On Quitting Small and Safe


In the book Love Does, Bob Goff talks about how he quits something every Thursday. The idea revolves around this: we pick up so much unnecessary stuff along the way—we can always benefit from cutting off some dead weight.

If you’ve picked up a bad habit of eating unhealthy food, you could quit that. If you realize you criticize others or yourself too much, you could quit that. If you watch too much Netflix, you could quit that. (Only after you finish the latest House of Cards season, of course.)

I know it’s not Thursday, but today, I’m going to quit something.

I want to quit caging my hope.

I want to quit putting chains on what’s possible in this life.

I want to quit extinguishing my dreams.

This is a simplified summary of the inner workings of my mind and heart: I have a dream, an idea, a thought of what some aspect of life could or should be. I envision that a relationship could be a certain way, or that a group of people could come together and create a certain kind of community, or that I could accomplish some task or purpose with a skill I have. Hope sparks inside me. As my heart beats faster, it fans that flame until it grows into a fire.

But it doesn’t stay that way for long. I have this funny habit of shutting down my hope. It’s like I go to the store and pick out a shiny, sexy dream I love. I bring it home, set it down on the living room floor, and just stare at it. Before I ever even take it out of the packaging, I convince myself it’s not for me. The next day, I’m in the customer service line ready to return it.

I keep thinking…why do I do this?

Our past experiences have a way of shaping our current perspective.

For a long time, I let a single relationship douse my dreams. I allowed it to cut off the oxygen from what I hoped for and wanted out of life. For such a long time and with such consistency, my hopes were put out like a cigarette butt ground into the pavement by an unforgiving heel. Soon enough, hoping and dreaming could barely move past the ignition phase. It was like trying to start a campfire in the rain with water-logged wood.

I started to believe the ways I dreamed life could be, the hope I had, the kind of relationships I wanted, the places I could travel, the accomplishments I could achieve, the depth of love into which I could dive…were impossible. Foolish.

They were either fairy tales, or they were for somebody else, not me. This is what was for me: small dreams. Safe dreams. Anything that could fit inside the thimble-sized cage that was my reality for so long.

I can’t accept that anymore.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve tasted just enough, I’ve glimpsed just enough of what’s possible for us in this life. It’s like I lived underground for years, stopped believing in things like the sun and daylight, and suddenly rays of light began to force their way through some cracks above (Kimmy Schmidt, anyone?).

So today, I’m untethering my hope. I’m expanding my vision for what I’m capable of and what is within my reach.

I’m quitting fear. I’m quitting doubt. I’m quitting safe and small dreams. I’ve limited myself for too much time, for too many dark and claustrophobic years.

I’m going to let the fire grow.

I’m going to step off the ledge.

I’m going to dive deep.

It’s time.


Feature photo ©2013 James Wheeler | Flickr