the higher the steep narrow landscape of the summit grows the greater the demands on us to continously find ways to not be blown off of the peak.  Further, once we reach that which was a beautiful summit from a distance, we often find discover it turns out to be more harsh and jagged terrain than we expected.  Sometimes we find ourselves lamenting all that we left behind and that which will never be again.  

With that said, it seems to be that a “dream” is an ideal, and sometimes intoxicating, vision of something inherently imperfect in reality.  I feel very blessed that I’ve attained a number of my “dreams” in life yet most often I find that the attainment of a dream either brings unexpected complication to life or signifies the beginning of a new journey.  Dreams don’t often live up to our internalized hype, which explains the reasoning behind the notion that the journey is the destination.

If you live in Naperville, chances are you have a pretty busy life.  After all, it takes quite a bit of effort to afford to live in this wonderful community.  In the busy pace, we rush from point A to B to C to D back to C to E often overlooking the simple moments and pleasures that life brings us but once for a limited time.  The fleeting days of our children’s innocent wonder… the beauty of our changing seasons… the many types of relationships we take for granted thinking they will always be accessible…

As I sat on my balcony at Disney’s Contemporary resort Wednesday evening overlooking the Magic Kingdom fireworks, I encountered the type of pause in life were it all starts to hit you.  I thought of the many trips I’ve taken to Disney over the years during many different stages of my life.  I recalled the hopes and dreams that have come and gone through each chapter of my life.  I thought about the people in my life who have come and gone, some who I will never have the pleasure to speak with again.  I thought about how fast my children are growing and lamenting those days I will never see again.  I thought about experiences from my past which only exist in the time capsule of my mind.

Then it dawned on me.  Regardless of our life’s aspirations, our true dreams are unfolding around us each and every day.  Those unassuming moments which sometimes slip past us in our busy plight.  Those moments in life where if we could just see beyond our stress, fatigue and frustration we could look closely and see that magic is unfolding all around us.  How do I know these things to be true?  It’s because as I’ve grown older, the most powerful dreams have become those of days lost… those moments I failed to appreciate because I was too busy chasing my dreams of the future. 

With this degree of self-awareness, I’ve committed myself to being more patiently aware of these life dreams that unfold around me each and every day… to bask in these all-to-fleeting moments of my daily life… to not become so engulfed by the next big goal… to see the world through my children’s eyes… to pause regularly to soak it all in… to try to take nothing for granted… and, finally, to dream of a future with as little regret as possible.  It doesn’t mean I am abandoning personal goals for the future, but in the present I’m placing a much greater emphasis on chasing my life dreams… backwards.  SM     

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