gospel of a shadow pursuit
We have a tendency to settle. To deceive ourselves into “wanting” something we don’t really want. At working at something when we know we could be doing something so much more.
In Todd Henry’s book, Die Empty, he states, “they may even be succeeding in their career, but they are not actively seeking opportunities to do better and more unique work.”
My dream as a child was to work in the NBA. The dream didn’t die over time but became more and more alive (when it became not just about the NBA but about something more)… when it’s not just a dream but something you feel God has woven into the fabric of who you are.
After graduating college, I had no idea how to make that happen. How would I get to the NBA when I know, literally, 0 people who work there and while there are hundreds of thousands of others who are chasing the same dream.
So what did I do?
I applied for a job to help college athletes. And I started to work on a Master’s of Education so that I could teach high school and coach high school basketball (for the rest of my life).
Henry goes on to state, “this is a common dynamic among people who secretly long to be artists, but out of fear choose instead to pursue careers that are closely aligned with the arts but don’t require the same amount of risk or self-revelation.”
A year in to my job, I was dying. I knew I wasn’t doing the thing that was deep in my soul. So I went for it.
I took on-line classes is basketball scouting. I called people. I met with teams. I applied for job after job (receiving 18 rejections before a call back). I flew to Boston. I drove to Ohio.
I received a call from the Portland Trail Blazers (while living in Virginia). I accepted an unpaid internship on a Saturday and on Sunday, I packed up my life in a car and started driving across the country to work for free and sleep on someone’s couch. A year later, I accepted a position as a minimum wage intern.
Now 10 years in, I am living my dream, and wouldn’t change a thing about what it took to get here.
To paraphrase another line in Todd’s book, ‘Shadow pursuits offer short-term wins at the expense of long-term.’ “Sometimes these shadow pursuits become such close substitutes for the “real thing” that we can go for years before we realize that our entire life has been built upon the pursuit of something that didn’t really matter to us to begin with.”
It’s not easy to chase what you want in life. It’s also not easy to live knowing that you never chased it.