Folks, I have a confession. I am in a passionate love affair. With pizza. Specifically, frozen pizza. Doesn’t matter the type. Rising crust, fancy, just plain old Tombstone, or my personal favorite, St. Louis style Lena’s. I LOVE frozen pizza. I love the convenience of getting to eat my favorite food without having to talk to anyone or leave my house. It’s not something I want to sacrifice.
Eating frozen pizza is easy. I could do it everyday. I do sometimes. Typically eating frozen pizza requires no sacrifice. Anybody with an oven can fire up a frozen pizza. But when you’re living out of a teardrop trailer, frozen pizza is one of the sacrifices you have to make.
So why make the sacrifice?
Because when you choose to eat frozen pizza on the couch, nothing happens. Other than your waistline expanding without your express written consent. Sure you can watch Netflix or HBO or whatever and be entertained. But that’s too easy. Indulgent. Repetitive. Mindless.
Wouldn’t you rather open your door on Geiger Key and be greeted by the sweet scent of charcoal grills firing up as the sunset creeps in? Join the family you met paddle boarding around the mangroves earlier in the day for burgers. Listen to their teenager struggling to play the guitar, but giving it his best. Eventually open up a chorus of whatever song you realize you all know and love. Throw some s’mores on the fire. Listen to your new friend John tell the legend about how his great-great-great-great grandfather took a Turkish prince for all his worth. Only to give it right back in a prideful yet embarrassing arm wrestling match with the prince’s female bodyguard. Get bested by their twelve year old in a constellation spotting contest. Because for the first time in years, you can actually see constellations.
Has any of that happened yet? Of course not, but the point is it could happen. Not much happens when you’re sitting on the couch waiting for the oven to preheat. When you realize that evenings like the one I just described could be the alternative to frozen pizzas, you start to question things. Was all the money I spent to live in an expensive apartment in Austin and eat frozen pizzas alone worth it?
Earlier in life, sacrifices were more apparent, but easier to make. Friends came and went as they gained or lost interest in everything from Boy Scouts to baseball to debate club. The consequences of failure at any given endeavor weren’t as drastic, so frequently changing the topic of your full attention wasn’t a big deal. You still lived with your parents and lacked real responsibilities. You had your whole life ahead of you. You were meant to use that time to figure out what you liked or were good at.
What did I sacrifice?
I remember sacrificing time spent with friends or playing sports to go fishing at every single chance I got! And you know what? The sacrifice paid off. At the age of 21, I achieved my dream of becoming a fishing guide on the river my dad first took me to when I was 13 years old. I remember turning to our guide after he coached me into hooking my first trout on a dry fly and saying, “I wanna be just like you someday!”
Achieving that dream required quite a bit of sacrifice compared to what my friends did in college. I struggled with the feeling of missing out. While away for the summers, I missed out on trips to Europe, studying abroad, Cardinals games… you get the point. I never looked at being a river guide as some bum summer job, but others did.
I left the dream of being a fly fishing guide behind in favor of what promised to be a more prestigious career. Once I graduated law school, I noticed a distinct change in my perception of sacrifice. Or maybe the sacrifices just changed as they grew more familiar. Trading time for money.
Life became routine. Routines and habits can be great. But they become dangerous when we don’t consciously choose them and just fall into them. When we don’t set goals or acknowledge dreams and ensure that our routine is in alignment. That our daily actions serve to help us achieve those goals and dreams. I was making my car payment to drive to work to get the paycheck to pay the rent. To eat frozen pizza. Rinse and repeat. Without consciously acknowledging my dreams.
In fact, suppressing them because they weren’t in line with society’s definition of success. Metaphorically, I had run a marathon ten years before and wanted to run another. But I wasn’t competing in qualifying races. Hell, I hadn’t even started training.
So I spent a few years doing what my friends were doing, or at least what people expected me to do. At some point, the light bulb turned on. Sacrificing the security provided by a salaried position was daunting. But I have faith in my ability to provide for our little family and am confident that submerging myself into this dream will pay off in ways a law career never could. I am absolutely willing to sacrifice frozen pizza to keep my dream alive.
Sure, the stakes are higher now than they were when I was young. I found someone special and am unsure whether she will share my love for the river. Lucky for me, she’s willing to test the waters and doesn’t believe in one single measure of success.
Re-Discovery of a Dream
We believe there is no time like the present. Remember that fly fishing guide that helped me catch my first trout on a dry fly? Bill Danford was his name. I never got the chance to thank him for being such an inspiration to me. Bill passed away in a kayaking accident a few years before I made it back out to Idaho to guide. The only way I know how to thank him is to carry on the tradition and teach the next generation how to appreciate and respect the river.
So that’s my dream and another little part of my story. I am giddy writing this post because I am finally acknowledging my dream, or maybe re-discovering my dream. Re-discovery was one of the themes I set for myself this year. Even if that means making sacrifices as part of this experience. Both of us left high-paying jobs with great folks and great benefits. We are leaving friends and family behind. We sacrificed security to take a leap of faith and see what other talents might be lurking just below the surface.
We are starting to see the light though. My last day of work was April 25, 2018 and walking out of that office, a weight was lifted off my shoulders. We set and reached goals to financially prepare to pursue the thing that makes me come alive. And now we are actually doing it! Even if that means no more frozen pizza (for awhile).
Confession: I’ve already started researching propane ovens. And honestly, pizza rolls in a dutch oven are almost as satisfying!
What would you sacrifice to go after your dream? What limiting beliefs are holding you back? Or if you have achieved your dream, how did it feel once you stopped making excuses? Once you stopped waiting for permission and just went for it?