Monday, March 9, 2009

Dreams Mean Work

On my first date with @pacificnorthwest, he asked me a brilliant question. “What is the biggest risk you've ever taken?” he asked.

I did not have a good answer. I fumbled for one, but ultimately each “risk” that came to mind was lame and not that risky at all.

He had a good answer for the question when I turned it around to him, and I made up my mind to look for more risks, to be more open to challenges.

When he called the next day and told me he wanted me to fly to see him for New Year's Eve four days from then, I told him I'd visit if I could afford the ticket.

“Sounds like you're looking into your first risk of 2009, Miss Jess,” he had said. And I did look into it. Ultimately the flight was too expensive, but I booked a cheaper one for 30 days later.

And I risked a lot. I risked my safety, my security, my finances, and my heart.

Let it be said: These are not risks I regret.

My favorite passage has long been a page from the book “By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept,” by Paulo Coelho. It reads: “ 'You have to take risks,' he said. We will only understand the miracle of life fully when we allow the unexpected to happen. Every day, God gives us the sun—and also one moment in which we have the ability to change everything that makes us unhappy. Every day, we try to pretend that we haven't perceived that moment, that it doesn't exist—that today is the same as yesterday and will be the same as tomorrow. But if people really pay attention to their everyday lives, they will discover that magic moment. It may arrive in the instant when we are doing something mundane, like putting our front-door key in the lock; it may lie hidden in the quiet that follows the lunch hour or in the thousand and one things that all seem the same to us. But that moment exists—a moment when all the power of the stars becomes a past of us and enables us to perform miracles.
Joy is sometimes a blessing, but it is often a conquest. Our magic moment helps us to change and sends us off in search of our dreams. Yes, we are going to suffer, we will have difficult times, and we will experience many disappointments—but all of this is transitory; it leaves no permanent mark. And one day we will look back with pride and faith at the journey we have taken.
Pitiful is the person who is afraid of taking risks. Perhaps this person will never be disappointed or disillusioned; perhaps she won't suffer the way people do when they have a dream to follow. But when that person looks back—and at some point everyone looks back—she will hear her heart saying, 'What have you done with the miracles God planted in your days? What have you done with the talents God bestowed on you? You buried yourself in a cave because you were fearful of losing those talents. So this is your heritage: the certainty that you wasted your life.' ”

Every time I read this, I get chills. I get inspired. I want to pack up my belongings and move to Argentina or Spain or the moon. It makes me want to put my heart on the line and do silly things like fly to Seattle.

So, even though I didn't fly to Seattle for New Year's, @pacificnorthwest ended up being my first risk of the year anyway.

Coincidentally the book is all about two lovers who knew each other in their childhood and reunited as adults, but distance and dreams are obstacles, which they end up finding their way around.

I took a risk. May this year hold many, many more.


Shelley L said...

First of all, that whole stand on top of a table and fall into the arms of a bunch of people you hope are paying attention sure feels like a big risk...sure it might not be, but it definitely gives you the feeling of taking a risk.

I'm proud of you Jess...proud that you are willing to take risks. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, they inspire us all!


Will Roegge said...

Inspiring quote. Its really applicable to my life too. Thank you for sharing it and your feelings. I gotta pick up some of his other books besides the Alchemist. I'm impressed.