Pursuing Our Own Dreams

Pursuing Our Own Dreams

The Union Path Podcast



Sometimes what we want, sometimes what we really want, what we're really going after, what we really want, to experience at first blush, at first encounter, can seem a little odd, can seem a little different, can seem a little abnormal, can just seem a little weird. It can be a bit of a jarring experience to come face to face with this, to face this head on, to really realize that we want something that's just not normal, not standard, not what everyone else wants, a little different, a little strange. Like any other self-realization, like any other self-exploration, at the root of it needs to be two very core, very critical things, that's, awareness and honesty. We can't really be fully aware unless we're prepared, unless we're open to take in and accept what we find, what we become aware of, what we witness. But as long as we're unwilling to hear the truth, we'll forever separate ourselves from ever fully knowing the truth. That sounds obvious, but it's something that can get very easily lost, something that can be very easily missed.

And especially in our culture, especially when what we want, what we pursue, what we endeavor after, is modeled to us so thoroughly throughout our entire life, it can be really difficult to feel like our desires are different, that in some ways we break the mold a little bit, that in some ways we don't conform. We're not the same, we're different, and that difference can really feel a little isolating that we can spend a lot of our lives chasing after things just because we believe these are things that should be important to us. We inject this normalcy, this expectation, into our own dreams and desires, and sometimes we do this with a great disservice to ourselves. Sometimes this causes us to pursue things, to involve ourselves in things, to persist in things that we don't actually want, and so, no matter how much payoff we receive, no matter how much success we experience, no matter how many accolades we get, no matter how many rewards we get, no matter what the overall compensation is from this pursuit, it never really matters that much to us because our heart isn't really in it, we're not really in it, we're really only invested in it partially, because it isn't what we really want. It's kind of like we've ever experienced the thing of where we really start paying attention to what we eat and how much we eat, and I think we can realize a funny thing that when we have exactly what we want, exactly the precise thing that we want, we actually don't tend to overeat that much that a lot of our overeating can be trying to eat things we don't actually want. And so we keep searching, we keep trying, we keep trying to satiate this hunger within us, but with things that inherently don't address that particular hunger.

And we can do this in our lives. We can fill our lives with just so much stuff that we can be back to the rafters with accomplishment and achievement and accumulation. But if this doesn't actually mean anything to us, if this doesn't actually matter, then this is just accumulation for accumulation's sake. This is trying to address a quality problem through a quantity solution, and we don't have to look very far, especially in our American society, to see that accumulation is a very popular, very healthy idea. We can drive by your average suburban neighborhood and look inside the garages of people, and it's just packed full of stuff. We can look at all the storage units. We can look at just the way we live our lives, and so many of us, myself included, can pack our lives so full, thinking that a life of immense accumulation equals a good life, equals a life well spent, equals a rewarding life.

But at some point some of us, many of us perhaps, have to face the reality, come to the conclusion that what we've been accumulating doesn't really matter all that much, isn't really addressing our real appetites, our real hunkers, isn't really getting to what we really want, isn't really scratching that particular itch, and that a lot of our accumulation has been trying to solve a problem through more than what we actually want is different. And so it's my opinion that part of living a good life is allowing ourselves, is accepting ourselves fully, desires and all wants and all unconditionally. It doesn't mean we have to immediately gratify ourselves in every possible way. It also doesn't mean we have to necessarily do the thing we think we want, because when we kind of tease it apart, that's a really peculiar kind of logic we apply to ourselves that if we've been working as an accountant our entire adult life, but what we really want is to be a juggler on a cruise ship, well then that means I have to completely blow up my life and throw everything away and then I'm stuck only ever being a juggler on a cruise ship.

In my experience, in my opinion anyway desires and dreams don't really work that way that oftentimes we discover what we really want when we pursue what we think we want and we can separate ourselves from what we really want by pursuing things we think we should want, that we never really get that process rolling. We never really start that journey to discover what we really want, to truly discover ourselves, because we lock ourselves, we confine ourselves with only a certain set of expected wants. Oh, we're in such and such a culture, we're in such and such social situations, so we must want what other people have. That we see things, especially through social media, especially through the groups that we participate in, other people modeling a certain type of success, a certain type of abundance, a certain type of affluence, a certain type of happiness, and so we naturally assume that if we accumulate and acquire and achieve those very same things, then that must make us happy too.

