I used to write. I used to write a lot. The truth is, I’ve wanted to be a writer for most of my adult life. Recently I watched a movie that reminded me of how much I wanted to be a writer. For years it was what I worked toward. I remember having conversations long into the night with friends about what life would be like when we finally reached our dreams. We talked about how incredible it would be to live the life that we each had orchestrated in our minds that was feeding on our never ending supply of what could be. We were all idealists back then. We saw the world through the eyes of possibility that was unhindered by reality. A perfect world where poverty didn’t kill innocent children while just a few feet away overweight celebrities tugged at our heart strings to get us to send in our money. A world where accomplishment was achieved by hard work and tenacity, not by a governmental system taking from one and giving to another. A world where we felt compelled to never let the person next door go without the essentials in life; where we did our part to make the world a better place. This was a time of innocence in our lives pushing a generation, a generation that would eventually conform to our world and help create the mess we have today.
A part of me feels guilty about this time in life. I feel guilty because with all my idealism, I failed to do my part; I failed to become a writer. Somehow, deep in my psyche, I feel a responsibility for where we are today. I feel responsible, as if I had become a writer I could have fulfilled my part in the world and we would have seen the place we dreamed of so many years ago. And somehow, amongst this unspoken guilt lies a man who strives to become a person of impact. My life is not my own. It exists for something much bigger than me, and I have a duty to the world around me to throw off this guilt and push forward to make life a better place for others to hang around. Although my dreams of becoming a writer have never died, I see a much more important role that I have to play in the world. I have an opportunity to show the world that my generation was not, and is not, a generation of words. And, just as we did so many years ago, I vow to become what I am called to be. I vow to do my part to make the world a better place so we can see the hurting stop hurt, the unloved being loved, and see a place where life can be lived to the fullest.
My wife and I have a homemade chalkboard in our dinning area that has a “To Do” list on it (shown above). The most unique thing about our “To Do” list is that is doesn’t include any one specific errand. Instead it includes a list of idealistic actions that can fuel us to change. Both of us believe that if we can live up to this :To Do” list that we can do something to change the world. What is this list? It is our “Go Big” list! I now believe that the reason for my guilt is not because I failed to dream or I failed to accomplish. I do both of these, dream and accomplish. What I have not done, or rather have failed to do, is to live. I failed to “Go big or go home!” I lost sight of the very thing that exposed the deep lying passion that drives and motivates me. I have failed to live a “BIG” life! I have settled for mediocrity. I have accepted that what I have and where I am could be the best it will ever get. This thought is simply not true! There is not a bigger lie to fall victim to. There is always better! There is always more!
Many years ago I had a friend who told me the best way to end a story you didn’t have an ending for was to introduce “Poison Peanuts”. It was a sure fire way to finish off any tale, killing everything off in the end. So here is my “Poison Peanut”, our society is as bad as it is because we messed up. Because another generation of idealists gave up on life and conformed to what the world has always wanted us to be. We have given up on great and settled for mediocrity. We have tainted our idealism with the lie of pessimism that this is the best we can hope for. This lie tells us we could never have reached our goals anyway, so there is no use in fretting now. Life rolls on and our role and impact becomes less and less noticeable as each day we conform more and more into what the world tells us we must be. So the “Poison Peanut” is this, you don’t have to conform to what the world tells you that you need to be. You don’t have to blame others for a life you chose for yourself. It is true that we don’t always get to choose the situations we are in, but we always have a choice in how we react to them. Take this “Poison Peanut” and kill off everything in your life that is holding you back from achieving everything you desired so long ago. Grab hold of your idealistic memories and fight for something that really matters. Give yourself credit for still being alive and having the ability to change how you react to the world. Start making the world choose how they will react to you. Good exists all around us and takes place in many forms. Be courageous today and stand for good. Love people with everything you have and kill off hate and bitterness in your life. Forgive the unforgivable; release the unreleasable. Tell the world that you have dreams of a better future, and then, take a step. Let’s kill pessimism in our lives and replace it with optimistic action that will impact our lives to the very core, in turn impacting the lives of those around us. The best way to change the world around you is to foster change in your own life. Stop hating optimism, but instead start embracing it. Together we can make a change that will impact the world we live in and will be felt throughout the ripples of time.