We imagine things in grandeur, then the reality falls short and we’re deflated by the dissonance. But we shouldn’t be. That dissonance, it’s motivation. It’s the great agitator, setting us in motion to rally reality to the potential we conjure in our mind. It’s the unspoken pressure – always – to keep climbing.
It’s the angst of dissatisfaction; an itching, nagging sensation… as if you can’t find a comfortable position in your skin or your own life. You have to take pride in it, and be protective of your possibilities. The distance between where you are and where you wish to be is a challenge; it’s an occasion waiting for you to meet it at eye level. If you don’t step to the distance, the gap, the expanse between seeds and full blossom, it will all disintegrate. Like unused muscles, your potential will atrophy, dissolving back into your body, lost in your blood stream.
Work for it every day in some way – even if some days all that means is a frustrated acknowledgement that you’re not where you want and need to be. Love the distance, and you’ll learn to love the journey. I think the journey is an experience based on reciprocity; it will not give to you if you don’t give to it. Go all in, press forward, embowered by every footprint you leave, strengthened by every painstaking inch you earn, more committed for every callous you acquire.
A rush to the finish will get you there faster, but not better. Plus you’ll miss a lot along the way. The journey gives you gifts – some of them in a form you may not welcome at first. The path may grow thick with thorns, debris, luring caverns eager for you to fall in, enemies who wish to block your way… but the determined will soldier on. Arms scraped, morale bruised but not budging – these are the reinforcements to the scaffolding of your being; you cannot emerge unchanged, even if only in a small way. The small strengths add up, though, and coalesce into a crescendo, a rallying cry to inspire you when it is inspiration you need most, and cannot seem to summon. So when you finally make it to the finish line, you’ll find you’re prepared to be there; dream-chasing takes dedication, and triumph can be simultaneously consuming and deflating if you don’t take the time to build yourself in your pursuit of it. If your purpose centers around a certain achievement, you have to make sure you curate other forms of purpose for yourself in your pursuit, otherwise the elation of success will be undercut by the looming feeling of “what now?”
Keeping the horizon in sight is important – it’s the compass that guides you and the magnetic pull that taps into some undeniable, automatic energy – but you have to witness the steps along the way too. There are so many insights strewn along the climb to the top. And on the worst days, when you feel most like giving up, and collapsing on the spot, succumbing to the gravity of exhaustion – it will be a balanced vision that saves you: it will be seeing the end goal and remembering what it means to you, and it will be seeing the small step and knowing that all you have to do is put one foot in front of the other. The balance is essential, otherwise the distance ahead of you can become insurmountable, and the steps along the way can become insignificant and monotonous, as crushing in their multitude as the distance is in its magnitude.
The journey is a gift – it may be trying, exhausting, frustrating beyond belief. There may be times when every centimeter of your mind and body seem to be pulsing on the verge of implosion, and on the cusp of a stoic resignation to defeat. Maybe there will be days when your purpose feels insignificant, not more than a silly fantasy – and you, a fool, for being so devoted to it. There will probably be moments when you feel detached from yourself – a hostage of your own cause, tricked into finding compelling that which suddenly seems nothing more than the offspring of abstract thoughts and mundane aspirations. There will be times when you want to scream until your crack the exoskeleton of the universe and exorcise yourself of the desires inside you. There will be times when your passion and your hopes are painted as delusion. There will be moments where defeat feels heartbreakingly inevitable.
At all of these moments, look down – just one more foot forward, once more, and once more, until the storm passes. In these moments, you won’t know what you gain — what you earn — until you persevere past them, through them, onward with them on your back. In these moments it’s most crucial that you remember to engage with the journey, to lean into it, to throw the best you’ve got at it, to rise to the challenge, to carry on, to demand the respect of the journey. If you can do that, you’ll end up with so much more than you imagined.