“I knew I was going to fall short of greatness. So I had to rewrite the story of what greatness was. I had to figure out how to measure success differently. And I also had to figure out what purpose dreams served, if they served them at all. Maybe part of what, you know, was getting in my way was those very dreams. Don’t Let your dreams ruin your life. … The truth that rose up at my humblest, lowest moment was basically that I had to write a book. And that was it. … I had to surrender to the idea of my own mediocrity.”~Cheryl Strayed
I listened to Cheryl Strayed give a talk on how her dreams could have ruined her life. Her words etched themselves into my heart.
This isn’t the first time it has happened. Three years ago I read a collection of letters from her advice column, and her words have never left me. Lately I’ve been thinking about them a lot.
All those what-ifs, all those unfulfilled dreams, all those aspirations from my youth, where do they go when they are left hanging in space.
“I suppose this is what I meant when I wrote what I did, sweet pea, about how it is we cannot possibly know what will manifest in our lives. We live and have experiences and leave people we love and get left by them. People we thought would be with us forever aren’t and people we didn’t know would come into our lives do. Our work here is to keep faith with that, to put it in a box and wait. To trust that someday we will know what it means, so that when the ordinary miraculous is revealed to us we will be there…grateful for the smallest things.” ~Cheryl Strayed
The last five months have been some of the most restorative months of my life. After years of chasing a dream I held so close to my heart and choosing to let it go, I’ve come face to face with those what-ifs, those dreams and those aspirations.
I’ve run a marathon through my hometown. I sat in a room full of people who are single handledly making a global impact on healthcare at a conference down the street from the hospital I was born. I flew to Peru. I watch hundreds of lives change on an operating table. I visited sacred temples. I trusted strangers to guide me down unmarked trails. I lived the dream I wished I had always chased when I was twenty one.
And then I trusted myself. I trusted my heart. I trusted my thirty six years of living. My miracles will never be found by chasing a dream backwards. I let it all go.
“I’ll never know, and neither will you, of the life you don’t choose. We’ll only know that whatever that sister life was, it was important and beautiful and not ours. It was the ghost ship that didn’t carry us. There’s nothing to do but salute it from the shore.” ~Cheryl Strayed
Life has a way of ebbing and flowing. Everything we need finds us when the cycle is right. It also leaves when it no longer serves our purpose.
Today I’m standing on my shore line confident that it belongs to me and confident that it is mine to live. The tide is bringing me everything I need right now.
I’m not chasing the dreams that are behind me.
I’m chasing the dreams that are in front of me.
I’m letting the dreams come to me.
I’m surrendering to this amazing life I live.
I’m here on my shoreline grateful for it all.
(Watch Cheryl Strayed’s talk HERE)