Life Is Short—Don’t Wait to Do What You’ve Always Dreamed of Doing

Posted by on August 26, 2017 in Conscious Evolution, Conscious Living, Thrive with 0 Comments

running towards your dreams

By Melissa Haynes | Tiny Buddha

“Life is short. Say what you’ve wanted to say. Do what you’ve wanted to do. Don’t wait until the only thing you can say is, I wish I’d had the courage to do it sooner.” ~Lori Deschene


Lunch hour.

Escaping the stale, re-circulated air of my office, I fled down Main Street in pursuit of freedom from the routine of the day.

A rusty bell clanged against the door of a dusty used bookstore when I pushed it open.

Scanning the horizon of bulging shelves and teetering stacks of magazines, my eyes suddenly met his and my heart began to race.


They were the blazing orange eyes of an African lion on the dog-eared, sun-faded cover of a National Geographic magazine.

I hadn’t seen those eyes in thirty years, but their impact on me hadn’t faded.

As a kid I use to spend hours dreaming within the pages of these very magazines before cutting out pictures of unsuspecting lions and elephants to carry them around in a small wicker basket—a somewhat seventies version of a vision board.

One Sunday night, I brought a three-page book I had written about these magical creatures, complete with pasted-in cut-outs, to the dining room table where everyone had gathered for dinner.

Feeling proud with accomplishment, I handed it to my dad, a retired Naval officer, who held it up and began to read it aloud—only soon he couldn’t read anymore, for he was laughing so hard and so was everyone else.

Of course they were just laughing because they thought it was cute, but I was only six years old. How could I possibly have known that?

That day I stopped playing with magazine cut-outs of African animals and writing silly little stories to paste them into.

That day I stopped dreaming about Africa.

Have you ever had a dream that got away?

Have you ever wanted to do something—paint sunsets, sing opera, run marathons, design skyscrapers—but stopped yourself before you even tried because it wasn’t realistic, practical or, in line with what your family/friends/co-workers expected of you?

When we shelve our dreams, the human experience runs the risk of feeling more like a life sentence of obligations.

When the lunch hour was up I returned to work with an African lion tucked under my arm.

In the days that followed, I looked at that magazine often, dreaming of being under a blazing crimson African sky, only now that sky was clouded with regret.

The opportunity of spending a ‘gap year’ volunteering in Africa or joining the Youth Corps had long since passed.

Or had it? Yes, it’s true I couldn’t go to Africa for several months, but maybe I could volunteer in Africa for a few weeks.

Over the next several weeks I gave myself permission to at least play with the idea. I began to research short-term volunteer opportunities in Africa with lions, elephants, and all the other magical animals I use to tote around in that little wicker basket.

I began to budget, barter, and save, determined to make it happen.

Even that old, worn-out lion on the magazine cover seemed to be perking up as the puzzle of a plan began to come together.

Months later that lion, now freed from its magazine, was tucked into my passport folder as I boarded a plane for Cape Town, South Africa to volunteer on an African animal conservation project.

Thrill and excitement deafened the echoes of friends and co-workers who thought I was going to Africa because I was ‘lost’ or approaching a mid-life crisis.

No, I’m going to Africa because I want to stop saying, I wish I’d done it sooner.

I arrived and met my boss, a khaki-clad, burly, young (ten years my junior) South African ranger named Gary.

With big, strong hands on his hips, he eyed my tennis shoes and embellished denim clam diggers and said,

“Let me guess, you’re here because you dreamed of Africa.”

“Yes!” I beamed.

He grunted and said, “Well it’s time to wake up, Canada. This is a working game reserve; these are wild animals.”

“Okay.”

“You’ll be sleeping alone over there in that tent. The electrical wire mostly keeps the animals out.”

“Ooooo.K.”

 

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