"Robyn, I know you just woke up and haven't had coffee yet, but I need to show you something."
Bleary eyed, I look up at Justin's earnest face wondering what I am about to agree to. "Lay it on me, mister. What's up?"
To which he produces a single sheet of paper and says, "This is my ultimate dream." I glance down at a page filled with what looks like hieroglyphics. It's clearly labeled "Dirt Jumpers" and he goes on to explain how he would drop in off a berm and into this maze of dirt jumping glory. I can see that he has already envisioned the mad air over and over and over again--flying through the sky and landing each jump to wild applause down below. His dream is practically a reality.
How fun it is to dream up big dreams. To see ourselves flourish in our minds--we've never looked or sounded better. It's why we sing with hairbrushes in the mirror or close our eyes and dance in our basements. It's why we picture ourselves mid-pack of the peloton only to grit our way to the front and then with hands overhead, cross the finish line. The music is bumping (it's likely "Uproar" by Lil Wayne) and the crowd can't believe it's a 45-year old woman crushing Peter Sagan. Oh wait...could that be my dream? ;-)
But truth be told, we are often fearful of realizing these big dreams, preferring the perfected fantasies in our minds. Sometimes it's just too damn hard, too complicated, or out of reach and we lose track of what we can actually accomplish.
This summer, I had the opportunity to coach a youth mountain bike team (Go Descenders!). Something I heard from many of the kids at the beginning of the season was this, "I can't...<insert climb hill, clear obstacle, ride fast, change flat tires, shift>." And sure, at that point in time, many couldn't do those things. As the summer progressed, we collectively tried and failed and tried some more until we could all climb hills, clear obstacles, ride fast, change flats, and shift when needed. How often I heard, "I'm scared." To which I would reply, "I know. It's good to be scared. Remember that fear when you totally crush this. It tells you how much you've learned. It's your super power for trying the next big thing."
One night late in the season, Lily, a quiet 6th grader leaned into me as we were finishing up practice, as whispered, "Wanna race?"
I am the most non-competitive person...well, until challenged...game face on, we locked eyes, and took off crunching the trail beneath us, our headlights allowing us to see only a few feet in front of us. Click, click, click went the gears. Lily crouched lower, putting her entire body into each pedal stroke. We wove around the others, dodged obstacles, and pushed toward an invisible finish line. Her effort was gorgeous--I let up for a millisecond to admire her form and tenacity. A wrong move for the challenge, as she, of course, inched ahead of me. However, in that moment, I realized how important it is to push ourselves, our children, our friends--how important it is to push, and then get out of the way and simply see what happens. What happens at that invisible finish line may not be very glamorous or what was expected at the onset, but it's a very real win that belongs solely to us. And I'd much prefer that to my fantasy victory over Sagan any day.