“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

— Wayne Gretzky

I’ve been meaning to join the Procrastinators’ Society, but I keep putting it off.  That’s all right, though, because I heard that their meeting last week has been postponed until December.  Maybe this means that I will manage to make it through another summer without having that big Yard Sale I keep promising will clear out the unused items from the crawl space and the basement.

How many things are there in your own life that you tell yourself you will do and then find reasons not to follow through?  What are the things that hold you back?  Do you fear failure?  Do you fear success and the changes it might bring to your predictable routine?

When The Bucket List hit movie theaters several years ago, it caught my attention in ways beyond wanting to be entertained.  The concept was that a man (Jack Nicholson) who was dying of cancer had made a list of all the things he had put off doing during his life, and now he intended to do them all before he kicked the bucket.

I would never mean to imply that we should wholeheartedly pursue every idea that passes through our minds.  I am sure that we would all need our bucket list much sooner if we lived life at such a pace.  Still, there are things that live deep within each person that rattle at the door from time to time, begging to be liberated and shared with the world — things we keep locked away and avoid dealing with as we fill our lives with distractions.  I should say a word or two here about the idea that we may not follow the dream that is hidden, but we do spend our time on other pursuits that bring good things to the world.  There is no denying that this is true; and the pursuit of our hidden dream might consume the time we have used on other activities.

Often, I think, we spend our precious time doing the things that allow us to fit in with others — to receive their attention and recognition.  There is nothing wrong with wanting to be a part of a mutual goal or activity.  What worries me is that I believe that the things we hide away and push back from the door are those that make us unique.  Two years ago — maybe after I watched The Bucket List — I decided to pull together the files and folders I had accumulated over years of writing.  I wanted to own up to my family and friends that I had been writing poetry and finally to take the risk of sharing my deepest thoughts and feelings with the people I loved.  It occurred to me that the alternative would be to have my children find these pieces of me after I died, and I could no longer bear to think of them saying, “Hey, I didn’t know Mom wrote poetry, did you?”

I self-published some of my poems and made sure that each of my kids had a copy of the book.  They will not have to search the folders in my desk or on my computer to know who their Mom really was when she wasn’t cooking dinner or cheering their successes.  I will not tell you that it is easy to take the step that liberates your deepest and most precious dreams into a place where others can see them.  I will tell you that I don’t miss the rattling at the door of my soul; and I will also tell you that once the door has been unlocked, it is easier to access that place again and again.

The mark I leave on my world will be different now that I have taken the risk.  Fear of failure or judgment or even success should not prevent any of us from letting our unique and beautiful dreams be the mark we leave behind.  There is no need to worry about success or failure.  After all, you really do miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.