What’s your dream?

Today Laura Dekker, a 16-year-old Dutch girl, arrived in the harbor of the Caribbean island of St. Maarten. Unremarkable perhaps, except for the fact that she just finished sailing around the world, the youngest recorded person to do so–alone.

This is a venture that cost legendary explorer Magellan his life. Dekker battled the Dutch authorities who forbade her journey, she faced down her own self-doubt aboard her 38′ “Guppy,”  and en route she encountered all manner of harrowing maritime tribulations.

But she circumnavigated the globe. Why? In her words, “It’s a dream, and I wanted to do it.” As we ponder the big questions in life it’s easy to forget that sometimes there’s just a simple answer.

Gas station wisdom

It was day 6 of the power outage and a line of tired people waited to get their battered fuel cans filled to feed the never-ending demand of their home generators.

The gas station attendant—a fast-moving fella with the name “Frank” stitched on his work shirt—methodically grabbed the next red can and stuck a nozzle in it.  

“So are you sick of filling these cans, yet?” A guy asked him. 

“Me? I’m not sick of anything,” Frank replied. “I’m glad I’m working.”

Who do you blame?

 “If we fail, it would be only our fault,” said an engineer in Tripoli quoted by Reuters. “Before we blamed everything on Gaddafi, it was easy. Now we can only blame ourselves.”

 When someone else is calling the shots there is an element of freedom in the repression.  Freedom to blame someone else for your troubles. And the more iron-fisted the control is, the more excuses you have for your own predicament—the more it’s someone else’s fault. It’s even more convenient if that someone is on posters, TV, or represented by statues. The name for your pain becomes ubiquitous.

 Not everyone in the world can blame a dictator or monarch for their misfortune or lack of success, though. But many have a radio show host or political figure-du jour that fits the bill. And others choose to fill this role with vengeful bosses, overbearing spouses, or controlling parents or in-laws. Not to mention the looming specter of corporations, government, or religion. There’s no shortage of people or organizations to lay blame, and we can usually find like-minded confidants to share in our woe.

That’s because complaining is easy. it’s not easy to take stock of ourselves and take the action necessary to remedy the shortcomings that hold us back. It’s not easy to topple those statues we love to point our fingers at. But it’s something that everyone can do if they choose. As Teddy Roosevelt said, “If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.”

So declare your own little revolution, throw some ropes around whatever it is you’ve been blaming, and topple it once and for all.

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