Dreams really can come true. I am a testament to that statement as I am about to fulfill a lifetime goal of moving to Argentina to start an incredible new personal and professional journey. The years of wishing, working, and practicing tremendous patience has finally paid off and my “happily ever after” (i.e. ticket south of the boarder) has arrived.
But is it a coincidence that on the day I was supposed to be jet setting off into the sunset, I was instead chained (metaphorically speaking) to a hospital bed feeling completely helpless and debilitated by the worst stomach pains I’ve experienced in my life? Could it be that now that the far-off fantasy is an immediate actuality, the stress and fear of failure completely overwhelmed me? I find it ironic even that of all possible health issues, my stomach – which I try so hard to care for (and often control in the sense of staying healthy and fit) – seemingly rebels against me at a time when I am seeking strength and valiance. Now I can’t help but question what my gut was trying to declare so violently over the noise of all that anxiety I’ve been harboring.
The essence of fear as I understand it logically is a feeling of lack of control or understanding of the unknown. But there’s nothing like unexpectedly being imprisoned by a health condition to remind us that control is a total fallacy. It’s a concept created by our egos to make us believe we are really more important in the grand scheme of the infinite universe than we really are. I am not saying that we as individuals do not play a significant role in our presence on this earth, but our egos act like a deceptive shield against true vulnerability, which is actually a beautiful and arguably necessary emotion if we choose to embrace it.
The paradox of the concept of control is that we can only really take life as it comes and control our attitude and response to it – that is, NOT adopt an attitude of fear. We can embrace life’s challenges and mysteries as all part of a bigger plan, while surrendering to the reality of having no material power whatsoever. Interestingly, our “guts” can play a crucial role in our responses and reactions. We as humans have evolved with so much noise in our lives but if we can stop and listen to ourselves, our instincts, we might actually know what our gut is telling us. Maybe my stomach pains were a manifestation of all the stress and fear, and ultimately they were trying to remind me about what’s really important. Why fulfill a dream if it’s overshadowed by anxiety over the unknown and undue pressure to prove that I’m really worthy of the dream itself?
Fortunately, I am walking away from this experience healthy and with only a short delay to my South American escapade. But more importantly, I am now packing a “mental suitcase” of sorts with a healthier perspective. While moving to Argentina is a dream come true, it’s not the key to my happiness. The shadows of doubt and self-inflicted burden to “succeed” will only cloud the experience that I’ve been waiting to realize. Happiness is not about being in a particular place, but rather about a perspective and how we respond to the daily trials and rewards. Here’s hoping I can listen to my gut instincts when that perspective starts to fade amid all the commotion from the daily grind. It’s clearer than ever that I need to trust those instincts to guide me down my path of true gratification, filled with vulnerability and wonder as I explore the new and unfamiliar terrain ahead.