Every innovator can identify the turning point in life — that storybook moment where suddenly an epiphany linking inspiration, purpose, passion, dedication, and the yellow brick road finally (and brilliantly) converge. That gauzy fog lifting to bright sunshine, asking only ‘why have I attempted anything else in life?’
I’m sitting atop the brick wall, my feet dangling beneath my perennially skinned knees, admiring the sun-dappled clouds above and below these days, confident in how the future unfolds.
All my life, I’ve unabashedly confused two concepts: anything and everything. More precisely, that the two are interchangable — that I can do anything and equally substitute that I can do everything.
And that’s not true nor realistic nor probable. (I will leave just enough room for possible — a little suspension of reality is necessary to get any dream, hope, wish, or desire to its realistic ambitions. Or being wrong and the proof smeared across my face.) I can do anything, but cannot do everything I want. I won’t do anything, but I will do everything I want.
There’s a peculiar relieving sadness in this new-found distinction; coming to grips not with the blacks and whites of strengths or weaknesses, but instead the finer greys between like and love, between interest and dedication, between goals and purpose, and between the multivariate choices along the way.
What is it I’m truly dedicated to? That I love? That I can accomplish, given the skills and abilities I’ve cultivated over the past thirty years? That gives me (and others) purpose? What do I choose to spend my time on, given magnanimous equality to all options? And, most importantly: recognizing and accepting the inevitable sacrifice that must accompany such decisions.
Before today, I wallowed in the abstract — big ideas, creativity, solving problems, reading, writing, thinking. I could tell anyone exactly what displeased my disposition in all the past choices made, and where my regrets and inabilities betray my confidence, yet it lead me no closer to a destination. I knew enough (sensed, maybe, or judged rather than knowledge) not to set my sails for tradewinds, but instead embark to the vast unknown, be there dragons, doldrums, or worse.
And much better. I’ve found my purpose, my passion, my dedication, my inspiration, and just enough direction to know where I’m heading these days. I arrive with a compelling story of adventure and boredom, of love and heartache, and luck both happy and unfortunate, and the experience (and perhaps comfort) to close a novella of indecision and inner turmoil for a epic tale of unbridled innovative work in the field of higher education.