Monthly Archives: May 2014

When Everything Stops

Sometimes everything in your life just comes to a stop. An abrupt realization. It can be on the street corner waiting for the green light to cross. In a grocery store staring at the price of an avocado versus sliced ham. On a ridge looking out over a beautiful golden sunset. Maybe simply sitting idle at home. In these moments of clarity, everything can come to a halt. During an action you have repeating many times before you find yourself dumbstruck in contemplation on how you got to this point in your life. What decisions led you to the outcome and path you are on. It then opens up an even more complicated set of questions regarding the choices you have been making lately and the ones you are bound to make in the future.

These are rare times that allow us to step outside our own psyche and have a good hard look at ourselves. How in fact did we come to this point? I’m not talking getting into your car and driving to the store. I am talking bigger picture. For instance, how did you end up with that car? Where do you live and why do you live there? Where did you live before that and why? Who are your close friends and why are they? Where do you work? Where did you work before that? Why did you leave that job? Where did you go to college or why didn’t you? Who is your significant other? How did that come about and what has changed? Were all of these decisions based on personal choice or an outside influence?

When you start asking yourself these questions do you feel at all defensive about the answers you are giving? Do you feel embarrassed of your present state, instead of being proud? It is not hard to feel trapped by the choices we think we have to make in life. There is no better feeling than being completely in control of your own path. Life is a maze and navigating our way through it can be difficult. There are dead ends all over the place and all of the exits seem to lead to another room of more complex mazes. A never-ending circus that seems to come back with crazier acts each year.

Here is an exert from Ayn Rand’s powerful work and magnum opus ‘Atlas Shrugged’ that has really stuck with me recently.
“I don’t like the thing that’s happening to people, Miss Taggart.”
“I don’t know. But I’ve been watching them for twenty years and I’ve seen the change. They used to rush through here, and it was wonderful to watch, it was the hurry of men who knew where they were going and were eager to get there. Now they’re hurrying because they’re afraid. It’s not a purpose that drives them, it’s fear. They’re not going anywhere, they’re escaping. And I don’t think they know what it is they want to escape. They don’t look at one another. They jerk when brushed against. They smile too much, but it is an ugly kind of smiling: it’s not joy, it’s pleading. I don’t know what it is that’s happening to the world.” He shrugged.

Be proud, be confident and be sure what you want out of life. Don’t let others decide for you. Everyday we are forced to make little choices, which eventually culminate over time in bigger life decisions. If you ride the bus everyday, and hate it, eventually you will want to get a car. This then turns into a whole other set of expenses, from the initial cost, to maintenance, insurance, gas and accident repair. If you love your car then more power to you, but if by buying that car it inhibits you from spending money/time on the things you truly love doing, was it really worth it?

I myself have had these moments of sudden contemplation and realization several times in my life. It has never been accompanied by negative feelings, but sometimes one of puzzlement. When I try to retrace the footprints of my life it can become very convoluted and confusing when I see all the forks in the road. But looking back there are no regrets. I wouldn’t want to live that way. Everything is a culmination. A build up to something more, something bigger than myself, like ‘Cycling Around the World’. If I hadn’t started moving outside my comfort zone and exploring new areas of personal development, I would have never gotten this far.

Take those moments when everything stops and really have a hard look at how you got to that point. We are makers of our own fortunes, so embrace or change the outcome. It is your race, your maze and your circus.

Years in the Making

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” 
~ Howard Thurman

The clock is ticking forward ever closer. Moving like a raging river through the days towards my initial departure, July 7th. Two months to go before I leave on my world cycling tour. It looms with great excitement, apprehension, joy and of course, sadness. Like any other time I have moved to a new stage of my life, these feelings and more have always poked their heads. But this time it is different. It is the biggest and boldest move I have made. The life I know now, will never be the same again. By taking this step I am giving up a lot, hoping to have it returned in different forms. Looking for that great adventure and personal challenge.

There was a time when I could not have imagined doing something like ‘Cycling Around the World’‘. My experiences, goals and dreams were localized, short-sighted and shallow. For a time, I was acting on behalf of others and not for myself. By coming to understand what I wanted to achieve in this life and then acting upon it, I have become a much happier person. Around the same time, a number of my other relationships also began to improve. I felt a greater connection with people and depth of conversation. I gave time to the people I wanted in my life and was much more open to welcoming new ones in.

There is a huge difference between doing things for self-fulfillment and self-satisfaction. By acting on something you know will make your life irreparably different, if not better, is not selfish. This is called following your dreams. This is your life, not someone else’s. If there are people who are holding you back from doing what you truly want to do with your life, are they doing it with your best interests in mind or theirs? These are things to ask yourself as you hit certain plateaus in your life. As life moves onwards, there come big decisions, such as career choices, marriage, moving cities, buying a home, having kids, settling down or none of the above.

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” ~ Dale Carnegie (An amazing thinker and author)

With the pressures that surround people at culturally prescribed time periods, it is not often hard to feel down if you haven’t achieved certain benchmarks or ticked off all the neat little boxes of life by a relative age. Never be hard on yourself for not living up to another person’s expectations or dreams. The only person who needs satisfying, first and foremost, is you. If you are content, then everything else will fall into place over time. By working on your own development, new goals can be achieved.

People are attracted to positive, driven and energetic people. Make a month long plan to start. Make the goals achievable so it feels good. Then, go bigger, more ambitious. One year, five years, ten years and so on. Make them goals that you can control. Ones that you think will make YOU happy. You can’t just say I’ll be married by 30, because you can’t control that. For sure it can be a goal, but don’t give yourself a timeline, or expect stress and disappointment.

Remember, if your goals are materialistic, your happiness will be superficial in the end. Go for something more. Look deep and think. Someone without goals, however small, limits themselves and those they keep with them to predictable ends and expected outcomes. The moment is now to follow your passions.

“The more intensely we feel about an idea or a goal, the more assuredly the idea, buried deep in our subconscious, will direct us along the path to its fulfillment.” ~ Earl Nightingale

A few years ago I made a plan. One of those goals, among many, was to ride a bicycle around the world. In two months, I will begin that dream. I do it for that dream, for the beautiful places, for the hard times, for Charity, but most of all, for myself. It feels fantastic to finally have my goal right there in front of me. Work towards something and then follow through. Be patient. But when it comes, be ready to accept what you have worked so hard for.

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