This week I’ve challenged myself to finish a book.
Sounds easy enough, right?
Well, yes and no.
See, I have this thing about books. And TV shows. And life. I don’t like endings.
If you came over to my apartment, you would see an entire bookcase filled with books read ¾ of the way through. The bookmarks are still in them. It’s almost comical at this point. I’ve always had this thing about endings. I think I’m so terrified of reaching a “wasted-time ending” that, when I get close, I’d rather shut the book and imagine the rest.
The problem with this habit is that all endings aren’t bad. And when I choose to forgo the potentially bad ones, I’m also missing out on the potentially good ones. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. As a book reader, this is silly. But in life, it’s an all too real situation.
How often do we step back from something because of the potential for it going bad – shutting off the little voice in our minds that says, “But what if it works out?” Sure, by never taking chances, you can be safe and free from the embarrassment or disappointment of failure. But what about the rewards of succeeding in something that seemed impossible!?
If you know me well, you probably know I’m obsessed with Alice In Wonderland. It’s one of my favorite books/movies/tv shows. I love how it breaks conventional rules about how a story becomes relatable to readers, and when I was a kid I named my cat Dinah (the name of Alice’s cat). One of my favorite Lewis Caroll lines, from Alice in Wonderland, is about thinking up six impossible things before breakfast.
I actually do this.
At first it was just for fun, but after a while, I started to notice “impossible” things actually coming true; not that they were popping up out of nowhere, but that I was starting to notice them. Verbalizing, or writing things down, is an awesome way to be able to look back, and see your impossibilities becoming realities. These become milestones in our lives.
A few years ago, when I wanted to go to India, I was broke, I was a college student with a 20-credit load, I had never been out of the country and no one I knew had ever been to India before. But it felt right. And I’m a big believer in following gut feelings. When I found out how much the trip would cost, I sat down and wrote out how I could, even potentially, make enough money. It didn’t add up. It was impossible.
So, I wrote God a note. Classy, I know.
“Ok, God. I feel like this trip is something I’m supposed to go on. I have no independent travel experience, no idea what I’m doing, and financially this is ridiculous to even think about. But, if you want me to go, I’ll trust you. I have no idea where this money is going to come from, but I trust you to get me there.”
I folded up the note and stuck it in my journal. Then I went about my life, applying for visas and passports with money that seemed to come out of nowhere. I got offered a job that fit perfectly with my class schedule, and a raise at my other job completely spontaneously.The trip was going to cost me $2500 and, in addition, I needed probably $75 for spending money etc.
After buying all of my gear, getting shots and paying for passports/visas, I looked in my bank account: $2576.00
I dreamt about something impossible. And ended up half way around the world as a result. I tried something that had little to no chance of being able to happen, and trusted that the money would come if it was meant to be. It was blind faith, an unknown ending. I could have ended up getting to the end of the whole process and not having enough money. I could have failed. I could have wasted hours working my butt off, only to fall flat on my face. I had no idea, until the week I was flying out, that there would be a “happy ending”.
But there was.
That trip changed my life, in so many ways, that I couldn’t even possibly begin to write them here. Without it, I would not be the person I am today. Seeing the impossible become possible changes you.
My brother used to always say, “Fear isn’t in the present. It’s only something that lives in the future.”
When we allow it to overcome us, we’re, essentially, being crippled before we’ve even met our opponent.
For each of us, our fears are different. Maybe it’s something huge like traveling around the world. Maybe it’s small, like finishing a book. But, regardless, it’s so much more rewarding to fight for the impossibilities that we’re drawn to. We don’t know the future, so why fear it?
Instead, today, let’s think up some impossible things, dream a little bigger, and blindly take a leap of faith – or just finish a book.
“Throw yourself to the edge that you’re always scared of. Try being independent; do it your way. You’ll love it.”