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People who hear about my journey often share their dreams in return. A nameless biker, who lives 4000 miles away is a great confidant. Random conversations in gas stations, restaurants, rest areas, or hotel parking lots start with the weather and end with personal fantasies, aspirations, and regrets.
In a small town in North Carolina, nestled in the Blue Ridge mountains, I met a hotel receptionist. A smart and interesting guy who is designing a Dungeons and Dragons game with a rule system that’s an order of magnitude more complex. You could see by the way he speaks that he is completely immersed in his project, radiating with excitement and joy. In Tuscaloosa Alabama I spent an hour speaking with the attendant. He works at the gas station to save for college so that he can become a teacher, a first step towards becoming an author. The list is endless: visit a close relative who lives far away, start a business, go to Japan, learn a second language.
And of course, with age the syntax changes. “I will” and “I am” becomes “I wanted to” and “I should have”. To me, this is the heart of the midlife challenge. Midlife is the point in time when people tend to put their dreams to rest, expecting peace and acceptance, not realizing that abandoned dreams continue to boil like lava resting under a thin surface. I think that dreams are meant to be pursued , not accomplished. To flourish and to experience life to its full capacity, one needs to be engaged in the pursuit of one’s dreams every day. The active quest matters much more than the accomplishment. It’s the journey that counts, not the destination.
In the turbulence of daily life we are sunk in deadlines, obligations, carpools, tasks, and chores. These tasks are important. Without them we would not have the things we need and value: a roof over our heads, safety, good education for our children. But dreams matter too, and in the absence of external pressure to chase them, they often get abandoned and die out. A year ago I did not have a motorcycle license and have never even sat on a bike before. Now I am in Arizona after riding 4000 miles on my second bike. One thing led to another. You never know.