“If you knew you had only one more year to live,
what would you do?”
The other day I was talking to a friend of mine, discussing that very question. And I had the answer ready even before I had raised this question: Of course, I would quit my job at once, take what little money I have put aside and travel the world. Get in touch with people everywhere and learn about foreign cultures. Just because I knew that this would be the thing that would most make me happy. There was no question about it.
And still, I regarded it impossible. But while I was still going on about all the reasons why, of course, this option was not available to me, he simply said:
And with that answer, as if he had granted me permission to seriously consider this “childish” idea that had been hiding at the back of my mind for a long time, I could sense a slight, but clearly perceivable, feeling of freedom and happiness – as if, somewhere deep inside of me, something was rejoicing.
So it seems no wonder that, lately, I have found myself resonating especially with songs about this issue. Songs not only about travelling, but rather about setting off, and songs about taking that step into the unknown and following your heart’s calling. Just as this cover of a Tom Waits song by Rebekka Bakken.
Ever since that discussion I have been musing on this idea. I started thinking about actually making it reality. And I have come to a point where I do consider it a possibility at least in parts.
But still, I am wondering about this concept of following the true calling of your heart, by finding out about what truely makes you happy and turning this into that one big goal. On which you should focus with all your energy. Is this really the only sensible approach to living a purposeful life? And how do I even know if – just because they feel good – the things that make me happy now will eventually lead me to “the ultimate goal”?
And if I failed – wouldn’t I then have left all my safety nets behind? How can I make sure of the outcome if I just follow an idea out of a whim, just because, now, it feels good? And without knowing where it might take me?
This is where, again, that song kicks in:
If you want to go
where the rainbows end
you’ll have to say goodbye
all our dreams come true
baby up ahead
And then a friend shared a video with me recently. In this video, Australian comedian, actor, and musician Tim Minchin kind of laughingly discloses his “nine life lessons”. Starting off with the lapidary statement that “you don’t have to have a dream”.
Granted, that kept me thinking for a while. Until I finally realized that I might indeed have got the whole idea wrong. At least to me, Minchin made a point by implying that focussing on that one big dream you might miss out on your life completely. In fact, I found it to be true for myself that whenever I assign very high importance to a goal (and what could be more important than living your true calling?) I put a lot of pressure on myself that whatever I do must bring me closer to that one goal. This seems to be the apporach I have always taken.
So for once, with Minchin’s words in mind and supported by all those beautiful songs, eventually, I decided to try something new:
Yes, I am going to travel, and by doing so, I will be pursuing the road that seems to be the one I want to have a look at now.
And why shouldn’t it be true that by following our heart’s current cravings we are heading for a direction that eventually brings us where we are supposed to be – no matter if we have a clear picture of it now?
Well, the road’s out before me
and the moon is shining bright
And so my next trip is going to start as early as tomorrow.