The Mystique of Distance
When I lived in California a few years ago, I walked over the Golden Gate Bridge one day. Standing in the high wind, I saw a sparkling Pacific Ocean join the sky in the hazy distance behind me.
Stationary cars high on the Marin Headlands gleamed in the sunlight to my left. In front of me, San Francisco, basking in whiteness, seemed to float on wave-like hills in the distance. The San Francisco Bay was calm. Alcatraz was in repose and I imagined that even the most violent ghosts got bored and left. It was all beautiful and serene.
When I reached the first tower on the bridge, I realized the tower needed a paint job. The international orange that makes the bridge instantly recognizable had streaks in the paint. There were also spots that the last painters missed.
It’s a bedrock irony of life that what looks beautiful from afar is often wreaking with imperfections when you get close to it. I call it the mystique of distance; a beauty that massages our imaginations into believing that when we obliterate the distance and stand eye to eye with something, it will be just as beautiful.
The reach of the mystique of distance goes far beyond physical objects like the Bay Area or the Golden Gate Bridge. It shapes the trajectories of our lives.
We dream about the things we want to be…in the distance we see the endpoint as the prize. I want to be a musician. I want to be a writer. We can plop on the couch and imagine how our lives would be once we’ve “made it.”
We see ourselves on stage with 60,000 screaming fans as we play our latest hit; we watch as our novel garners accolades and catapults to the top of the bestsellers list.
Our dreams are vivid. They all look beautiful from a distance, like the Golden Gate Bridge. But if we could pull our dreams out of the ethereal world from which they entice us, if we could look at them up close, we would see that the fabric of our dreams need the reinforcement of hard work, persistence, sacrifice and most of all, confidence in our abilities to strive for what we want.
But how many of us will get “in the trenches” and persevere through the inevitable obstacles we have to overcome to bring our dreams into the real world?
We want to get there, we say to ourselves…and someday we will get there, as if someday is a strategy. Someday I’ll be a musician. Someday I’ll be a writer.
The road to someday begins on the asphalt of today. You can start the journey now…or sit back and find comfort in the mystique of distance.