The value of your dream is never in the eye of the beholder
The running of over 60 000 km around the world has zero value to me. My dream isn’t to run 60 000 km, but a consequence of following my dream. But how you perceive these 60 000 km isn’t necessarily the same way I do. Because dreams are personal. They aren't there for other people. That’s why the value of your dream is never to be measured in someone else’s eyes.
To appreciate the value of a persons dream, I think we must first understand perspective.
The person performing an action and the person observing the action almost certainly value the action differently. Neither is more right than the other. The only difference is in which elements one places value.
For me, the thought of running over 60 000 km around the world has zero value, because my dream isn’t to run 60 000 km. That is just a consequence of following my dream.
My dream is to see as much of this planet, with all of Her diversity, as possible, and to be inspired by the people I meet along the way. The value in following my dream comes from meeting the first ever Arab to sing a leading role in the New York Metropolitan Opera. It comes from sitting in open grassland, experiencing for the first time, the smell of a sunset in Arctic Norway.
And yet, to dismiss the distances involved is to do a disservice not just to the observers of the run, but to myself as well.
My distances will inspire some people. Whether they are passionate about running, or whether they envy the incredible privilege I have of setting up my own routine, people will be moved by the act of observing me. And this is a good thing. Because apart from the effect it has on others, it is a reminder of the power of our actions, even though the consequences may often go unnoticed.
Unfortunately, people quite often start off by saying "I also run" and then quickly follow that up with "but obviously not as much as you”. It's frustrating because they undervalue a goal that they themselves have set up in an attempt to be better version of themselves.
And they don't start off by abiding by a random set of parameters of what it means to be a runner. The reasons behind it might be to overcome the stigma of the chubby kid at school, or to test themselves in an arena that is alien to them. It might also be an attempt to establish a sense of control, of at least one aspect of life, in a world that feels totally out of it.
And yet suddenly the value of their efforts is undermined by something as arbitrary as distance.
Realizing the importance of perspective is vital to understanding how we view others around us and it serves as a warning to ensure that we appreciate the skills and talents that we inherit. Because what comes easily to one person may represent a seemingly insurmountable hurdle to another. It forces one to be gracious, humble and thankful. At the same time, it should force the observer to be proud of their own dreams and to not be embarrassed by their ambitions.
We live in a world that celebrates the wrong skills, or the right skills incorrectly. We moan about a CEO being paid 2 million euros in bonuses, but congratulate our football team for employing somebody to kick an inflatable piece of synthetic material at the cost of 50 million. It’s an oversimplification, I know, but we live too much under the glory of a strangers "awesomeness" and forget to look for the awesomeness that lies within.
The Power of Dreams
Our dreams are powerful things. They bring value to each day. Each target achieved builds ones confidence, and with it, a sense of worth. Not just worth in how we can contribute to society, but worth in how we can expect society to behave towards us.
Each target missed affords us the opportunity for introspection, and with introspection, the opportunity to improve still further. To admit to mistakes and to knuckle down and dig deeper into reserves which we might never have known existed.
And yet in spite of all of this, our actions may not in fact impress anybody. The efforts towards achieving our dreams may very well go by unnoticed, or if noticed, viewed as a waste of time.
But dreams are personal. They aren't there for other people. They are ours, and therein lies their value. Pursuing our dreams makes our day-to-day lives happier. And a society filled with happier people is a better society, even if the dreams are misunderstood.