For over a decade now, I have been carrying around six photocopied pages of Paulo Coelho’s, “The Pilgrimage.” They are tattered, have coffee stains on them, pen markings of all kinds, yet I reread them every now and then and am grateful that I have not given up on, as Mr. Coelho would say, “Fighting the good fight.” I am proud to say that either have my three children. These six pages should be read as often as possible by anyone who wants to keep alive the best part of who they are. For it is through believing and living the dream of who we truly are, every day, that gives our lives profound meaning and purpose.
For one reason or another, I put down this insightful story about the author’s pilgrimage throughout Spain as he journeyed the road to Santiago. With all of my books, I often randomly pick one up and open to a page and begin reading wherever my eyes happen to fall. With, “The Pilgrimage”, I opened to page 58. The author was describing people, primarily individuals who had reached a point in their lives where they no longer believed in their dreams; where they only had faith in their rote and perhaps myopic daily existence of certainty.
(And we all know how reliable certainty is…)
The below caption is the first snag in the letting go of our dreams. If you are someone who has relinquished your deepest desires, it is my hope that after reading this post you will reconsider your life’s path, no matter your age and that your dreams will reawaken onto a clear course of your new life."They complain constantly that the day is too short. The truth is, they are afraid to fight the good fight."
Complaining about the day being too short brings us to the next caption, which leads us to the demise of our dreams:“The second symptom of the death of our dreams lies in our certainties. Because we don’t want to see life as a grand adventure, we begin to think of ourselves as wise and fair and correct in asking so little of life. We look beyond the walls of our day-to-day existence, and we hear the sound of lances breaking, we smell the dust and the sweat, and we see the great defeats and the fire in the eyes of the warriors.”
We, who think we are wise for asking so little of life tend to not know the reward of deep desires put into action. We certainly do not understand the charge one gets as they leap, fearlessly into the unknown charted waters and battles of their lives. We do not know their joy in just the knowing that effort has great merit and is success. Some of us do not know what it is to win at life, while we are living it, for we have never understood the feeling of picking ourselves up when one battle is over, only to begin—another round of, fighting the-good-fight. Our life can be a constant conquering of wars: Trials and Laurels, Trials and Laurels. It is the Glory, it is the being-defeated, if only to show us our strength and might in picking ourselves up—to continue to fight the good fight, until there is no breath left in us to fight anymore.
Some of life's hurdles we choose in order to elevate ourselves to a better and healthier place of existence, so the struggles are also a part of our survival plan. Sometimes the wars we wage are not necessarily what we had designed for our life course, but when faced head on with what we are confronted with, sometimes the healings outweigh the wounds. With a shift in perception we can change any battle into a victory.
(We win every day that we do not surrender our dreams.)
“But we never see the delight, the immense delight in the hearts of those who are engaged in the battle. For them, neither victory nor defeat is important; what’s important is only that they are fighting the good fight.”
As I look back on my life experiences, the good, the bad and the inexplicable, I recognize that my life would not have the laurels, the internal badges, had it not been for the many trials. Yet, our lives do not need adversity, sadness, hunger or hardship in order for one to see or value the gifts of life. We were certainly not put on this planet to wage wars that kill others or to internally suffer through life as many subconsciously do. We are all given life. We make choices and sometimes choices are made for us, however, it is how we deal with the unpleasantries of our lives every day, that determines whether our perception will be transforming or destructive.
Often, fighting the good fight involves hardships of many kinds, but mostly this battle is an internal one. It is waging the war against Compromise and Conformity and the pursuit to live one’s life as they were intended to: That It Be Thy Own. Entering the world is clearly a courageous act and one of strength. How we choose to live our life once we have arrived is up to us after our formidable years. We can decide to live with integrity and love or we can surrender to what Paolo Coelho calls, “The peace of our Sunday afternoons…” The peace of our Sunday afternoons, in the case of this story is where we have surrendered most, if not all of who we are. The peace of our Sunday afternoons suggests to me that something or someone stole our dreams and somewhere along the way we allowed that to happen.
We can, however, learn how to make our dreams come true, keep them alive, from the time we are able to crawl and perhaps even sooner. Imagine a world, where we all fought the good fight, the freedom, the allowance, to live our life as we choose and feel is right in our heart. A world where we celebrated everyone’s dream—as if it were our own, for isn’t that in part true? We are all reflections of each other, mirroring our worlds simultaneously, coming and going in and out of each other’s realities. The big picture of life is a dream and we are all a part of it. So fighting the good fight should be a prerequisite for every level of education in our society:Never Give Up: Room 101, 2nd level 1st Door On The Right, Grades, K-12. (Doctorial Program Included)
We need, as a societal whole, to fill the lives of our children with love, insight and awareness. We must show them that they matter most and that we are passionate about their lives and dreams. This concept is not idealistic. It is an absolute realistic necessity if we are to remain a sustainable species. Everywhere in our history we have not valued The Child, nor the mother. Something is gravely wrong here and it is time for all of us to rethink what we are doing to the future of humanity. Recently I saw, Martin Scorsese’s movie, “Hugo”. For me, the overall theme was to not lose your purpose in life. Hugo, the young boy of about 11 years of age said in a moment of despair, “If you lose your purpose it is like being broken.” In the film, the French inspector had injured himself in the war and could not walk without a cane. He was bitter, angry and cruel to the children in the train station—he had lost his purpose and began to take his suffering out on others. I think many of us can identify with the imagery of the feeling of losing our dreams—our purpose, but we do nothing about it, except to take our sadness and misery and inflict it onto others, so we try to steal their dreams because we have allowed ours to die…
The formidable years are the tender years, when we are most vulnerable and porous. They are the years when we are most malleable. We are born little warriors, children who know the joy and rewards of fighting the sometimes-endless battles to their dreams. Yet I wonder: At what ages does asking less of life happen? 10? 12? 20? 40? Perhaps it is different for everyone or anyone who gives a time or an age for surrendering any part of who they truly are. Is any age appropriate or just? I think not. The excerpt below is the very secret why the aged and the ageless know the truth and value in fighting the good fight until their very last breath.
