Making Peace With Your Unlived Dreams

I will never be a great snowboarder. For various genetic and non-genetic reasons, my knees are barely capable of surviving a three-hour hike, let alone the landing after a 1080.

In fact, I’ll probably never be a snowboarder at all, given my orthopedist told me to stay away from anything that’s heavy on the knees, “like tennis, skiing, or, say, snowboarding,” as long as 15 years ago. It sucks. I’d love to take snowboarding lessons. Alas, all I can do is watch videos of people doing sick stunts, living vicariously through GoPro’s Youtube channel.

When I first found out, for a good while, I was really upset about this. “How dare life take that from me!” I often imagined what would happen if I went big on snowboarding anyway. That there must be a way for me to fix my knees enough to succeed, and, to be fair, there probably is. But at some point, I realized that life is big but also short.

When asked “What’s one experience you hope we’ll share in the future?” ex-Bachelor star Sharleen Joynt tells her husband: “It’s hard. I want to do everything with you. There’s not enough time.”

You know what else I’d like to do besides becoming a great snowboarder? I want to learn kung fu. I’d also love to be a lot better at video games, get my Yu-Gi-Oh! hobby back on, and become at least fluent enough for everyday conversation in oh, I don’t know, eight more languages.

Meanwhile, back down on earth, I’m self-employed. I spend most of my time working, and when I don’t work, I try to be with my girlfriend, or family, or friends. It ebbs and flows, of course, but over the last few weeks, I’ve barely managed to make time to read, let alone pursue other, second-tier hobbies.

Even if I won the lottery tomorrow, however, I doubt there’d be enough time. There’s never enough time. If Death excused me for a few hundred years, I’d definitely take it.

And yet, somehow, the more years go by, the more rarely I watch snowboarding videos. My imagination runs wild less often, and when it does, it comes with smiles more so than bitterness. “It’s okay. Leave the snowboarding to others. You are a writer. You have things to do where you are, and that is enough.”

Use your imagination. Sometimes, dreams can just be dreams. They needn’t all come true to feel satisfying. Watch videos. Read books. Spend time with the heroes you’ll never meet. Whatever you do, don’t get angry at your unlived dreams. Extend a hand. Make peace.

We only get to sample a small taste of everything life has to offer, but in choosing deliberately, we are doing the most important job we were brought here to do.