Don’t Stop Believing

Remember, back when you were in school and your classmates and others would ask, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” If you were an ambitious dreamer, like me, you would spin tales of unlived possibilities in an unknown future that lies just around the bend beyond the familiar terrain of the present.

You were young. You had dreams. As a young adult you were just starting your life’s journey and may have been willing to take the midnight train going anywhere, just to get a chance to experience something new and exciting. You were bold, adventurous, and though you may have been afraid, you were willing to roll the dice just one more time just to see what fate might tempt you with.

You were alive. The whole world was yours for the asking. You had a belief that you could do anything – and you could – all you had to do was to take the step and doors would open. You believed a vast world of possibilities held treasures in store for you, and if someone dared ask you about it, you could tell stories of a future yet to be realized, like a movie that never ends, and go on and on…

Then something happened

The rude awakening – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – you want the reasonable basics of life. And you start pondering more base questions about life, like “Where will I live?” Where will my next meal come from? How can I support myself? What do I have to offer a potential mate?

While you still believe and are willing to continue to dream, life grabs you by the wrist and hurls you into a sense of duty and responsibility as you reason, “I need to get a job.” Or some other sobering thought, as you hear the door to the cage close, realizing you’ve just been caught in the trap of life.

Life in prison

Day by day, your enthusiasm wanes as your dreams fade and you stop believing in a fabulous future. You resign yourself to the mundane day to day lifestyle of a reality where dreams no longer exist and become accustom to the engine’s drone as you taxi into your life of mediocrity.

The little, rare fanfares interrupt your otherwise “normal” life, where every day is just the same as the day before. The alarm goes off, the scurry to do what needs to be done. The hustle and bustle of your daily routine, which could probably be conducted while blindfolded, all to find yourself safely at home. Relax for a few minutes, until “lights out.” And it starts all over again.

And you go about making the best of your life in prison, without a thought of what’s going on outside, because to allow yourself to think of it would just be too tragic. That is, until you meet that young person, of whom you ask the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

In that moment you remember a time when you believed in all the possibilities, and you hope maybe to get a glimpse in the life of this young person of the flame that once burned in you so brightly. You think, even though you wasted your chance, maybe you could recapture the feeling by living vicariously through the life of this youth. Then, invariably, the young person with a dream of a brighter future begins to ask, “Where will I live?” and you know what comes next, as you shrug your shoulders and resign yourself to believe that belief is folly.

Don’t Stop Believing!

And that’s just how society has trained you to think and react. When you stop believing, the machine wins as you become nothing more than a functioning part of it, without hopes, dreams and unmotivated to disrupt the status quo.

It’s never too late to start believing and resuming your life’s journey again. All you have to do is to start where you left off. Have the courage to ask yourself, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Don’t think of yourself as someone whose future has already been spent. You can ever continue to grow and change, embracing a brighter future and daring to do something to make the world a better place, no matter what station in life you may be in or what your age might be.

Dare to dream about the bright future that lies ahead, waiting for you in the next season of your life.

As you step back into the driver’s seat, ready to embark on your renewed life’s journey, you can continue to grow, evolve, write and rewrite your life’s script, like the movie that never ends, it goes on and on, and on, and on…

Don’t Stop Believing

Look at the Bright Side

Probably the most annoying trait of the optimist is optimism; the ability to see the good in even the most desperate of circumstances.

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While humanity is programmed to remain in a state of fear, lack, discomfort and confusion, there are a few people who have either pushed beyond the programming or are born with an innate instinct to see the goodness, or at least the possibility of goodness, in anything that appears to be dismal.

So uncommon is it in our society that optimists are ridiculed, bullied and made fun of throughout their tenure from the playground to the boardroom.

The effect of bad news is to “keep you down,” to keep the population so confused, angry, sad or depressed that it is improbable that one might seek solution for problems or to retain hope of a better world.

The special ability (or superpower) of the optimist is to see things from a broader perspective. While a particular scene may be absolutely dire, the view of the optimist can zoom out to as wide a view as may be necessary to see how this particular incident plays a significant part of a positive and uplifting outcome; a result that may have not been possible at all if not for this lackluster or even horrific episode.

In no way does this make light of the specific atrocity that consumes the attention and energy of the short-sighted individual who is intensely focused on the atrocity. Even the optimist is emotionally impacted by the event as any normal person would be.

The optimist knows that it is always darkest before the dawn and the light of a new day shed upon the landscape reveals even more than the day before because we do not exist within a timeless vacuum.

Growth necessitates change and change often comes from less than desirable circumstances. If there were no conflict, no confusion, no pain or suffering, there would be no growth, no change and no life.

Abraham Lincoln is credited as saying, “The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty,” this coming from a man who persisted in the worst of circumstances through difficult times and overcoming his personal shortcomings and not being thwarted by failure to become one of the most impactful Presidents of the United States.

It is this ability to visualize the big picture, a brighter future that helps the individual push-through the ugliness and despair to change – not only their individual circumstances – but the world for the better. It is a common trait amongst positive risk takers and change makers who inspire the rest of us to consider there might be hope in an otherwise dark future with ominous fearful overtones.

Nonetheless, if the past is any indication, things do get better. Our humanity has gone through tremendous growth, change and advancement to get us to where we are today. Even in just the last hundred years, we have progressed so much it is nearly unfathomable when compared to the rest of our existence. This alone, should forecast a brighter future, even in light of all the negative press and media.

Even in our darkest moments, our future is spectacular and those leading in love are the light bearers leading the way to a brighter day.