But the thing is, when it comes to things like happiness, joy, meaning, purpose, fulfillment, all of those things are entirely and inherently personal. No two people want the exact same thing, down to the detail. Everyone's dreams, everyone's wants, everyone's desires vary a little bit. No two people want the exact same things, and that's the beauty of our world, that's the beauty of existence, that's how abundance works, is that there's plenty for everyone, because not everyone wants the same things. There's a desire for everyone and for everyone there's a desire.

But by blocking ourselves into fixed patterns of only wanting certain things, only being able to define success or achievement or joy or fulfillment in very narrow lanes causes us to compete unnecessarily, causes us to crowd those lanes, or we invent and perpetuate this never-ending rat race or, at the very least, a never-ending hamster wheel of trying to get something that everyone else is trying to get at the same time. But I'd wonder, I'd be curious if we'd find things to be far less crowded if we actually allowed ourselves and we actually allowed others as well to go after to pursue what they actually want. Because just by opening this up, just by having the willingness to pursue what we actually want, we set ourselves up to live a life where we actually live it. And again, it often isn't what we think. That our example of our poor accountant that spends his afternoon's dreaming of juggling on cruise ships maybe that cruise ship juggling isn't really what he actually wants. If he never allows himself to at least entertain it, if he never allows himself to ever actually pursue it, he'll never be able to find what lies beyond it.

There are a lot of times what we think we want, especially if we've never actually pursued what we want, are assumptions, our little clumsy are, at the very least, unrefined and unfocused, because we've never actually tried, we've never actually allowed ourselves to pursue what we really want. So we've never really developed the life skill, We've never really developed the practice of trying to live what we want, of trying to really go after what we want, of engaging with the question, the idea how would my life be different if I actually went for it? How would my life be different if I actually pursued what I want? And, of course, getting comfortable with getting curious, with becoming aware of what we really want, doesn't mean that we'll all of a sudden become impulsive and irresponsible. It doesn't mean that we'll instantly throw everything away. That's the fear of our upbringing, that's the fear of very well-intentioned people not wanting us to suffer and struggle.

We start inheriting these messages as children of usually well-meaning adults that are just trying to set us up for a life absent of struggle and strain and failure. But I think anyone who's lived in the amount of life realizes avoiding those things is actually impossible. Even if we make the most sound, rational, logical choice on what we pursue, we will still have struggle, we will still have strain. Those are inescapable parts of life. But we also really cut ourselves off from a lot of elements of life when we're unwilling to suffer, when we're unwilling to struggle, when we're unwilling to have strain, because on the other side of that struggle and suffering and strain is growth.

It's kind of like if we completely wall our lives off and try to prevent ever feeling any kind of pain, then we separate ourselves from ever feeling a similar, if not increased, amount of joy. This could be something as simple as we have a dream where we really want a certain pet, we really want a dog, but we can't bear the fact it rips our heart in half that someday that dog will die, and when that dog dies that will be very sad, that will be completely desolating. And so we separate ourselves, we exile ourselves from the joy of having that wonderful animal in our life because we're so afraid, we're so unwilling to feel the pain of when that animal leaves. That life presents us with a similar sort of bargain, with all of our dreams, with all of our deep held, strongly felt desires. Yes, we may be disappointed. Yes, we may have our heart broken. Yes, we will certainly encounter an experienced failure. Yes, we will certainly encounter an experienced pain, but for unwilling to feel the negative, we will also separate ourselves from the positive.

We will confine ourselves to such a narrow and small life. We can build a life that feels mundane and routine and just like a never ending checklist. There we're constantly checking things off, but we never really feel like we're getting anywhere. We never really feel the reward, the satisfaction, the nourishment, the fulfillment of our own life because we're not actually pursuing what we really want. It's a part of pursuing what we want.

A big part of pursuing what we want, is first endeavoring, after getting curious about identifying what do I really want? We can really help inform this question by understanding who we really are, what actually matters to us, what our value system really is, what energizes us, what de-energizes us, what makes us feel alive, what makes us feel like we're slowly dying? And if we come across desires and dreams that seem a little odd, that seem a little strange, that seem a little weird, what if we tried acceptance, at the very least? What if we just tried tolerance? What if we just allow these dreams to exist, knowing we don't actually have to even act on them, but by pretending they don't by trying to satisfy ourselves with doing things we don't actually want to do doesn't really get us anywhere. It just separates us from the life that we want even more, even further. Because if we think that what we want is a little too weird, a little too strange for us, then we'll also interpret that as whatever we want is being impossible, at the very least it's being unreasonable. But are we sure? Have we actually tried?

