I have a love affair with New Age music. Give me Yanni. And Enya. Over Hard Rock. Country. Ear-splitting heavy metal. Any day. My taste in music is rather eclectic. New Age ranks pretty highly. In Yanni’s 2009 album Yanni Voices, Leslie Mills sang a number called “Before the Night Ends”. A song which has strummed chords on the windows of my soul lately. My life is becoming full circle. Not a moment too soon. I will revisit this later.
I’ve had countless conversations with friends, family, even total strangers about dreams they have. Adventures they long to pursue. One of these days. “Before they kick it”. Predictably, the ending comes with a long drawn out sigh. Words to the effect of “One of these days, I will do ……. (Fill in the blanks). I just don’t have time. Nor the money. Maybe when circumstances change. And things get better”. These words have fallen from my lips. Until reality bit.
Tell me if the following does not reek with the curse of familiarity. Many attend college. Get a degree. Then a job. Work for decades. Save for retirement. Somewhere in between, start a family. Raise kids. Help pay for a wedding. If not all of it. A vacation or two is squeezed in somewhere. Maybe once per year. Or every few years. Retirement arrives. In all its glory. So are the days spent seeing one health specialist after another. Or perhaps playing bingo. Or bridge at the local community centre. Some are caught raising grandkids. Or babysitting them. Others volunteer. Before you know it. Your time is up. Death has dues which must be paid. An alarming number of people fit this mold. Don’t they? Scary.
Let’s put religion and philosophy aside. At least for this post. Humor me.Please. What do you want to make of life? What are the things you dream of doing? Let’s list some examples: travel. Run a marathon. Write a book. Find a cause and fight for it. Develop a new talent. Go kayaking. Or sky diving. Learn a new language. Or a new dance. Act on stage. Do a standup comedy act. Sing karaoke in public. Take part in a competition. Be homeless for a day. Organize a charity fundraiser. Attend the concert of your favorite artist. Start a business. Return to school. Offer your services pro bono. Truly the list is infinite. Hopes and dreams so far out of reach. One day. Is the vow.
I am not advocating irresponsibility. Nor reckless abandon. Let alone throw caution to the wind. Heck, I am not even suggesting you become an overnight adrenaline junkie. Just a nudge in the direction of pursuing your dreams. Perhaps with more vigor. More meaning. Intensity. As if you won’t ever get the chance again. How long will you live? What will happen to you between now and then? If only anyone knew. That’s just it. No one does. There are no do over’s. Just fresh starts.
Fear is a reason why we don’t pursue our dreams. It may not work. A train wreck in the making. We are afraid of failure. Before even trying. Don’t forget what others might think. Or say. Or do. We want it. Sure sounds nice. However, we don’t even want it bad enough. We have a changeable list. Depending on circumstances. We cross out and replace. It seems so silly now. An asinine childhood dream. Mature adults put away self-indulgent fantasies don’t they? But wait. Perchance there is another reason. One we are afraid to tell ourselves. The fact we just don’t have the gumption. The nerve. Get-up-and-go.
We can’t overlook the possibility of wasting precious time. And resources. On a venture which may never come to fruition. So why even bother? These are some of the things we tell ourselves. When we try to rationalize away our failure to try. When we look in the mirror. And stare at the only person standing in our way. The things we tell ourselves to sleep better at night. Things that give comfort when we are alone with our thoughts. When the silent, inner battle continues to rage. Fiercely within our souls. Battles which can easily be won with one resolve. Courage.
Sure, some things take time. Resources. Careful planning. Others do not. We have vivid memories of the time when a dream was within our grasp. With trepidation, we reached forward. Hands trembling. Fists closed. But Alas! Frayed nerves took over. The smell of failure distorted our vision. Unable to see clearly. We stumbled. We saw a sign with the words “WHAT IF” in bold letters.
The immediate thought is to quit now. And try later. We pulled back. And retreated. Boy that was close!! Maybe some other time. Except of course that time never comes. Fast forward to old age. If we are lucky. Circumstances have drastically changed. Sure we have time. But what else? Empty nest syndrome has quietly let itself in. Taken up permanent residence. Resources might be limited. Good health depends on the weather. And other circumstances.
Some of my readers might think this post is too satirical. Downright disconcerting. No one is comfortable contemplating the possibility their life will mimic the scenes described above. No way. This post perfectly describes someone else. Think for a moment. Or more. If someone writes your autobiography, think how it will seem to readers. Will it be a struggle to get past the introduction? Or will they stay up all night to see what happens next? Yes, some of us want a quiet, peaceful existence. We simply want to work. Raise our kids. And be happy. Nothing wrong with that.
However, if you are anything like the rest of us. You want all the above and more. To grab life by the horns. And don’t let go. To live your dreams. Write your own life story. Instead of it being written for you. To live life with no regrets. You are fully aware of the things you want to do. You would rather regret the things you did do, instead of those you did not do. Then I am speaking to you. To the part of you that has been restrained for too long. The inner spirit which looks around and crave more. A lot more. You are restless. Fidgety. It’s like asking a two-year old to sit through an hour-long meeting with arms folded. Uh huh. You should be making things happen. You don’t care about resolutions. Things are either going to happen. Or they are not. You know who you are. Go on. Get out. Get yours.
Back to why I mentioned the song “Before the Night Ends”. In summary, the songwriter hopes to find her love before the night comes to a close. No matter what. I have included a link below for your listening pleasure. I am taking a few years off before I return to school to pursue a doctorate. I have thought long and hard about what I want to do until then. I have even toyed with the idea of putting it off for a bit longer. Travel and teach. Pursue new interests. Volunteer. Etc.
I can see the ones who like comfort zones. And safety blankets. Shaking their heads. The wheels are churning. Furiously. The natural order of things after earning a graduate degree, would be to either get a well-paying job or return to school. Surely, this places me in a position to earn a six figure income in the next several years. Pad my bank account. Secure my retirement. Save for the European cruise. Add to the list of should. This is what the world says. True. What family expects. That is a given. What friends will advise. They are trying to help right?
This is how I see it. There will be time to make money. A lot of it. Whether or not I have money, I have chosen to be happy. To be at peace with my decisions. There will be time to enjoy the fruit of my labors. I refuse to say decades from now: “How I wish I had…”.Instead, I let work, things, and the ever popular wet blankets get in the way. Who is to say I am going to live to enjoy all the money I have stashed away for decades? Now I am not going to be careless, by not planning for a financially secure future. That is if it comes. A girl has to have her wits about her. Same for the guys. However. In the interim. I will do the things which make me happy. I will live my best life.
Finally, whether you are in your 20’s, 30’s like me, 40’s whatever….before the night ends…what do you hope for? How will this hope become a reality? Before “your teeth are in a cup, eyes on the shelf, and ears on the nightstand”, I hope we are chasing our dreams. Not someone else’s. Let alone what everyone expects you to do. That you are living your best life. Or doing something about it. If you were viewing scenes of your life years from now. Let’s hope you enjoy what you see.
Enjoy this Leslie Mills number :
Until the next post,