”Neither victory nor defeat is important. What’s important is only that they are fighting the good fight.”
Those who live their dreams every day, understand that the dream is alive inside of them, always. The joy for the artist is while he or she is performing or painting. For the writer it is the continual flow of creative thought passing from the mind and heart and then transcribed onto paper. For the Scientist—the solution, the surgeon, the healing, the mother, the flowering and unfolding of her child’s dreams…
“And finally, the third symptom of the passing of our dreams is peace. Life becomes a Sunday afternoon; we ask for nothing grand, and we cease to demand anything more than we are willing to give. In that state, we think of ourselves as being mature; we put aside the fantasies of our youth, and we seek personal and professional achievement. We are surprised when people our age say that they still want this or that out of life. But really, deep in our hearts, we know that what has happened is that we have renounced the battle for our dreams—we have refused to fight the good fight….When we renounce our dreams and find peace, we go through a short period of tranquility. But the dead dreams begin to rot within us and to infect our entire being. We become cruel to those around us, and then we begin to direct this cruelty against ourselves. That’s when illnesses and psychoses arise….What we sought to avoid in combat—disappointment and defeat—came upon us because of our cowardice. And one day, the dead, spoiled dreams make it difficult to breathe, and we actually seek death. It’s death that frees us from our certainties, from our work, and from that terrible peace of our Sunday afternoons.”
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We can all settle for less than what we deserve in life and for some that might be “OK” for them. Perhaps not everyone was meant to leap off of tall buildings to only realize that they could fly, while standing on the ground. Not everyone wants to turn base metals into gold—simply because they believe that they can! For some, watching others soar to great and unimaginable heights is enough, or it appears to be... For others, becoming the wizards that they only dream about feels too distant a journey for them to actually imagine fulfilling. If only they knew that the magic resides right inside of them, let alone know that the stars-in-the-sky are not really that far away... But Watch children as often as you can. They see birds in the park or at a zoo and they have no doubt that they can catch them! Children believe—everything about who they are and what they can have in life. They look to us, the Tall Ones to validate their reflection of what and all that they feel is true. For children, the Costume is Who They Are! They are their own super heroes, little boys as much as little girls. They exist in the dream of themselves until someone, something or some belief robs them of those very ideals.
We must never forget: We are all given chances in life, our birthright is to live and to feel alive with joy. Plenty of individuals are born handicapped in one way or another and yet we see them thrive, sometimes with more verve than others who may have more advantages. We, who watch the dreams unfold of the little warriors who fight the good fight every day, not only see them actualize their own dreams, but we see them helping the dreams of others come true too!
The peace of a Sunday afternoon might simply mean to some that this is a respite from their own type of weekly battles. To some degree that has its rewards. Sunday afternoons can be a time when we refuel our bodies and minds for the challenges that lie ahead during the week. Sunday afternoons can be more though. They can be a steady calm of the kind of peace and tranquility that is result of living a happy and joy-filled life with the rewards from the rest of the week. Our jobs and careers need balance. Our personal and professional worlds thrive and compliment each other when there is mutual respect for who we are and how we define our lives. Sunday afternoons are are also a wonderful time to build upon the dreams that have been dormant all week long…
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Today is actually a Sunday afternoon. It is Noon to me. Noon is a time and place where my dreams are always unfolding and reshaping me as well as me redefining them. I dedicate this post to my daughter, Conor Leslie, for always believing in my dreams as if they were her own and for fulfilling hers as if they were mine. She is the true Super Hero of her life and all that it means to "make your dreams come true." She never was and never will be any less than what she knows she has had the strength and power to—Imagine. What and all that she has imagined, she too has created—and that is my dream come true!
As far as y.o.u. are concerned?
“You too have to learn to fight the good fight. You have already learned to accept the adventures and challenges that life provides, but you still want to deny anything that is extraordinary.”
So, when that Clock is about to strike 12 and that noon train is approaching around the bend; the tracks are laden with golden bricks pointing in a Direction and your life is asking you: Decide, Decide, Decide...what will you choose to do? Listen to, your heart or your mind?
(only time will tell...)