Because so many of us give up on what we want, end up being talked out of what we want, either by well-meaning people around us or our culture or, more often, ourselves. So many of us quit joy, quit fulfillment, quit meaning, before we even try, before we even give it a chance. And so I guess all I'm advocating for all I'm a fan of is trying is trusting ourselves and seeing what happens, of course being responsible, of course being aware we have to be grounded in the truth, we have to be grounded in reality. That's obvious. But we can both be grounded in truth and reality as well as pursue what we actually want, because a lot of times, if we think we have pretty wild ideas about what we really want and we actually start to pursue them, we'll realize that those things aren't actually right. Those are kind of fanciful dreams that we'd had from a state of where we were doing something that was particularly un-nourishing or un-fulfilling or unrewarding, that we constructed these grandiose solutions because we felt bad, because we were starving, we needed some sort of nourishment, we needed life to give something back to us so badly that it seemed like it would take a solution that was great and grand and huge and amazing. But if we actually start exploring what we want, I think most of us find that we can be gratified, we can be satisfied, we can be satiated with far less than we thought, that it doesn't actually take fame or wealth or tremendous achievement or accomplishment or no-doriety to get what we want. Is that sometimes at least, those things are actually a pretty paltry substitute for what we really want? And it's an interesting thought experiment to ask ourselves, to really entertain the idea what would my life be like if I actually accepted what I really want, if I wasn't the first person to tell myself no, if I wasn't the first person to tell myself can't Because those no and can'ts usually lead to won'ts that this can be an unfortunate thing that happens to us as we grow up, as we become adults, is we feel we have to put all childish things away.

In one core childish behavior that many of us put away is dreaming. It's having dreams that are unfettered, that are truly free, that we have to confine our dreams. We have to confine our wants to very narrow lanes of expectation, to very narrow lanes of tradition, to very narrow lanes of what we should want, of what should be good. But when it comes to things like meaning and fulfillment and happiness and joy, we all know there is no should. Either it is or it isn't, and everything is or isn't. For us personally, individually, no matter how happy something makes someone else, that's no guarantee that'll make us happy at all. In fact, it could be quite the opposite. The thing that brings someone else tremendous joy can bring us tremendous misery, and we just make our path so much longer, we make our life so much more dreary and grim or, at the very least, confusing, by introducing comparison with our dreams, with our desires of doing things, because other people are doing these things and seems to be working out pretty great for them.

But at some point we all have to ask ourselves well, how does this actually work for me? How does it actually fit and comport with what I want, with who I am? From a broader perspective, how does this actually fit with why I believe I'm here, that if I believe this life, this existence, exists with a purpose, what is that purpose really for me? What am I here to do? If life is all about growing and expanding, in what direction am I meant to grow and expand? In what ways am I here? To become a more ideal version of myself? What evolution, what refinement am I here to go through and experience?

Because a big part of walking this spiritual path is encountering and embracing the truth, and one of the best ways we can start ourselves on that path is learning to be honest with ourselves, learning to be honest about ourselves. We can see this reflected in ideas. Like I am, that I am, of course, something as kind of vague and abstract as this is open to interpretation, certainly, but the way that I interpret it anyway is that there are two ideas surrounding our own identity, surrounding our own ideas of ourselves, and that we can best bring these two ideas into union with each other by bearing witness to ourselves, knowing that we are that we are, or, to put it another way, we are, that we're being, we can have these two ideas of ourselves, we can have this concept of ourselves. Then we can have how we actually are, what we actually do. Because the best way to get to know ourselves, the best way to really know ourselves, is to really be aware, to really bear witness in what we actually do, how we behave, how we think, what choices we make when confronted with a situation. Do we do A or B? What kind of person are we when we're living our life? And that, the more we can bring into alignment, into congruence, those two ideas, that concept of ourselves and who we actually are when we're out living our life, doing whatever we do, the better. The more that those two things are in union, the more those two things are the same, the better, because that's wholeness, that's integrity. We're not living life as this split personality where we have all these ideas about who we are, but who we actually are is completely different.

We bring ourselves into union, into alignment with ourselves, and one of the best ways, or at least a very good way, to know ourselves is to really know what we want, really know what we want deep down on the inside, what really matters to us what we really value, what we really treasure, what really matters, and then find ways to orient our life in that direction. And it doesn't mean, as soon as we get kind of an inkling about what we want, what we'll instantly be able to inhabit it. These aren't magic tricks, these aren't life hacks, these aren't shortcuts. This is building a life where we orient ourselves in the direction of a more idealized, expressed version of ourselves, because our life isn't our achievements, our life isn't what we've gotten done. Our life is what we do. Our life is what we're doing right now and in every moment from now on. I am that I am. I am that I do. This is who we really are.

