Sunday, April 19, 2015

That Time When I Gave Up On Giving Up

Maybe you're a little like me. Once upon a time you dreamed big dreams, you envisioned yourself in a career or a relationship, or pursuing that thing that you were passionate about. You were young and you were awkward and your clothes didn't always match, but that didn't matter, because your ego hadn't completely taken over and you were still impervious to the World of Success and Dream-Crushing. When you were three, maybe you wanted to be a fireman or princess; when you were sixteen, maybe you wanted to travel to Africa and set up malaria clinics or be a Hollywood actor.

But at some point, you gave up on your dreams. Maybe it was the Dream-Crushing World, or maybe it was one or two people who beat you down, little by little each day, and you learned, like me, to settle. Yes, you showed signs of passion and inspiration, because the light inside never really dies, but storm clouds became the norm. First it was a few days without seeing the sun, then a few weeks, and then maybe twenty years. Life refused to slow down to let you somehow get out of this stunned and shocked feeling, in fact it sped up as you began to get a little older.

Your dreams became mere fantasies rather than a life that was achievable. Somewhere in there, you learned to retreat deep into your head, over-thinking your obsessions, and obsessing about your over-thinking. Living turned into thinking.

Whatever the reason that it happened, it happened. Maybe it was a result of being the ugly duckling at school. Maybe it was major depression and other mental illnesses. Maybe it was a parent, like the one at the coffee shop today who looked at her maybe-seven-year-old boy and told him "Stop being a friggin' ass, you're never coming here with me again." Maybe someone stole your innocence when you were completely powerless.

Have you settled? Have you given up? Giving up can take many forms and it has many faces. Maybe you stay in bed everyday until two in the afternoon and refuse to get help. Maybe you carry yourself very well in a decent career, but quietly you hate it and wonder "How did I ever get here?"

As long as there is breath, there is something in our favour. There is choice, and a chance to start dreaming again. What is it that you want to do? Who is it that you want to be? When will you allow yourself to be vulnerable enough to fall madly in love, even if it means getting your heart broken?

I'm not sure of a whole lot of things today. But in a week, in a month, in a year, I can look back and say, "Remember that time when I gave up on giving up?"

Mark Andrew Nouwen