4. When Overwhelmed, Cache and DragDuring the Gold Rush days, on the famed Chilkoot Pass between Canada and Alaska, each traveler was required by the Mounties to drag one full ton of "adequate" food and supplies up the 32 miles that lead over the icy summits. Some of these travelers, by the way, were women wearing corsets and long, full skirts. And yet, they succeeded. How? By caching (read: storing) 950 pounds of their supplies by the side of the path, then dragging (read: dragging) a mere 50 pounds for a half a mile forward, then returning to the cache for another 50 pounds, and the process is repeated. When it all worked out, a person might walk 80 miles for every single mile they moved their provisions—which sounds discouraging. But in this way, they were able to move—literally—a mountain of food, pots, tools, water and everything else they needed to build a new life. I'm not suggesting that any of us pack up the contents of our house and drag them in 50-pound bundles through the streets. But sometimes, it can be helpful to put an idea or dream to the side for a while and then, in full defiance of our relentlessly go-forward-at-all-costs culture, to go backward and haul the crucial supplies necessary to make it come to fruition.
5. You Don't Have to Go to the Gym to Work OutAt home, I have a set of free weights, two yoga mats, an elliptical trainer, three yoga videos and a nifty package called OM Yoga in a Box. I haven't touched any of it in months. The workout that I do is pushing my 35-pound 4-year-old two miles each morning over to "Super Hero Camp" in the 90-degree heat. I exercise my arms and legs. I sweat off five pounds. The news that you don't have to go to the gym to work out should be a wonderful truth instead of a hideous one. You can run up the stairs to your office. You can pick up your husband and put him down over and over. Right now, you could be running in place while reading this article. Amazing! Wonderful! But think about it: You don't have to go to the gym to work out. That means you can work out anywhere and anytime—which means all those lovely lies about not being able to work off your stress and take care of yourself are now officially unutterable.
6. You Already Dreamed the DreamI'm not sure who is going to invent a machine that will inventory everything that goes through our brains, and until this is actually invented, this last truth may have to be reclassified as a hunch. But it does seem as if so many of us worry that we don't know the one crucial thing that we should be doing in life, the thing that will fulfill us more than any other. Even if we were given all the time and resources in the world, we still wouldn't know what to do.
This is ridiculous. From what I have seen in life, I don't think we need to go looking for some new "mystery" dream. The most important ones we've already had. Sure, at a very young age the idea of being a sea captain or ballet dancer occurred to us. But at an older, wiser age, we thought, "I should own a bookstore!" or "I love jam so much I should make it" or "Wouldn't it be fun to be a tour guide it Italy?" We just failed to tie our lives to it. We let it float off, where it eventually ran out of air, sank and got buried by a thousand other more practical or less scary or far less specific dreams.
It feels a little horrible to confront the truth that you knew what you wanted to do (even for .04 seconds) and didn't do it. Then again, understanding or maybe just believing that the dream exists and that we just have to root around for it—not invent it into being—does something amazing. It calms us down. It takes away all the side worries like, "Maybe I'm not creative enough to dream" or "Maybe I'm just one of those people who don't dream." Looking for it becomes like looking for a missing house key while still at home; there's no need to panic. You just have to find what's already there.
Leigh Newman is the deputy editor of Oprah.com and the author of Still Points North: One Alaskan Childhood, One Grown-Up World, One Long Journey Home.
More from Leigh Newman