The beautiful illusion

Today I gave away something that was very valuable to me. I gave away an illusion.

It was an idea sprung from a long conversation with a friend Nick about community. It was one of those conversations that leave you both exhausted and frenetic at the end.

Both of us are members of a men’s group of some 70 men. In those 70 men you can find all the skills, experience, muscle power, wisdom and camaraderie to power through any obstacle in your life. We are just 70, but we are powerful together.

What would happen if we used the internet to help other people develop communities like ours? It was a beautiful idea. In the middle of the night, the name came to me. I got out of bed and registered the website.

I have been cherishing this illusion for some nine months. It was something I really wanted to do. It would make the world a much better place and my place in it would be a much better one as a result. I could see a transformed me on the other end of this illusion too; someone who had made something both useful and beautiful come true. I was really inspired by the illusion.

Only problem is, I’m already working on something that inspires me and I can’t be two people at once. I was now in a dangerous position. Illusions have a way of going rotten if you store them away too long. In the beginning it was a beautiful vision of something I would do — but before long it was a nagging reminder of what I wasn’t doing. Still, I held onto it because accepting that I would never get around to it was painful.

Then a woman from Los Angeles called me to request the name for a non-profit organization she was creating to help cancer patients like herself. We had our own long conversation. The name was perfect for what she wanted to do. (It is, after all, a very good name.) We hit it off. Still, I was reluctant to let go.

Then I woke this morning with the realization that the best thing I could do was to let go of my dream and, by doing so, become a part of hers. The 15 “Thank yous” that began her e-mail were all I needed to know that I had made the right choice.

Now I see that the most valuable thing about that illusion was giving it away to someone else who could use it better than I.

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