We all itch to do something great or memorable. We want to do something remarkable with our whisper of a time here on earth, and we want to make sure that we're not wasting our time when we could be better served by chasing a great big dream that makes us completely happy. But some of us never scratch that itch. We let it fester, annoy, and nudge us. Many of us ignore it, thinking that soon it will go away. Meanwhile, some people dare to scratch it. They try new things and start companies. They take a flying leap off the cliff of their dreams and scratch and scratch until they figure out how to fly on the way down. And when they do, they soar to a place where all of us would die to end up.
And that is the great dividing line between those who do and those of us who only dream: scratching.
Entrepreneurs are those who merely dared to scratch. So are rabble rousers, march leaders, movement builders, and change agents. Artists, writers, dreamers, activists, and nearly everyone you've ever admired have one thing in common: they scratch like hell when they get the itch to do something extraordinary.
I see it in my daughter. There is this great curiosity and determination in her 16-month-old eyes. If she sees something she wants, notices something new in the kitchen, or picks up something she's never held, she probes it. She examines and coddles it. It may be hot or freezing, heavy or unwieldy, filthy or pristine - it doesn't matter. The itch to touch and learn and discover is so great she can only stick her head in an Easter basket to see what it's like to be enshrouded in darkeness with tiny pieces of light shining through the wicker, catching her eye just slightly so that she can make sense of where she is: noggin in a basket on the floor at Granny Lu's on Easter Sunday. She's never tried that before. But she wanted to. Easter baskets are made for eggs? Hardly. Right now, they're made for little girls to put on their head and play peek-a-boo.
At some point, we're cautioned against the scratching. Others tell us it's too risky. That scratching is the mindless pursuit of those who don't want to take on appropriate adult-level responsibility or priorities. How could we want to scratch that singular itch - that "small" irritation - when 99% of everything else is blemish-free and in line with the status quo? More times than we should, we listen to those voices. The chorus of those-who-have-never-scratched drowns out the constant nag of discomfort in our brain and instead of scratching until we're satisfied, we plod along, making do with the rock in one shoe and the twisted sock in the other, confusing any movement with real progress. Who among us doesn't want to run unabated towards our dreams without the proverbial limp caused by ignoring our passions?
Today, if you want to do something great, if you want to do something that truly satisfies and inspires, if you want to do something that matters, then start scratching. You may get what you need in the blink of an eye; a quick flick of the wrist may be all it takes to satisfy a deep longing. Or, you may be in for the rub of your life, scratching for years at an itch of a dream until your fingernails are nubs and your skin bleeds. Our dreams can have that kind of hold and power over us.
But if you've ever dared to scratch you know there is no way to go back to the point in time where you could live with the nuisance of the itch. You weren't meant to.
You were born to scratch.