Life seems so simple around a fire.
Another couple, great friends of ours, joined us on our patio last Saturday night. And we talked into the early hours Sunday morning. It was too late, or early, depending on how you look at it, but it was worth it. We’re all mid-30’s plus but stayed up like we were still in college.
Close to 3am, we said our good-byes as the last piece of wood died out in the fire pit and the whiskey and red wine bottles were gathered.
No TV, no entertainment, no phones, no kids. Just conversation, dreams and stories. Simple stuff.
It always surprises me how much we learn about others, and ourselves even, when we’re given the space to simply be. The current of the conversation started in the shallow end but an hour or two in, we were in way over our heads.
Into some deep, uncharted waters. Waters where we had more questions and doubts than answers and certainty. Parenting, divorce, faith, marriage, death, dreams, what ifs.
The more we swam around in the deep water, the more I realized that oftentimes we are afraid to admit that we have these big, hairy, audacious dreams swimming around beside us. They’re hard to articulate but easy to ignore. Tough to take action on but simple to excuse.
Or maybe they’re even easy to pretend like they don’t exist. They can’t hurt us that way or let us down.
So we stay in the calm, shallow, safe waters. Those waters can’t scare us or actually make us do something different.
What prevents us from pursuing those dreams? From giving a megaphone to the quiet voice?
I certainly don’t know all the answers, but oftentimes the answers come through people. Maybe even people around a fire. When we keep tiptoeing into the deeper waters. You won’t get to those waters with the TV on or the music blaring. You’ll typically only get there in conversation, awkward silence and whispers.
The whisper will go something like this, at least it does for me.
“That thing you want to do. The one you’ve been dreaming about but have been afraid to tell anyone. I promise it won’t simply happen. It would have happened already if so. At some point, you have to move. Put one foot in front of the next. Take a step. Doesn’t have to be huge but take one step today. And then do it again tomorrow.”
The whisper about the relationship that needs to be mended, the book that needs to be written, the mountain that needs to be climbed, the business that needs to be started, the adventure that needs to be taken, the spouse that needs to be forgiven, the dream that needs to be explored.
What holds us back from giving that voice permission to take a more vocal role in our lives?
I’m sure there are others but here are four main roadblocks on our way to the deep waters:
- Pretending – we’ve all heard the “fake it til you make it” line. I call BS on that way of thinking. I’ve played that game a lot in my professional and personal life. Here’s the thing about that game: you lose every time. You always get found out. A great example of this is social media. For the record, I love social media, but it’s super easy to pretend like we have life fully under control there. Smiling kids, happy wife, great vacations, no stress. The problem with real life though is the filters don’t exist. The bills still come, the kids still cry, the marriage is still hard. Drop the pretending game and pursue authenticity and vulnerability instead.
- Protecting – the weird uncle of pretending is protecting. Building up insulated barriers to protect people from knowing the real you. The alluring thing about protection is the belief that we can’t be hurt inside the self-made walls. But the people that are really in your corner and want to support you in your dreams can’t unless you let the guards down. Every single one of us carries some dark, wounded places. Areas we don’t want to let people in, but the result of showing those sides of us is a lot more, “oh yeah, me too’s” than judgment.
- Pride – too often, I’m more worried about what others will think of me if I’m vulnerable. My pride gets in the way of letting the deep stuff surface. Being proud of your kid is one thing, being prideful in the way we deal with others is an entirely different thing.
- Performing – we live in a what have you done for me today culture? So we all hustle, grind and work to keep up the act. But are we doing that on an open road or a treadmill? Are we doing the right type of hustling? The right type of work? Are we simply doing mindless work or the real work of creating, initiating and leading? The latter kind of work leads to breakthroughs.
What dreams have you allowed to lay dormant? What have you allowed to distract you in that journey? Which of these roadblocks stand in your way?