I have a friend who signed up to compete in a triathlon in a couple weeks. Unlike most sprint distance triathlons which hold the swimming event in an indoor pool, he’ll be swimming 750m outdoors in a lake. I still haven’t decided whether or not I’ll compete in another triathlon, but I have wondered what it would be like to swim 750m in a cold lake. There is a manmade lake in the community where I live in Calgary, so I borrowed a wetsuit and invited my friend to try swimming the lake with me. When we were about to start our second swim, he looked at me and said: “You’re living the dream, aren’t you?” I’m just about sure he didn’t mean that I dream of jumping in a cold lake because that’s a jarring experience (wetsuit or no wetsuit). He works shifts, so he was able to swim with me during the morning, but then he had to go in to work after. I, on the other hand, was going to take my kids and a book to the beach (to play in the sand… I wasn’t going back in the water). It got me thinking, though: What is the dream? Am I living it?
The first time I heard the phrase “the Canadian Dream”, it was in reference to an acquaintance who bought an acreage and moved out of the city. That is a pretty nice deal, but it’s not for everyone. Tim’s blog is called “Canadian Dream”, but it’s clear from some of the comments that early retirement isn’t for everyone either. When it comes right down to it, I’m not sure everyone has a dream. My dream evolves as I go along. When I started swimming, I realized I really enjoy it. Now, I swim 3-5 times per week. I love reading and writing, which I also make time for almost every day. Most days I enjoy spending time with my elementary school aged children, so I take time for that. For a while, I was interested in making different kinds of bread (French, wheat, Chinese buns, steamed buns) and I explored that. I guess my dream could be summed up as continuous learning and growth, for me and my children.
I guess I am living the dream. I know what I want from my life and I’m doing it. I don’t always make the best choices, and sometimes at the end of a week I’ll look back with the feeling that I wasted too much time. But whatever choices I make, I take full responsibility because I’m not working for anyone else. There’s no need to be retired to take responsibility for my choices. A person who is self-employed would likely have the same sense of purpose, especially if their work is meaningful. Even an employee needs to take responsibility for their choices and can’t count on someone else to make their life meaningful. I have the luxury of time, but everyone has to decide what to do with their limited time and money.
What is your dream? What will it take to be able to live it? Are you getting closer?