By John F. Garancheski
Every endeavor in life usually begins with the idea that the end will bring a feeling of “completeness.” Visions of victory and triumph fill our heads as we imagine the praise and recognition that we will receive, or we imagine the blanket of comfort and security that will be delivered upon the acquisition of items that we covet.
We think, “If I could only have...”
It’s the new girlfriend who we know is “the one”, the new job that promises the challenges and advancements that we have always hoped for, the new apartment in the best neighborhood that we could find, the new car that gives us goosebumps when we slide into the driver seat, the newest tech gadget, the new diet, the get rich quick scheme, the list goes on. Each promises to be the one thing that we need to finally be fulfilled and content with life.
I have been swept up in these feelings too many times to count. Every new opportunity that presents itself is coated in gold and tastes like sugar. I can picture myself standing at the podium, recounting the details of my path to success to my crowd of unwavering followers cheering me on. There are streamers and balloons, champagne bottles popping. Bikini clad models strut onto the stage with one of those oversized checks that reads: Payable to JFG3 in the amount of 10 Billion Dollars. I give a cool wave to the crowd and drive off into the sunset in my shiny sports car, destination: PARADISE. The top is peeled back, the summer breeze blows through my hair.
I am the fucking man.
The warming sensation of accomplishment and pride washes over me.
Suddenly, I am wrenched back into reality. And life grips me with its icy palm.
I am not sure if I am on the road to success or on the path to my self-destruction. I am filled with self-doubt and fear. I still feel like I am climbing the mountain to victory but it is heavily perforated with pitfalls. Sometimes I fall into the traps along the way, other times I am nimble enough to circumnavigate the doom.
The compliments and cheering fans are few, with setbacks and bullies being the norm. Most people that I meet along the way don’t give a shit about my journey or my vision of success. I have lost more friends than I have made, felt hated for making decisions that I thought were best for me and those I care about, and alienated myself from those who I wanted the approval of most. I started off thinking that I could maintain a balance between who I want to be and who they want me to be, but it has become apparent that is not the case.
I have to remind myself why it is I am on this journey. Am I being true to myself, or is this for someone else?
I am living life for me.
In this moment of clarity the grip of life feels more like a warm embrace.
Forget the people standing in place while I am moving forward. Laziness always hates a winner. When the winner is making strides for progress, laziness sits on the couch with its leg extended, hoping to trip the winners running by.
My goals are not for the lazy, not to prove someone wrong, or to make somebody else proud. If I succeed in my goals for the wrong reasons I will never be truly satisfied. The work was not done for me, it was done for somebody else. I have been there before and the only thing that lasts after a victory won for the wrong reasons is the taste of dissatisfaction, an empty hole where I thought a huge sense of accomplishment would live.
I must constantly check with myself to decide if what I am pursuing is pure. Is it true? Is it for me?
We have these dreams and ideals. We always see our lives unfolding in a picture perfect sequence of events. The outcome rarely ever turns up the way that we imagine in our heads and we are left to wonder why we feel so broken, lost, and unfulfilled. We find ourselves feeling the same way that we felt in the beginning, or even worse because we have wasted our time and resources chasing one more trail of smoke and mirrors.
We lose our way when we choose to pursue a path that does not compliment who we truly are. We forget that the feeling of “wholeness” already lives inside of us. We neglect the crops that have been planted inside of us for the promise of greener pastures on the other side of the bridge. Then we weep at harvest time when we realize that we have only been nurturing someone else's fields.
I’ve set my sights on many goals throughout life. I started many journeys that have turned into disappointment, reaching what I thought was going to be the party at the top of the mountain to find that it’s just me in the end and the next move is to go back down.
We should have huge dreams and expectations for our lives. We just need to remind ourselves why we are working towards our goals. We need to know why we have set our sights on a specific summit, and that our intentions are pure. We need to maintain a realistic perspective of what the top of that mountain will feel like.
Can’t we just live at the top for a while? Can’t we keep that feeling of victory upon arrival? Sure, but only if the journey is true, and for the right reasons.