The Pursuit of Great

I randomly picked out the book Examined Lives by James Miller - because like most athletes, I think I'm on the path to becoming the next Socrates. (The irony of that statement is that Socrates was also one of the Brazilian soccer players I grew up idolizing - video clips here). Regardless of all the amazing coincidences that naturally occur during my writing, Miller talks about some of the greatest philosophers of all time and ends the chapter about Socrates with this bit of verbal gold:

"I know of no better aim of life than that of perishing, animae magnae prodigus, in pursuit of the great and the impossible." - Friedrich Nietzsche

From what I can gather, this means: using all of your strength and energy and life to follow your wildest dreams.

This intrigued the shit out of me. Mostly because there was a time when I had the wrong dreams. And it wasn't too long ago either.

Growing up I wanted to play professional soccer. Okay, so I did that, does that mean I'm done dreaming? Nah. It actually means I needed a change.  It's pretty amazing how your dreams change as you get older. It's more amazing when you realize what's important and what you really want out of life.

So now, at 29 years old, my dreams are much more in my control: to be the best person/player I can possibly be. Wow. That's actually attainable no matter what happens in my life. That is completely up to me.

The irony? That dream never stops being a dream. It's possible that it's never 100% fulfilled. It's possible that up until the very last breath I take, I'm always trying to achieve this.

When I step out on the field for training with the Portland Thorns, I take in a lot of things. Because I'm a philosopher, remember? I think about things more than I should. Like how if I remained the same person/player I was in 2005, I would never be here today. And if I had kept the same dreams throughout this process, I wouldn't be playing at all. I'm sure of that.

In 2007 I met someone that changed my life forever. I've written about him on this blog before, though for different reasons. His name is Mike LeGates and he's my mentor/trainer/friend. He's one of those rare gems that never gets the attention he deserves because he doesn't really even care about it. He does what he does because he loves it.

He taught me how to train and be a professional. He taught me that the game doesn't owe me anything... that if I don't play because I enjoy it, I'll walk away feeling empty after it's over. Without knowing it, he helped me shape my dreams into what they are today and in doing so, made me love life so much more.

The best part about my new dreams is that some cool things happen as a result of wanting to be the best I can be. Like playing for the Thorns. And being the editor of a women's soccer magazine. And traveling the world. And, oh yeah, meeting people who live their lives the same way.

I don't fault people for having dreams like being rich, or making the national team, or wanting to be the next Beyonce. We're told to have dreams like that from a young age. We are molded in a way that if we don't make it to that point, we didn't make it at all.  So it's a win or lose type of thing. And, wow, imagine how many people out there feel as if their life isn't good enough.

If I can impart one piece of advice to everyone, it's this (though I have given way more than that over time): it's never too late to change your dreams. It's never too late to become the best you can possibly be. It's never too late to work as hard as you possibly can. It's never too late to be the person you always  wanted to be.

"I know of no better aim of life than that of perishing, animae magnae prodigus, in pursuit of the great and the impossible." - Friedrich Nietzsche

The search for the best possible you might seem like an endless one. It might seem impossible. But we have to try. We have to give everything in the pursuit to find it.

"Get great or die trying" - Tiffany Weimer