And this is also why we can attain and find so much value in uniting our lives and our dreams, because then this concept of ourselves can find expression, these dreams can find their way into our doing. Because, ultimately, if what we really want is based on who we really are, then if we're doing what we really want, then we're being who we really are. This is one of the ways we can bring ourselves into alignment with ourselves. We can remove falsity and illusion and compensation and corruption and pretending and manipulation and dishonesty from our lives by finding integrity. By finding integrity with ourselves being the same on the outside as we are on the inside, being the same at the surface as we are at our core. Because we find the life we want by pursuing what we want. We live the life of our dreams. By being honest about what we really want and by actually pursuing our dreams, it doesn't matter how unusual they may be. And if we want to be a juggler on a cruise ship, we should try to be a juggler on a cruise ship, because I think, for most of us anyway, the biggest regrets we have are the things we didn't do.

Of course I've done a million things I wish I hadn't. Of course I look at some of the things I've done with a little bit of embarrassment or the really like why didn't I do that? But the big ones, the ones that really hit different, are the things I didn't do, because they'll always be that wondering, they'll always be that uncertainty of what would have happened if I would have gone for it, what would have happened if I would have gotten over my own fear, my own insecurity, my own unwillingness to go with myself, my own unwillingness to truly be myself, those things that really matter to me. What would happen if I really went for it, if I really made that the centerpiece of the life that I'm trying to build, if I really made that the focus of the life that I'm living, of the person I'm being, that I've found? Anyway, bringing these aspects of myself into alignment pays incredible dividends.

It's hard to express and fully appreciate the value of a life aligned and, conversely, I've definitely lived the conflict of a life out of alignment. It's actually been most of the time, and a lot of that time was pretty awful, and so I think it's important, in my opinion anyway, I think it's vital to actually pursue what we want, to actually accept our own dreams, to fully, unconditionally accept ourselves and then lean in that direction, nourish those ideas, express the reality of who we really are and find our way to a full life, find a way to pursue our dreams, no matter what they are, and allow our dreams to shift and change. Know that just because we're pursuing something doesn't mean that's all we'll ever be able to do, doesn't mean that that will lock us in to only one particular life. I think, if we think that way, that I can't possibly go do this thing, because then that will confine me to a very specific life that I may not even want. That's the thinking of someone who's already confined, that already feels perhaps a little trapped, and I'd make the argument anyway that that confinement is through how we confine ourselves.

That oppression we feel is through us oppressing ourselves. And one of the ways so many of us so easily, so comfortably, so automatically oppress ourselves is by talking ourselves out of what we actually want, talking ourselves out of our own dreams. And so what's the harm in trying? We can trust ourselves. We're responsible people, we're aware people. We're not going to do anything damaging. We're not four year olds given keys to a car. We can try, we can attempt, because in my opinion most regretful life is for the one that's been unlived. So I'd rather try and fail than it would be scared to start.

And so in my own life anyway, I've had to come to grips with all of these things. I've had to accept what I really want, even though it feels different than most other people, even though it feels a bit isolating. It feels like I can't really wholeheartedly celebrate the material achievements of other people. Of course I'm happy for them, of course I'm happy that they get what they want. But at least for me anyway, it doesn't really resonate. I don't really share in that.

The same way, I feel the calling to a different path. I feel the calling to a path that feels like unity, that feels like union, that feels like unity and it feels like union with who I really am, with what I really want, with what my dreams really are, with what my desires really are. Because in my experience anyway, I've found that's what actually feels the best, that's what's actually nourishing, that's what's actually fulfilling and kind of a crazy way turns out, what I want is actually what I want and living what I want is actually pretty good. So that's a worthwhile pursuit, that's a worthwhile thing to do. At the very least it's a worthwhile thing to try, because as long as I'm trying, I'm on the path. As long as I'm making an attempt, I'm growing towards that more ideal version of myself. It might be slow going, may seem like it's actually moving backwards a little bit, but at least I'm not stuck, at least I'm not stagnant, at least I'm not captured and confined through my own unwillingness to accept what I really want. Because I allow myself to want what I really want, I set myself free, I set my heart free To desire To dream, and by setting myself free, I also set myself free to walk the path of actually experiencing it.

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