There is one thing that is necessary for someone to truly understand me, I’m a dreamer and an idealist. I believe in striving for the best, even if it might not be obtainable. I believe virtues are more than abstract morals but actually tangible qualities of living. I’ve been told to come down to reality, to see things for how they are and to accept them and move on, many times in my life. I don’t think that’s totally right though. I think there is more to the world than what we can see and that you should accept the fact of how things are, but not accept that it has to stay that way. The idea that I should bring my expectations and beliefs down to reality is impossible for me to fully comprehend. It may sound narcissistic but I believe it should be the other way around. Who decided that “X” has to be just “X” or that there is no such thing as “Y”?
Everything that is, once wasn’t. At one point there was no universe, Earth, cities, art, or people. They were fiction. They were imagination. They didn’t exist, until one by one they were made. An all-wise God had a plan and he brought it into reality. He decided to make a universe, our planet and us.
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth…. God created man in his own image” – Genesis 1:1, 27
He made us in his image. His image gave us the tools and traits of a creator and so like our Maker, we created things. We built cities and made art and thought of ideas. The first act of creation allowed us to build on it and continue to build upon each subsequent act of creation.
One day some group of people came up with the idea to harvest fruit. We realized it was good. Then later those groups built on that and thought to farm it. We did that and had lots of it. Then some other group entirely came up with the idea that maybe we don’t want to be ill. Then someone took that and said maybe we can stop ourselves from becoming ill. Then someone thought to take those plants we farmed and made medicine from them and eventually stopped people from being ill. At the beginning medicine was entirely unthought of, but by each step of creation they came to a point where it was able to be made tangible. By never being satisfied with the current status quo they made progress step by step. We are where we are because individuals refused to confine themselves to reality. What if more of us were willing to embrace that concept?
Look at a blank canvas. It requires imagination and motivated intent to fill it with something, to make it something else or create something new. Reality is a canvas. When we say “that’s just the way it is” or “this is all there is” we are saying that the canvas can only be blank, that it can’t be changed and that it can’t be made into something new. The fact is, that just isn’t true. We aren’t limited by our reality, reality is limited by us and our willingness to stretch our minds and dare to think of new things. It’s scary but someone must always take that first step and speak out.
Switchfoot really gets this idea well. In their song, “The War Inside”, they have these lyrics:
“Yeah, every thought or deed
Yeah, every tree or seed
The big things come from the little dreams
Every world is made by make believe”
And in their song “The World You Want”
“Is this the world you want?
Is this the world you want?
You’re making it
Every day you’re alive…
….You start to look like what you believe
You float through time like a stream
If the waters of time are made up by you and I
If you change the world for you, you change it for me”
What then? Well I’d repeat the words of Henry Ford, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.” You in many different ways have the ability to change your world, internally and externally. When you are stuck in unfavorable circumstances that can’t be changed at the moment, you can still change how you respond. That’s probably the most important component, only you get to choose that. In this internal way, you create how you view the world and free yourself to change the world instead of the world changing you.
Which if there is a more hopeful idea, I’ve yet to hear it. Whatever life is to you right now. You are free to change it, to improve on it. To make it something beautiful and to put your own unique touch on it. Seriously what sentence is more freeing than this? Your reality is subject to you. That doesn’t mean it’s easy or that reality changes willingly. But it means that there is a choice to be made and steps to be taken.
Here’s the thing though. Too often, society buys into the state of reality. We love the status quo. It’s safe, it’s easy and it’s boring. We look at those who hold to their imagination, ideals and dreams as modern day Don Quixotes, wayward, well-meaning fools. And when they fall short, or their dreams are smashed, we laugh and say, “Welcome to the real world!”. Truth is we do that because we are afraid. We are afraid for them to succeed, afraid for them to challenge our beliefs, our ways of life. We laugh in fearful ignorance.
But when they succeed. And we are where we are today, because many have succeeded, the whole world stops laughing. And maybe they embrace it, or maybe they fight it. But once you release change into the world, there’s no going back.
I guess this is that Matrix moment. You’ve been given the choice, now you got to choose. Ignore your ability to change the world or embrace it and open your eyes to the horizon. It’s up to you. Your decision.
“I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge. That myth is more potent than history. That dreams are more powerful than facts. That hope always triumphs over experience. That laughter is the only cure for grief. And I believe that love is stronger than death.” – Robert Fulghum
“I believe in the power of the imagination to remake the world, to release the truth within us, to hold back the night, to transcend death, to charm motorways, to ingratiate ourselves with birds, to enlist the confidences of madmen.” – J.G. Ballard
So. I don’t write a whole lot these days. Sorry for the 2.3 people who actually are interested in my thoughts. But I got something now!
For all but 3 hours of 2013, I’ve been sick. Whether its the flu or a cold I’m not sure. I may have had a fever at one point. Now I just have the runny nose, sore throat, congestion, chills, shakiness, all around miserable feeling. It really sucks, but I’ve also been a lot sicker before. But it’s a good opportunity to talk about something… I’m not exactly sure if it’s a common thought or not
I’ve always been thankful for unfortunate, sad, depressing, and even painful events in my life. When I’m dealing with them, i’m usually preoccupied with the existential questions of “Why me???” Almost always afterward, and occasionally while i’m in it, I’ll have this moment where I just kinda see it. It’s this realization of all the things in life and in making life, that work against me existing are innumerable and that fact that I do exist and have done so for 21 years is mind-boggling. And that’s when it hits me. I’m alive. By the grace of God, my heart is doing it’s thing. The fact that I’m sick, shows me, I’m alive right now. My body is fighting and struggling. And that’s the key. Struggle. Challenge.
It’s life’s challenges that remind us what we are after, what we are about. Its when everything is peachy and we stop struggling and stop being challenged that we fade away. It’s like being in space, without the challenge gravity presents, our bones and muscles literally fade away. Yet when I add struggle to them with say weightlifting, they build and they grow and they become more and more alive.
I love football. Its a sport that highlights this idea really well. You struggle and you challenge and its can be punishing but to those who play the game, they’ll tell you themselves, its worth it. The pain is almost pleasurable. It’s a mark of progress, it just isn’t the same without it.
The best athletes and the greatest minds will tell you: Pain, struggles, challenges aren’t obstacles, they are opportunities. And the reason they are the best is because they’ve embraced that fact. You can’t have a mountaintop moment until you’ve hiked a mountain.
I truly believe there will be struggle and challenge in heaven. Just not the way we know it. It will always lead somewhere, we will never struggle or challenge in vain. We won’t become weary, or disheartened.
So next time you have a moment or situation that is negative. Thank God for the chance to grow. Embrace the struggle and realize that against all odds, YOU’RE ALIVE.
“If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle.” – Frederick Douglass
“There is scarcely any passion without struggle.” – Albert Camus
“The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value. I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress and grow.” – Thomas Paine