Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius and power and magic in it. —Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
In today’s world, people are highly individualized, although people born in a particular country naturally share cultural similarities. For example, Americans—despite their differences—share many characteristics because they were born in the same country. They likely inherited American tendencies from family members, who tend to maintain a continuity of beliefs and views owing to their upbringing and education.
With so much family and group imprinting, why do some of us do things that are not associated with the region where we were born—things that seem removed from our experimental selves? In my own case, given that I was born in the United States, how does one explain my passion to travel to exotic locations, from Brazil to Mexico?
Such desires can put us at odds with our own culture. This way of thinking can interfere with the expectations of our families, teachers and friends. Some may never entertain such eccentric desires. A second group might entertain them—only to succumb to expectations and live out a “normal” life.
A third, smaller group, like Buck in Jack London’s The Call of the Wild, “buck” expectations and follow their primal instinct as they gather knowledge and pursue a life of unique possibilities.
As for those who hear but fail to heed the Call of the Wild, peer pressure is probably to blame. Peer pressure isn’t necessarily a bad thing; it’s one way communities keep continuity. Without peer pressure, or something like it, chaos would reign supreme. Nobody could agree on anything.
But peer pressure does have its downsides. At its worst, it’s a form of bullying. It also tends to limit our ability to think for ourselves. It detracts from our creativity, spontaneity and authenticity. And if it’s too successful, it sidetracks us from our individual calling.
“If a man does not keep pace with his companions,” wrote Thoreau, “perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.”
This quote by one of history’s most famous individuals should inspire those of us who hear the Call of the Wild to follow it at all costs. So how do we go about doing this?
First, identify your dream. Your dream for your life—even if it seems impossible from your current position—may be easier to achieve than you’ve been led to believe. A powerful dream can empower a lifetime of learning and changing. Write down your dream as a way of remembering it as time goes by.
Second, ignore the naysayers. A lot of people may not understand your dream, and some may insist it’s a chance in a million. Don’t let negativity get you down. People achieve their dreams every day. Imagine how many times the Wright Brothers heard flight was impossible—before they actually flew.
Third and finally, follow your dream. It’s exciting to identify your dream. And it’s important not to let others dissuade you from it. But it’s perhaps even more crucial not to sabotage your own dream.
This can mean taking chances. It can also mean ignoring not just external voices, but the doubter within. How many times have you had a great idea that you didn’t follow through on simply because you lacked confidence—only to regret it later?
Such ideas can be fleeting. They can easily drift by you because you didn’t seize the opportunity when you had the chance. It’s important to follow your instincts—even if those instincts may lead to unexpected outcomes.
Don’t just follow your dreams. Explore them thoroughly, seek insight from them, and learn about life from your experiences as you answer the Call.
This article (“How to Follow the Call of the Wild”) was originally published on Snooze 2 Awaken under an Attribution Noncommercial NoDerivs 3.0 Unported license with attribution to Cigano. It may be republished freely on a noncommercial basis without alteration with proper attribution, author bio including links, and this copyright statement.
Cigano is a middle schooler with an interest in writing and filmmaking. His pen name, which means “gypsy” in Portuguese, was given to him by his capoeira teacher. Capoeira, a Brazilian martial art, is an exotic mixture of dance, gymnastics and self-defense. View more of his work at http://cowbird.com/e991o6/stories.