Hiking the Canyon

“Have the courage to run your own race.”  ~ Todd Henry.

There are such powerful women in the world that I look to for guidance, inspiration, nurturing, and strength.  When I let myself melt into a warm shower each night I usually take that sacred and comforting time to think about all that I am grateful for.  And these women who offer their creativity and love and wisdom are so often on that list.  But sometimes I wonder if I look to others too much, forgetting that there is great meaning inside of me as well. 

I’ve been looking left and right a lot lately.  Sometimes Kris is to the left and Gabby is to the right, or the other way around, but either way, I feel their presence with me.  It’s not a bad thing, but I’ve been mulling over how to find my own unique voice and run my own race.  At first I believed that I needed to get things perfectly in my head before I could even think about finding my own voice, but now I am coming to understand that nobody ever understands or does things perfectly and to wait until that is true means that you will never see those deep-down dreams come to fruition.  Yet sometimes when I think about carving out my own path, I feel lost.

I heard the analogy recently of going after what you want is like hiking a canyon.  You can see your destination ahead; it may be far away, but it’s clear.  As you begin to hike you encounter trees and shrubs and branches and maybe even thorns and mud and animals and suddenly, your destination is out of sight.  The air changes.  You’re not sure how you’re ever going to make it.  But you keep climbing until eventually, even through the haze of uncertainty, you get high up enough again to be able to see that destination in sight.  You may still be far from it, but at least you can see it.

That analogy gave me some peace; that everybody who believes they have a message to send into the world for the greater good has also, at times, been in the bottom of that canyon.  It’s normal, expected even (who has never been scared when going after their dreams?), and what I hold onto is my desire to continue climbing (embracing all that happens as I walk, as scary as it may be) until I can see that destination again.  Maybe I’ll even learn a thing or two along the way. 

I was also relieved to hear Todd Henry (author of Louder than Words, among other books) say that sometimes we actually need to “do things that are inefficient in the short run, so that we can be effective in the long run.”  Carving out some me/down/fun time is actually not a waste of time, but can breed incredible creativity.  By giving myself the time and space to let my ideas breathe, though this may seem to be gloriously inefficient, I am actually allowing my dreams to ripen.  I love that.

When I think about having the courage to run my own race and not always be looking left or right (no matter how comforting that is, eventually I’ll need to figure out what kind of impact I want to have on the world), I like to think that by developing my own authentic identity, that’s when the truly meaningful stuff will come.  The middle will be scary (the bottom of the canyon) because I’ll be wondering, “What if I fail?”  But if I remember that my dreams are not only present but are also worth pursing, even if I can’t always figure out how I’ll get there, and am open to learning things about myself along the way, I have a feeling that magnificent things may happen.

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