If you always felt you were born to do something big, something really, really big -- something so big that your existence would end up shifting human history and leaving a dent in the fabric of time -- what would you do?
Would you think about what your best career options were, what things you were good at, and go from there?
Would you stress out over money or financial concerns or hunker down and save your money?
Would you focus on doing things that made you comfortable or ensured that people would like you?
Would you limit your focus to things that you could achieve this lifetime?
Would you be realistic?
Or would you think about the biggest, most crazy thing you could imagine? Something that seemed so unlikely for a single human being to achieve but that, when you thought about it or talked about it, filled you with spine-tingling, eye-watering, goosebump-making surges of energy that seemed to emanate from some unknown source deep inside?
That thing that despite being so unrealistic and crazy lingered on your mind, hour after hour, day after day, week after week.
If you ever asked me in person to share my biggest dream, I'd probably tell you that I would like to reach the end of my life and see humanity more connected and forward-looking, to have an end to poverty, hunger, and inequality at least somewhere in sight, and to know that my actions played at least a small role in making that movement happen.
But if you asked me again, what's my biggest, craziest, most wild dream, I'd likely change my answer.
I'd tell you that I'd like to see humanity not only more connected and in tune with nature, but also exploring and stretching off planet Earth. I'd want to stand on planet Mars before I die and feel that humanity as a whole finally recognizes its precious potential.
I'd like to witness the beginnings of humanity-level cooperation taking place, pushing the human species forward together to eliminate silly things like poverty, hunger, and inequality so that we, as a species, can move on to bigger and more important things like exploring the universe, not just the universe around us, but also within us.
This is Star Trek type stuff, yes, but if you really asked me what my biggest, craziest dream was, that's what I'd honestly tell you. I'd like to know that I played a part in moving the human race forward, towards something that my intuition tells me we'll eventually arrive at anyway.
But you'd never guess any of that reading my writing or even communicating with me online. In fact, very few of my actions in life really reflect that level of thinking.
Because I gave up on that dream long ago. It was too unrealistic, too "out there". If I was going to use my potential for something great, why would I throw it at something so preposterous?
Following that thinking was always a series of justifications, a train of logical reasoning to back up the impossibility of that thinking:
"I'd need to become heavily involved in entrepreneurship and business and investing and money... I just don't like any of those enough to do something big with them."
"I'd probably need an engineering degree and that would be too much of a time commitment... I'm too old and my time is running out fast."
"If I failed to achieve my dream, I will have wasted my time and energy."
"If I fail, all my potential, my whole life, will have been for nothing."
"Nobody else is doing this kind of stuff -- or even attempting it -- so it must be unachievable and silly to even consider."
I've gone through this process more times than I can count -- throughout my whole life -- often justifying the process itself by telling myself that some dreams really are just too big, but that it's healthy to think about them anyway.
However something changed in the past year. Before I returned home from India last year, I won a chance to see one of the last Space Shuttle launches in Florida.
That experience led me to connect with a whole new circle of friends who were passionate about space and who lived with those futuristic dreams on their minds every single day.
Those events led to my learning about Elon Musk, the founder of PayPal who, with a real passion not focused on being entrepreneurial and making money but for making humanity a multi-planetary species, went on to found SpaceX, now the leading private space company in the world.
Yes! That's exactly what I should be doing! But (and here's where the fear and self-doubt steps in)...
"That's just not me..."
"Space exploration is so disconnected from the immediate humanitarian needs here on Earth that I really care about..."
"I can't possibly focus on addressing world poverty if I'm focused on getting people into space..."
"Elon Musk was rich and had tons of money to start with... I'd be starting with nothing and that would make it impossible..."
But Elon is moving the human race forward.
He's chasing his seemingly impossible dream because that's what he believes he should be doing. He's running his business the way he believes it should be run, telling employees and investors face-to-face that he and his business are not in it for the money but for the legacy of humanity.
In the past year I've connected with so many people who are fascinated with space and I've learned about people like Elon who are taking their dreams and pushing them forward.
All of this has rekindled within me the "impossible" dreams that I've held inside for so long. It's made me reconsider them and start asking myself questions about what I'm doing and why I'm here on Earth.
Why can't I become someone who builds businesses that determine their success not based on monetary profit but rather on the welfare of the human species as a whole?
A space company that addresses humanitarian needs? Why not? So what if nobody else has done it or if nobody thinks it would work.
Steve Jobs said, "stay hungry, stay foolish". Perhaps to really stay hungry we need to chase dreams that are unrealistic and seemingly impossible; perhaps to stay foolish we need to believe in dreams that seem a little crazy but that call to us, like a whisper from the future, asking us to do the impossible.