This morning I finished a short, hot and hilly run. I despise hills especially when I’m out of shape and just trying to get back on my run game. For years, I dreamed of being a runner and while I’ve had a fair amount of success completing half marathons and even a couple of sprint triathlons the process of training is always brutal. As impressive as my posts about running may seem on social media, if I am honest … I’m not even that good. So consistently depositing effort each day by practicing running helps ensure I am able to run my best race. And so I run. Even though it’s hot. Even though it’s sweaty and grimy. Even though at times it is painful. And even though I may not be that good. I run because I am a runner. I don’t daydream about running. I don’t spend time talking about what it would be like to be a runner. I don’t wish I could run. I just run. And I keep showing up run after run pushing harder, running farther and eventually I become the runner I wanted to be. Faster. Better. Stronger. One step at a time.
And isn’t that so much like life? How often are we doing what it takes to accomplish our goals and live out our dreams? How often are we doing the work required to manifest our dreams versus thinking about all of the reasons we cannot? “I don’t have time.” “I don’t have money.” “I’m so busy.” “I need to go back to school.” Enough. So this morning I decided I’m done chasing my dreams. Instead I will run for my life. Either I am going to pursue life with relentless passion and fervor or I’m going to shut up talking about my false dreams and accept reality. We only get one chance at this. And doggone it… I’m ready to live.
Let’s be real. Chasing our dreams is the classic case of the “grass is greener on the other side” syndrome. Looking at life through a glass window wishing you could afford to buy what’s on the other side is pointless. What about the grass on this side of the window? What if we nurtured it? Fertilized it? Pruned it now? What if we worked with the tools, resources and gifts God has already given us to make the most of life today? Instead, we waste hours and days of our lives coveting other people’s stuff, wishing their lives were our own and the result is often a bunch of nothingness. No forward movement. No progress. Just empty dreams that we chase with no intention of ever catching them.
One of my favorite quotes from Shonda Rhimes’s book Year of Yes is “Dreamers dream and doers do.” WHAT?!! When I read this it took a few moments for the words to really sink in. Am I dreaming of a great life or living one? I thought about all of the years, and people, and conversations I’d had about my passion for writing and how much I knew I was called to write. I thought back to the first time I knew God had taken me through hell and back so that I could share the story of my journey and healing with others. This dream has been easily 11 years in the making; actually longer if I really think about it. I knew I was called to write as a child. And yes I do write. I write copy for my clients. I write briefs for projects. I occasionally edit a resume or write a bio for a friend. But what have I really done with my gifts, my talents and my dreams? So yeah Shonda, I’ll admit. I’ve been dreaming about writing more than I’ve been doing it. I’ve been chasing my dreams about writing rather than working on becoming a good writer.
It’s an interesting phenomenon really. One of my advisers recently fussed at me for this very thing. “Too many times” she said. “We are so busy responding to what we believe is urgent, that we lose sight of what’s most important. We trade the important for the urgent. When we start doing the things that are important though… that’s when shit really gets done.” Wow! I thought. She was right. Spending all of this time dreaming of writing, dreaming of telling my story, dreaming of publishing a book really meant I was doing just that. Dreaming. Talk. Talk. Talk. And doing nothing to make that dream a reality. So I declare it today. I will stop dreaming and start doing. I will do what I am supposed to do to live my dreams.
After I finished the run, cooled off and stopped fussing about how hot and hilly it was, I smiled because it was over and I was one step closer to running my best race ever. I finished what I set out to do. It didn’t matter that I was slow or that I walked a little or even that I stumbled and grumbled along the way. What did matter is that I took a few steps toward my goal. What mattered most was that today I did not dream about running. I ran.
As I went home to shower and get ready for work, happiness found me. And it stayed with me throughout the day. In the end, I felt a little more accomplished, a little more proud and I was satisfied in the simplicity of knowing that progress was made. Today I didn’t chase my dreams. I ran for my life. The life I have. And the life I’ve been dreaming of.