My husband wrote a post yesterday that I think was very brave; he published his own life list.
When I wrote my life list, it took a certain amount of courage for me to acknowledge all of my big dreams. I worried about appearing grandiose more than I thought about dying with anything undone. People like me, people with vast imaginations and pompous pursuits, often have to endure chiding from the more realistic and pragmatic.
Jared doesn’t worry about being too bold.
“Once I wrote out my life list, I was somewhat embarrassed. Either I have a small imagination or I have just been trained to think that people like me cannot achieve their dreams.”
As his wife, my heart cringed to read that he felt even a moment of embarrassment, to think that he considered himself in any way small. But at the same time I was inspired, because I think it takes a great deal of guts to put yourself out in the world just as you are, especially when you suspect you are not big, bold, or grandiose enough.
My friend Lisa commented on that post, and she echoed a sentiment I have heard from her and other friends before, a fear my husband seems to share.
Am I really this unambitious?
Again my heart stuttered.
Lisa, like Jared, is someone whose steadiness I have often relied on and admired. She is peaceful and solid, wise when I am brash. No, she is not the person I call when I’m making list of foreign countries to which I could move, but she was one of the first people I texted when I found out about my brother’s sentencing, and she knew exactly how to comfort me from hundreds of miles away.
That’s not to say that Jared and Lisa’s value lies solely in being a stellar support for me and my ilk.
I wonder sometimes if they know that.
I wonder if Jared hesitates to pursue his own version of happiness because he perceives it as smaller than mine, because it doesn’t require passports or thousands of dollars.
I wonder if he knows how much the world needs him to embrace his own life list.
Because it does. We do.
We need to know that it takes a powerful sense of accountability to decide to learn a foreign language. We need to know that it is at first awkward and then thrilling to take a dance class, mastering the unknown so that it becomes the new normal. We need to know that it is those seemingly small, personal, easily achievable dreams that are the most important to chase after, in no small part because they can be caught.
So often we go through our lives in a fog, neglecting to do the little things that would make us happy because we fear they are silly, unworthy of our time, too big, or too small. I believe deciding to step out of the fog of our own lives changes the world. More than that, it changes our lives.
And changing our own lives is no small thing at all.