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On real life, middles, and Goethe

May 11, 2010

On Saturday at Baccalaureate – before the keys-locked-in-the-car escapade – I was thinking about this year’s graduating class and the post-collegiate world in front of them, the world I am still very much in the midst of figuring out. If I’ve learned anything from the people and experiences I’ve encountered since graduation it’s that it is so easy to put our dreams on hold, just for now, and get swept up in the world of getting-by until we are in a better position to  pursue our dreams. Donald Miller says it best in A Million Miles in a Thousand Years when he talks about getting stuck in the middle of a journey:

“I think this is when most people give up on their stories. They come out of college wanting to change the world, wanting to get married, wanting to have kids and change the way people buy office supplies. But they get into the middle and discover it was harder than they thought. They can’t see the distant shores anymore, and they wonder if their paddling is moving them forward. None of the trees behind them are getting smaller and none of the trees ahead of them are getting bigger. They take it out on their spouses, and they go looking for an easier story.”

I’ve met so many people over the past two years who are in a perpetual middle who never intended to be there. People who started out as everyone does, just trying to get a job and make ends meet, but then days turned into months turned into years and the ambitions of the past and opportunities of the future faded away into a day-to-day middle. Call me naive, but before my foray into “real life” I honestly had no idea that the working world was filled with so many unfulfilled workers! Not to over-spiritualize this matter, but I feel like sometimes the achievable dreams God has placed in our hearts are stolen by our unwanted but seemingly necessary here-and-now situations. The dreary known is safer than the better/worse/similar unknown.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe has been on my mind as I’ve been thinking over all of these thoughts. Don’t consider me more intellectual than I am; Goethe is not usually hanging out in my head and he’s rarely my go-to guy for advice, but one quote of his has been ringing in my ears for days:

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.

How encouraging is that? Sometimes for me it’s the simple, common sense encouragement that gives me just the kick-start I needed. So, that’s what I’m trying to do: begin. With this blog, with these pictures, with the beautiful life God has given me in general. It’s easier said than done, but it’s infinitely better than being stuck in the middle.

Comment it up below, peeps: What can you do, or dream you can? What do you want to begin?

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Ashley permalink
    June 13, 2010 12:27 pm


    This post really meant a ton to me. My post-graduation life (even though its only been a month) has not been what I expected. I never wanted to move back in with my parents, I never wanted to get a regular boring job (which I am still working on finding), and I really wanted to stay in Rochester (now I’m in Florida- long story). I know it’s not the end of the world because I do have some exciting things coming up in my life very shortly (teaching English in Osaka!) but all of those world changing dreams and ideas I had before graduation seem so unrealistic and impossible now. I don’t know what happened that morning on May 8th but it felt like a veil was lifted from my eyes and everything appears so much more complicated than I once thought.

    Anyway, I figured I would share one of my dreams (even though it seems impossible now) with you because you asked so nicely! After my study abroad experience last Fall, I have been dreaming to go back to Latin America and perfect my Spanish so that I can learn more of the stories and the struggles of the people of Latin America. I would want to share their stories and the facts of their lives with people in the United States, hopefully with a small group of followers we could challenge big businesses to play fair. Also, to challenge Latin American government to stand up to big American businesses and defend the rights of their people. I know this has been done before and I know little has changed but I think this needs to be revived. People know but don’t care enough. I want to make there care enough to change their own lives– enough to change our culture. I want to live in solidarity with them, I don’t want to forget the passion that I had when I came back from my semester abroad.

    Anyway, in my own life I would like to live sustainably and consciously. I want to have my own garden, I want to buy locally, and I want to “eat less and mostly green.” I want to make a conscious effort to break myself of the “culture of stuff” (great blog on this: ) thinking I need new things often and I want to get by with as little as I care. I would rather invest my time (and money) into friendships and relationships. I want to travel light through life with great companions. That’s my dream, I guess. Well, that’s one of many others.

    Well, thanks for your encouraging post! I found your blog the other day and I will be a regular now. I never told you that the letter you gave Andrea to give to me while I was in Costa Rica really meant a ton to me and encouraged me. So, thank you!

    See you again, someday! I love you and I miss your smiling face!

    -Ashley C.

    • June 14, 2010 10:42 am

      Ashley, I’m so glad you stopped by! And so glad you commented!!! A) because it’s awesome to hear how you are doing and how your post-grad life is coming along so far, and B) because you made me go back and read this post…and it was perfect timing for me to re-read my own advice! :) Thanks for sharing your hopes and dreams and goals for the future – don’t let them go! I am 1000% confident that you are going to live a wonderful, beautiful life. And I LOVE your Latin America idea! If you go, I’d love to come and take some pictures :)

      If you haven’t read it already, I think you’d really enjoy A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller. And Serve God, Save the Plant by Dr. Matthew Sleeth. And Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore. Apparently I’m giving you an entire summer reading list, but really, I think you’d love all of them!

      Hope you are having a great time in Florida, and hope you keep pursuing the dreams God has given you – both the big picture ones and the little everyday ones too. Keep in touch, girl! Love you and miss you around here!


  1. day 11: humbled. « my green orchard

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