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Chasing Dreams

April 18, 2013

When I was 20 years old I moved to Maui, built a hut in the country, and got a job at a health food store. It was simultaneously a return to my roots and a brand new adventure – I was born and raised on the island, in the country, and had spent an inordinate amount of time at that same health food store while my mom shopped. This time, however, I was on my own.

For the past two years I’d been living in Eugene, learning what life was like outside of the classroom – how to keep a job, how to pay bills, how to cook for myself… basically how to be an American. And yet it came to pass when my friends went back to school that second year that I felt left out. No longer was my life structured by the cycle of scholastic semesters; it was now a long, straight line, and I didn’t like the direction it was taking.

Going home represented my best opportunity to get off the beaten path. My homestead was to be completely sustainable – solar powered with water catchment and a large vegetable garden. I was going to teach myself raw survival skills that had gotten lost somewhere between automation and specialization. Like my parents had done thirty years before, I was going to drop out.

Around this time Jerry Garcia died and Maui was inundated with deadheads looking for… something. Some claimed to be following Jerry’s soul, others had been given one-way tickets in an attempt to clean the streets of certain cities, while others had their own reasons.

Working at Mana Foods, I met them all. One kid in particular caught my attention. I gave him leftovers at the beach after work and engaged him in conversation. When I asked what he was about he replied, “I’m waiting for the world to discover me.”

I didn’t get it, and told him so. You have to discover yourself or the world won’t take notice, I said. You can’t just wait around and expect destiny to fall in your lap.

That was our only conversation: we went our ways and I never saw him again. But his philosophy stuck with me, and I’ve often wondered how life has panned out for him. I’ve personally never abandoned my quest of self-discovery and knowledge. And yet, this very afternoon, on the 18th of April, I was given to realize my approach – chasing dreams – was in fact a very American one. Somehow I’ve rejoined the beaten path. Though my goals may be askew from mainstream ones, I’m pursuing them with intent and dedication. I’m not waiting for them to find me.

Here’s the thing: if you’re chasing, you’re not observing. And if you’re not observing, how can you know you’re chasing the right thing? That deadhead was onto something. It’s important to stop once in a while and assess yourself. Are the choices I’ve made lending to my happiness? What do I want out of life?

Unfortunately the American rhythm allows little time for introspection. The cycle of debt discourages it, and those of us lucky enough to get vacations seldom use them for anything beyond surface-level gratification.

The so-called mid-life crisis many of us experience at one time or another may simply be the world saying hey, you’re ignoring me. I can’t direct you if you’re not willing to listen.

People, I urge you to listen. The most powerful decisions come out of quiet moments where you let go of yourself and allowed the world to work its magic. Life is an artist; we’re just canvasses. If you give your muse its way, I promise you a masterpiece.

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From → Rants

4 Comments
  1. “If you’re chasing, you’re not observing. And if you’re not observing, how can you know you’re chasing the right thing?” Such powerful wisdom in this insight. Being receptive is a lost art, so much so that it’s hard to know how to trust the stillness of simply allowing / receiving. Letting go of oneself: one of the trickiest and most worthwhile escape acts there is! Thank you for this, Bo.

    • You’re welcome! And, to give credit where it’s due, thank you to Derek Smith for opening my own mind to this train of thought.

  2. Prana permalink

    How do we know that we are not observing if we are chasing (working towards) something? It’s not obviously true to me.

    • Prana, you have re-defined the word ‘chasing’ from other than I intended it to be used in this instance. If it’s defined simply as ‘working towards’ the meaning implies a balanced and observant pursuit of a goal. In the context of the blog, chasing was defined in the more mainstream American sense – the pursuit of wealth (per se) to the exclusion of everything else.

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