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“When you understand that it’s foolish to look for fire with fire, the meal is already cooked.” –Wumen

I came across this quote in puzzlement. What exactly is that supposed to mean? Then it struck me as very clever.

How many of us spend our lives setting goals? Big or small, real or imagined, we reach for attainment of a better life. Goals are individual, because we all have our own sense of what that better life entails.  But when do we reach it? After what goal do we finally reach satisfaction?

Goals can be a very strong and positive influence in life.  We attain confidence and success as we achieve them. Yet often these goals can also become a distraction from the life we are already living. We’re so concerned with getting to the next step, that we don’t realize the step we’re on. There will always be a next step, and a step after that. But none of these steps will lead anywhere greater than what we keep inside. We all have a fire within us, and it’s then that we realize the meal is already cooked.

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined. — Henry David Thoreau

As I packed up the last of my things for yet another move this year, I came across a small framed picture bearing the quote above. I remember the first time I read those words, and how I fell in love. “Yes.” I thought. “That is for me.” And so the little black frame has  traveled with me in every different direction I felt my dreams were taking me.  

Now as I gear up for the latest direction, I read the words again. It sounds so simple. And yet…persuing my dream has left me distracted, frustrated, homeless, lost, broke… just to name a few.  In ten hours I’m moving to the East Coast and I’m shaking in my $2 flip-flop sandals. I barely have a hundred dollars in my bank account and I’m about to drive 20 hours by myself to live in a place I’ve never been. Again. Go confidently?

As I read my question again, I realize the answer can only be yes. It has to be. There are so many reasons why you shouldn’t follow a dream…and if you ever forget, just listen to the people around you. But truly believing in a dream means the rest doesn’t matter. Despite the missteps it takes to get there, no matter the falls or injuries, you just have to keep getting up and going confidently until you get there. You have one life; live it the way you have imagined.

SailingOne doesn’t discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.
Andre Gide (1869 – 1951)

I don’t think I slept much at all last night. Or, much at all this year come to think of it. I picture what Columbus must have felt as he set to sail. Did he have sleepless nights, wondering where his ship might go? 

While Columbus believed the world was round, most people of his Era were sure it was flat.  He could have listened to them. He could have silenced his inner belief and followed along. But instead, he chose to sail.

Once on their journey, Columbus and his crew battled starvation, volatile weather and deteriorating ships. Worse yet, his own crew lost faith in the mission and even plotted his death. But they persevered and eventually opened the Eastern world’s eyes to a whole new shore.

I know Columbus’ treatment of natives makes him a less than worthy role model, but I still find the scenario that surrounds his belief and his journey fascinating. If he can take his belief to the edge of the earth, through every obstacle and rocky condition, then perhaps I can feel a little more secure in my journey. Even when others doubt what I believe. Even when conditions make me nervous. I’ll choose to sail.

Nothing is more conducive to peace of mind than not having any opinion at all. –G.C. Lichtenberg

Once you form an opinion, you show that you care. And caring means you have to feel it when things don’t go your way. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told my friends, “I wish I could just not care.”

But caring is also what makes us human. How dull would life be if we didn’t feel? Ironic that a main sign of depression is “loss of interest in normal daily activities,” or basically, not caring.

There goes our piece of mind.

The secret of happiness is to make others believe they are the cause of it. –Al Batt, in National Enquirer

The other day, my friend thanked me and told me I helped him in a way no one else could.  I couldn’t  take the credit for anything he accomplished, but I did appreciate his gratitude. It made me happy, and made me want to help even more.

They say, based on certain happiness research studies, that the real key to happiness has something to do with gratitude. The people who seem to be the most happy are those who can find things in their life to be grateful for.

Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have. –Eckhart Tolle

There are a lot of quotes on the past, the present and the future. It seems people are, in some form, always juggling the three.

There is the past, where all events and experiences shape us into who we are today.

Then there’s the future, for which we plan and prepare for.

And ultimately, you have the present…each ticking second that we’re in.  

I’d like to believe we can all find a way to live in the present. Enjoy each moment for which we have it. But factors from the past will always impact the present. And it’s true the future may never come… but what if it does?

That said, I think we can limit how much of the past and future we let into our lives. Take each moment for what it is. Stop dwelling on the past–we can’t change it. Stop worrying about the future–it doesn’t help. Instead, focus on the moments we’re in–it’s what we have.

A prince never lacks legitimate reasons to break his promise. –Niccolo Machiavelli

A year ago, my credit card statement was getting a little high. In a fit of self-anger, I immediately cut my card into tiny little pieces. Gone.  A few months down the road, and there were some financial issues I needed to deal with. I called up my company, reported the card lost and got a new one. Soon I was spending a  little here, a little there, and yesterday I looked at my card statement. Needless to say, my card is lying in tiny pieces. 

I don’t get it. I promised myself this wouldn’t happen. I was so sincere that I’d keep my spending under control. So why couldn’t I keep that promise? At any given moment, we can have the most honest intentions that lead to real promises. Change a few circumstances, let time pass, and those intentions can sometimes be forgotten.

In another situation, I’m stuck. There are some promises I want to believe, despite a clear history against it. But when it really boils down, I think it’s the intentions that have me fooled. These promises are made with the best intentions. But things just seem to keep changing, and the follow-through can be easier said than done.

Fate is like a strange, unpopular restaurant, filled with odd waiters who bring you things you never asked for and don’t always like. –Lemony Snicket

Dinner at my parent’s house was never up for negotiation. “I’m not running a restaurant,” my mom used to say. “You’ll eat what we’re having.”

My parents made the best spaghetti. And stir-fry day was fabulous. But their meatloaf reminded me of cat food, and I was never too excited about green peas. Still…we ate what we were served.

As an adult, I can appreciate the different meals they made us. I had a healthy childhood with a variety of nutrients. Sometimes I liked it, sometimes I didn’t…but I can’t imagine the health issues I’d have if they would have catered to my sweet childhood requests.

In a less simple sense, I wonder if fate doesn’t work the same way. Sometimes we’re happy with what we get, and sometimes we hate it. And sometimes we think we know what we want. But when looking back down the road, how often are we suprised with the way things had to happen?

Every beginning is a consequence – every beginning ends some thing. –Paul Valery

Most of the time, you’re so focused on new events that you don’t even notice what chapters in your life are ending. Inevitably it has to happen; that’s how we grow. But sometimes it’s hard to look back and realize the things we used to have and the things we had to give up. Did we fully appreciate the moments? And how sad that we rarely get a proper goodbye.

“When a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to help that person to realize his dream.” — Paulo Coelho

I give up.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said that. Or how many times I’ve felt that. Or how many times I’ve heard that from other people. It’s like sometimes, everything is stopping us…no matter what, we can’t win. That must be a sign…right? It’s just not meant to be. So we let it go.

That’s when I think we syphon out our real dreams.  Because obstacles are just there to test how bad we really want something. And it stops the people who don’t care enough. So when we keep standing up, and keep fighting and finally get there, we can appreciate it that much more. So rather than get upset and angry at all of these barriers and problems… perhaps we can look at them as tests to see what we really want out of life. What are we willing to go that extra mile for?

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