I very clearly remember nearly 20 years ago sitting in my 6th grade class. Every day, I would look out the window during class and watch cars pass by on the interstate. I always wondered who was riding in those cars, where they came from, and where they were going. I wondered what they would get to see, do, and experience along the way. I wanted to go where they were going and experience that journey. I still do this quite often when I see a plane fly overhead.
As a 6th grader, you most likely haven’t had a chance to see much of the world yet. I know I hadn’t. All you can do at that age is dream and wonder what is out there to experience in this world. I not only wanted to see the places these people were traveling to, but I also wanted to experience what life is like in those places. To a 6th grader, those places were all just dots on a map hanging on a classroom wall, or on a page in a textbook.
I don’t want to sound like I knew how my life would turn out or that I could tell the future in anyway, but I just knew that I needed to travel and experience new places someday. The last place in the world I wanted to be was in a classroom in North Dakota looking out the window and wondering what was out there. Life happens, whether it’s the way you want it to happen or not. You can dream and wish, but things don’t always turn out the way you had hoped. You have to roll with the punches and keep living life.
That school year had been especially difficult for me, because I was recovering from my third surgery in less than three years. I spent a lot of time sitting at home not able to do much. When all you’re really able to do is sit at home while you recover, you start to think about a lot of things. You start to dream of better times and a better situation. Somehow, I just felt like I knew I would end up traveling and experiencing new places someday. Looking back, it’s crazy to think about, because I have spent several years of my life traveling, and I now live on the opposite side of the country from where I grew up.
That time in my life taught me that you can’t just accept the things other people tell you. If you want something badly enough, you can find a way to make it happen. The only limitations you have are the ones you place upon yourself. I wanted to play on the 6th grade basketball team at my school that year, but my doctor told me it wasn’t possible, because my leg would never be healed in time to play after my most recent surgery. I remember leaving the doctor’s office after being told basketball wasn’t an option for me that year. The first words I said to my mom when we got into the car after that appointment were, “I’m playing. I’ll find a way to make it happen.” This isn’t a surprise to any of my former classmates who may be reading this, but I did play that year. That was just one of many times in my life I was told by somebody else that something I wanted to do was impossible, and I proved them wrong.
We all have dreams, but how many people actually dare to chase them and refuse to accept “no” for an answer? Anybody can dream. Anybody can wish for things to happen. Unfortunately, that’s where the dream ends for many people… wishing and hoping. I was incredibly fortunate to live my lifelong dream for several years, but eventually the time came where I needed to find a new dream. I am now chasing that dream. It’s not easy. To be honest, trying to find a way to make it happen has been brutally difficult for the past two years. People have told me to give up and find something else to do with my life. I have been told things like that by countless people throughout my life, not just now. I believe there is ALWAYS a way to make your dreams become your reality. You just have to be patient, stay focused, and keep moving forward. I’m not going to go into specific details, but, if I were interested in taking the safe route in life and doing things the easy way, I would have gone running back home last year and would have settled for a life that I have no interest in living. Lots of people do it. It makes me sad to see someone get excited about a new adventure in life, just to give up when things don’t go as planned. I am trying to find a way to not let that happen to me. My current life isn’t perfect, but I’m in a much better situation now than I was a year ago. Over the next year, I hope I get to the point where I’m light-years ahead of where I am now. You don’t get to pick when things finally fall into place in your life. Life happens when it wants to happen, and it’s usually when you least expect it.
My life hasn’t turned out the way I thought it would when I was sitting in that classroom 19-20 years ago, and that is perfectly fine. The journey of my life since that time has led me to where I am today, and will take me to where I am supposed to eventually end up. Everybody dreams, but not everybody dares to experience the journey of really, truly living life. You can go through life the safe way and never take any chances, but you will miss out on a journey of living life fully in this wonderful world of ours. Don’t look back at life and ask “What if…?”. Look back at life and say, “I lived.”