The dreams of our life are a precious commodity, and we pay a huge price if they stay unlived or in our fantasies. Such was the case I witnessed once at the Grand Canyon.
The Grand Canyon is extraordinary and a sight I wish for everyone. It is so large that I struggle every time I am there to comprehend it. Whenever I am within a hundred miles of the Canyon, I try to visit and it was on such a trip that the following occurred. It’s April. The day was unusually warm and misty, but there’s plenty of snow on the ground and as a result I found myself walking through dense fog. It was so thick I couldn't see fifteen feet in front of me and though the canyon immediately dropped away thousands of feet, there was nothing but a gray cloud. I walked back and forth on the rim, staring, peering into the middle of the fog. No view, no real reason to be at the Canyon, because let's face it the Canyon is all about the view. So after a fruitless hour I do what everyone does when there’s no view at the Grand Canyon. I head straight for the gift shop!
I am poking around when in walks this guy. He is beside himself with anger and frustration. His veins are popping out the side of his neck and his thick shirt collar seems to be emitting steam. Talking to no one in particular, but directing his attention to a small Navajo woman behind the counter, he starts right in.
I can’t believe this," he screams. "I’ve waited over forty Goddamn years to see the Grand Canyon. It’s been my dream for my entire Goddamn life. My dream! I finally get the time, take a bus trip here from Florida and it’s fogged in. The Goddamnthing’s fogged in! I’ve been here for six Goddamned fogged-in hours. The bus is leaving in fifteen minutes, and I haven’t seen a thing! Not one Goddamn thing!"
I can feel his rage on my spine. He is clearly a crazy man. Everyone is backing away--except for the very calm Navajo woman who stands behind the counter. Almost counter-intuitively, she moves closer. She looks into his eyes with such kindness and with this kindness holds his gaze. Then she leans forward and gently takes his hand.
"I can understand your disappointment", she quietly says. "Because sometimes the Grand Canyon gets fogged in. But what I can’t understand is why you would devote only six hours of your life to your life’s dream?"
He is stunned and immediately deflates. After a very long minute of silence he looks away and quietly leaves to get on his bus. There is no response from him other than this--he is crying. I have no idea what he is thinking but it has left it's mark.
His powerful lesson is one for all of us--one we often choose not to ask. We must remember to continually query of ourselves in real and honest ways:
1. How do I manifest my dreams in the world? How does that show itself?
2. Where do I abandon my dreams? What is the price that I pay?
Of course, just asking is not enough; words that are not turned into action “bring the pest”, as William Blake once said. In the final analysis, ultimately our dreams don't care if we are happy—our dreams only care that they are lived.