The Most Precise Calibration

Sometimes, I know exactly what I want. Without a doubt. Without a hint of are you sure? This doesn’t happen often, but when it does, the feeling doesn’t waver or dissipate.

There are some people who don’t know how to handle that. Or, honestly, me. I’m not a game-player. I’m nothing if not entirely sincere. I am a unicorn in a world of horses. That’s not me touting myself as Made of Awesome. It’s me, explaining why I can be confusing. I’m just me, no frills. No fuss, no muss. I say what I mean, what I want, and when I care – that’s it. I care.

I am not a naturally brave person. I don’t know that anyone truly is. However, it is my feelings that make me brave. I think that most people are like that, where the heart is concerned. Someone who is a complete coward falls in love – and suddenly, he/she walks through fire without blinking. Our hearts make us who we are. It is not our pasts or our frailties. It’s not our doubts or our despairs. It is our hearts. That is the most reliable measure of a person, the most precise calibration.

I am not a perfect person. I believe that perfection is a myth. We’re flawed, afraid, and forgetful creatures. But I think that we often do a disservice to ourselves and our lives when we don’t jump in with both feet, when we don’t pursue something or someone because of complications or doubts. Granted, jumping in like that? It’s scary as hell. It’s looking down at a hungry lion in a pit and saying, “Well, I *think* I can outrun it. Maybe.” Deep breath, dive in.

Sometimes, that lion is just a figment of our imaginations. Other times, the lion is real. It is representative of problems, difficulties, change, and a thousand different things that often hold us back. Because yes, change is scary. Change can hurt. But you know what hurts more? Staying still. Staying in a place and a situation that is slowly killing you. Not doing anything to better yourself. Not following your heart. Staying put, running in circles, getting nowhere.

I’ve seen people stagnant in their lives, stewing in fake smiles and rationalizations. Look closely enough at a person, and it’s right there in their eyes. The slope of their shoulders. It’s in the shadow of that false smile. It breaks my heart every single time. That is no way to live. It is, to quote Thoreau, a life of quiet desperation. You and I? We deserve more than that.

Here’s the thing about me: I don’t give up. I don’t give in. And I’m the person who believes (with all the tenacity of an unflappable child) that she can do anything. By extension, I also believe that you can do anything. I believe in you. If that sounds cheesy, so be it. It’s the truth.

If you tell me I can’t do something, that it’s impossible, my response is always: watch me. To me, that’s a dare. It’s a challenge. It’s a limit I’m going to smash. I don’t believe in them. So, when someone says no, or it’s too hard, or it can’t happen, or I can’t – prove he/she wrong. Because to do anything less is to live in the shadows, to hide in the dark, to settle for the bleak satisfaction of a routine life. Life should never be routine. It should never be rote. The best things in life are the ones not easily obtained. Anyone who’s ever been in love can tell you that. And I’m telling you right now: stop stagnating.

Sometimes, I am completely frustrating by waiting. Sometimes, I am half-crazy with desire. Sometimes, I know exactly what I want – and I forget that not everyone does. I forget that not everyone knows how to handle that kind of decisive confidence. I forget to be patient, because I am already so sure.

If I were to advise you, here is what I’d say.

Think about what you want. Not what’s easy. Not what’s expected. Think about what you want. Think about happiness. Think about smiling. Think about where you want to go and be. Think about who is on your side. Think about what you need. Consider who might help you get what you’re going after. Do not let yourself settle. Do not give in to fears. Fall. Run. Jump. Do something. It is okay to be afraid. It is okay to worry. It is okay to admit these things. Everyone is scared, sometimes. Everyone has doubts. They don’t make you less. Whatever your passion is, go after it. Whatever will make you happy, seize it. Live and love to the fullest, because this is the only life you get.

In case you need to hear it again: I believe in you.

“The only calibration that counts is how much heart people invest, how much they ignore their fears of being hurt or caught out or humiliated. And the only thing people regret is that they didn’t live boldly enough, that they didn’t invest enough heart, didn’t love enough. Nothing else really counts at all.” —Ted Hughes, in a letter to his son, Nicholas

“I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the heart’s affections, and the truth of imagination.” ~John Keats

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  1. Michael Gillan Maxwell
    June 19, 2012 at 10:54 am

    ‘Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.’Oscar Wilde

  2. Jessica
    June 19, 2012 at 11:20 am

    GET OUT OF MY HEAD!!

    In all seriousness, you’re absolutely right. My newfound bravery has made me realize how cowardly most people are in their lives. They don’t live with any thirst or passion or… even liveliness, really. They just exist. Life is too fucking short to waste any of it just existing. Say what you feel, chase what you want, and live a life worth living. To bring Thoreau back into the conversation… Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined! I’m not saying we all have to spend every day jumping out of planes with signs that profess our undying love to our childhood sweethearts, but we need to do something. Know who you are, and what you want, and own that, because at the end of the day, it’s all you really have.

  3. June 19, 2012 at 11:29 am

    For a long time one of my signature block quotes, also from Thoreau:

    “In the long run, men hit only what they aim at. Therefore, though they should fail immediately, they had better aim high.”

    It took hold of me during my senior year of high school.

    That’s from memory, as one might expect after twenty years of it hanging around.

  4. June 19, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    Very inspirational and very much needed at present.

  5. June 19, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    Thank you.

  6. June 20, 2012 at 9:53 am

    Love.

  7. June 20, 2012 at 11:15 am

    Inspiring, we should all live by.

  8. Jessica
    June 20, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    I love all the Thoreau love happening in the comments…

  9. Anne Marie
    June 20, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    Ali,

    you always have to right words. Even the ones I’d rather not hear.
    I adore you, and your writing.

    HUGS, chica

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