I recently bumped into this quote by the American author Denis Waitley:
“There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them.”
For some reason it reminded me of a nightmare I had as a child:
The dream was about a huge navy ship that I was visiting with my parents. It was lying in the harbour – almost ready to sail – and we were invited on board to have a quick look. I was fascinated by the ship, and ran ahead of my parents, playing around in the different rooms of the ship, pretending that I was the captain. And I totally forgot about time & place. But suddenly I looked out of the window and realized that the ship had left the harbour. We were sailing! And through the small, circular window I could see my parents waving desperately at me from the shore.
I started screaming, and ran off to find the real captain.
–You have to turn the ship around, I’m not supposed to be here, I cried.
But he just looked at me with sad eyes and said:
–I’m sorry kiddo. I can’t help you. This ship is way to big to turn around, it can only sail in one direction. The only way for us to get back to where we came from is by sailing around the earth. But don’t you worry. It will only take a year.
Luckily, this is where I woke up.
I was all sweaty and my heart was beating like crazy. Being six or seven at the time, the thought of living on a ship without my family was pretty much the end of the world. But I believe there’s also another reason why this dream scared me so much:
The feeling of not having a choice.
Life is full of challenges, and we all know what it’s like to feel stuck. Loosing a job, a friend or a lover. Saying things we regret. Doing things we can’t undo. Being sick. Being hurt. Doubting ourselves. Feeling lonely. Sooner or later we all run into problems that seem impossible to solve.
But the good news is: being absolutely stuck – with no options what so ever – is something that only occurs in nightmares. In the real world, our ships CAN be turned around. We always have the power to choose!
We might feel like we are drowning. We might feel like the walls are closing in around us. We might believe that there is absolutely nothing we can do to change our circumstances, to be happy again, to move on. But this is not true.
One of the main things that separate humans from animals is our power to make choices. When nothing feels right, we can choose to take a left. We can choose to walk away, to turn around or to keep walking. We can smile, even when it feels like we have nothing to smile about. We can raise our voices, even when we feel like hiding. We can get out of bed and create changes in our lives, even when it feels like gravity itself is holding us back.
No matter how stuck we feel, it’s always possible to take a small step forward. And now is the time to do it!
Like Barack Obama says:
”Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek”