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The Unbearable Tension Between Never Going to Happen and Dream Come True

Congratulations! Today is your day. You’re Off to Great Places You’re Off and Away.

The infamous, pastel page screamed from the bottom of my high school graduation gift box – the unparalleled peppiness and optimism that only goes unpunched when spoken by a beautiful cheerleader or the Dr. himself. As a seventeen year-old, I was as wide-eyed and baby-faced as they come, ready to take on this not-so-big and not-so-scary world.

As the years march on like a beating drum and as my ten-year high school reunion invitation lurks forebodingly at the bottom of my union postal workers large blue bag, I can’t help but wonder if I did something wrong. Did I miss the great places I was supposed to go? Did I make a wrong turn? Is this really all that life ever had planned for me?

You see there is monstrous pressure in this Facebook, social media-crazed generation of ours. Pressure to prove we’ve made it. Pressure to always appear happy and put together. Pressure to account for every major life decision in front of the 983 member jury of our peers.

This intense feeling is multiplied by a hundred for a man who writes a blog about living life to fullest. “Why in God’s name should anyone listen to anything you have to say?” the enemy screams at me. “Who are you to give anyone advice when your biggest dreams haven’t come true?”

I didn’t make it out of bed for much of the last two days – the enemy winning as he tends to do. I spun out in the unbearable tension of this season: the tension between “never going to happen” and “dream come true.” A wave of disappointment and loneliness took down every ounce of the strength and resilience I’ve spent the last five years building up. I guess sometimes I just get so tired of trying to overcome.

I am exhausted from waiting for everything to be perfect.

Turns out Dr. Seuss warned that these moments would come in a part of the poem that teenage Sam glossed over.

I’m afraid that some times you’ll play lonely games too. Games you can’t win ’cause you’ll play against you.

All Alone! Whether you like it or not, Alone will be something you’ll be quite a lot.

And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants. There are some, down the road between hither and yon, that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.

Sometimes life is too painful to march forward. Sometimes I am trapped by the quicksand of disappointment and regret. Sometimes I get stuck visiting the graveyard of all the friends and relationships that have ceased to exist. Sometimes I want it all to fade to black.

That’s the thing about life: there will always be moments when we desperately want to give up. There will always be moments when everything falls apart. But on we must go…

But on you will go though the weather be foul. On you will go though your enemies prowl. On you will go though the Hakken-Kraks howl. Onward up many a frightening creek, though your arms may get sore and your sneakers may leak.

On and on you will hike, And I know you’ll hike far and face up to your problems whatever they are.

What if this moment, today, is one of the Great Places we were meant to go? You see, even when our big dreams do come true, life will never be the Instagram filter we wish it was. As Jim Carrey said, “I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer”?

So maybe I haven’t gone all the places that seventeen year-old me hoped I would go. Maybe I don’t have everything all together like a person would imagine for their 10 year reunion. Maybe the mountaintop moments of my biggest life dreams are still a longs ways down this crazy journey of mine.

But tomorrow I rise for the millionth time. Tomorrow I dust off the mud of my failures and march on. Tomorrow, I keep moving my mountains and continue on in endless search for joy in the every day life. Tomorrow I once again get up and thank God for all the great places I’ve already gone and all the great places I will go.

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So… be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea, You’re off the Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So…get on your way!

Love, Sam


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These songs were picked specifically for this post and can be found in my Spotify Playlist:

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