dreams, decisions, commitment, personal growth

If Wishes Were Horses

If Wishes Were Horses

© 2006 Wellness Clubs of America.com

If wishes were horses, goes an old adage, beggars would ride. That is not to say that wishing is inherently wrong; it simply fails to produce any tangible results. The idea that when you wish upon a star your dreams come true may work well as a song lyric, but in reality it is a cruel hoax. The truth is that when you wish upon a star your dreams wither and ultimately die. In the real world wishes are not horses and beggars walk.

The lesson we should have learned and taught to our children is that dreams are not achieved by wishing; they are achieved through commitment. One of the best definitions of commitment I have ever heard is that it means continuing to work toward a goal long after the excitement of the moment is past.

I first saw the Grand Canyon in July 1985. I was awestruck and immediately fell in love with what is certainly one of the leading wonders of the natural world.

I have visited many attractions that were anticlimactic; places that could not live up to the glowing expectations I carried to them. Such was not the case with the Grand Canyon. It exceeded my anticipation at every turn.

I loved the smell of the campground, I was fascinated by the various geologic strata, I was enthralled by the canyon’s history, and I found that I could gaze at the immenseness of the canyon endlessly.

I was hooked. I wanted more. Viewing that incredible gulf from the rim was not enough. I wanted to see it from below, to touch it, to become a part of it, if only for a short time.

So it was that I decided that one day I would return and hike to the bottom.

In the spring of 1987 I announced to my family that I was going to hike the canyon that summer. Any or all of them were welcome to come with me. Rosalie was quick to point out that pets were not allowed on the trails. She would need to stay in the campground to watch our dog. A dirty job, she admitted, but somebody had to do it.

Amitia and Camille, then 14 and 12, decided to make the descent. After all, they reasoned, if their father could do it so could they.

Rosalie and I purchased hiking boots for them and explained the importance of breaking them in. I encouraged them to begin walking daily to get in shape for the trip. Each walked a grand total of 1 ½ miles in preparation for the trek.

We descended via the South Kaibab Trail, which drops a vertical mile over its seven-mile length. The constant pounding left us tired and sore by the time we reached Cottonwood Campground on the canyon floor.

Our ascent was by way of the Bright Angel Trail. Thirteen miles in length, the Bright Angel climbs at a milder incline than the South Kaibab. Six miles below the rim, however, both girls were wishing that the adventure was over.

Wishing, unfortunately, did not make it so. Three miles from the rim Camille hit a wall. The excitement that had preceded our journey was long past. She sat down beside the trail and announced that she could go no further.

An extended break did nothing to revive her energy or her spirit. She remained seated in the dust as other hikers passed by in route to the top.

Finally I did what any good father would have done in that situation. “Camille,” I said firmly, “you have two choices.”

“What are they?” she asked, a glimmer of hope in her voice, which suggested that she was imagining being evacuated by mule or helicopter.

“The first choice,” I replied, “is to get up and start taking little baby steps, resting as you go.”

“What’s the other?” she responded.

“You can sit here and die,” I said calmly.

Camille weighed her options carefully, then, without comment, got up and baby-stepped her way to the top. It was a defining moment in her life. Since that time she has been unstoppable. She knows that she can overcome any obstacle placed in her path, that she can achieve any goal by developing a workable plan and applying consistent effort.

If wishes were horses, beggars would ride. If wishes came true everyone would be healthy, wealthy and wise.

Tragically, many people live their lives in quiet desperation, wishing that things were different. Wishing they were thin; wishing they hadn’t started smoking; wishing they had more energy; wishing they felt better.

The wonderful secret is that you can achieve what you most desire in life. You will achieve your dreams when you stop wishing upon stars and decide to make a change in your life.

A decision backed by commitment, a will to continue long after the excitement of the moment has passed will make you unstoppable. It will make your greatest dream come true.

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