The Adventure

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11,000 Sunrises and Counting…

Time is brief

I just wrapped up three decades on this big blue ball hurtling through space.  Crazy, I know.  Actually comprehending that sentence propelled me on an introspective journey that I’m going to share with you.  Here we go.

Looking back to consider where I thought I would be at this point in life, I realize how expectations, dreams, and priorities change over time.  I have gone from:

  • Having to be right to desiring to be influential.
  • Wanting to take over the world with ideas to desiring to change the world with words.
  • Being unattached to putting down roots… and loving it.

One day, I’m not sure when, the desire to truly help people instead of trying to change them was birthed in me.  I didn’t know that I was being selfish and imposing at the time, but it is easy to see in retrospect.  It was at that moment I realized that life wasn’t about me, but those around me.  Dreams changed.  Priorities changed.  Life qualitatively improved–for me, and for those I love.

I’m not going to lie, I still feel the pull of freedom and youth (no responsibilities) for fleeting moments… but that is tempered with gratefulness and enjoyment of each day.  I’ve come to learn that structure, which I initially rejected, allows an artist’s creativity to flourish more than total freedom–which can be paralyzing.  In the last ten years specifically, I’ve learned to define my boundaries and maximize creation for that space.  This is the soul of meaningful work.

Live in the Tension
There are also times when I’m trapped between who I am, who I want to be, and what the world wants or requires me to be.  This familiar tension surfaces subconsciously when I am feeling conformity or inability to change circumstance.  I think that all of us who have big dreams or live creatively feels this hard to describe, palpable pressure.  It comes in different forms, but has a singular message: Time is short, we need you now, get to work.  This urgency can be overwhelming.

But if we are defined by the choices we make, then I want to be authentically me.  That is how the world and I will change each other.

In this journey, I have discovered self-imposed limitations (are there any other kind?) that have stifled my growth.  Most are hangups from earlier in life that I thought resolved.  It turns out these failings like to creep back into life unannounced when I’m under stress or not living consciously.

  • The desire for acceptance – I always liked to belong, it feels good.  Until it’s made me something I’m not.
  • To be liked – On days where I didn’t necessarily like myself, it was easy to determine my self-worth by what others thought of me.  This can be addicting, and miserable.
  • To prove people wrong – The “I am smarter than you and I’m going to show you in order to feel good” disease.
  • To not make waves – I know, contradictory to proving people wrong, but for those I really care about I would put keeping the peace about what I knew was right.  Their feelings would be more important to me than delivering hard truth.

At one point, all these have kept me from worthwhile pursuits.  I have learned from it all, and being mindful of my purpose and remaining grateful seems to be the solution.  However, I would like to avoid becoming an uncompromising, cantankerous old man who holds contempt for everything he doesn’t support.  So here is what I’ve concluded.

  • Be yourself, and let others see Christ in you through your actions.
  • Live for ideals, but do so with love, forgiveness, and grace.
  • Be uncompromisingly honest, but deliver it with the sincerest of intentions.
  • Be friendly, but you don’t have to be everyones friend.
  • Brighten people’s day, but do not let them dictate your happiness, or self-worth.

Maybe lessons from my odyssey can teach you something.  If so, please share this post.  It’s more likely that I can learn from your journey, and I invite you to leave your story or lessons in the comments.  Thank you.

About Cole Bradburn

I'm a writer and doctor in lifelong pursuit of health, happiness, and adventure. I currently live in Raleigh, NC with the love of my life and our amazing boys.

  • Cole, I love this post. I’d love to see a series of these posts where you dive more deeply into the major points you made. Glad you’re writing.


    • Thanks Nathan, and that is a great idea.  Appreciate your feedback.

  • This just caught my eye on LinkedIn. Love this too, natural talent for writing. 
    Three decades ouch:). ‘Light bulb’ went off over my head about 3 years ago of what my purpose was and I finally feel content. Of course life is funny, we get tested over and over again and tension (great word-I’ll replace word anxiety with it:) pops up now and then but you collect yourself when you fall apart,  take a deep breath and thank God for everything you have… DAILY… and all the little things people don’t think about. Ok, can’t lie, I’m still working on the #1 and 1a. I think being mindful, grateful and treating people how you want to be treated you will do just fine. I don’t worry about you a bit…or your journey! Sounds like you have a great support system down below my post. 
    Thank you for this short break midst of ‘craziness’ of motherhood. I felt at peace after I read it (brother from another mother:)
    Love as always. T

  • Oh, by the way, you’ll get smarter when you outsmart the 3 yr old, 5th grader and so on. I am so smart…my kids have no clue how I know everything they don’t want me to know;) You’ll be a great dad. Already are. 

    • Thanks Tatjana!  I always love to hear from you, and you are a super smart lady.  Isn’t it weird how it can take us so long to find our purpose?  The journey must be important.  

      Wish we could spend some time with you and Sophie, can’t wait to see you all again.

  • I am almost 40 and I find that I still struggle with these limitations but thanks be to God His strength is made perfect in weakness (limitations). Thanks for your heartfelt insights! You have wisdom beyond your years. Blessings to you on your journey.

    • Thank you, I do too.   We are all always a work in progress, being transformed by the renewal of our minds daily.  Why then can it be so hard to let go of our human mind and live boldly and confidently in Him?  It makes me think of this passage:  He must increase, but I must decrease – John 3:30 KJV.  

  • Be friendly, but you don’t have to be everyones friend.” As a life-long people-pleaser, this realization was one of the most liberating realizations ever. A daily struggle for sure, but it definitely frees us to be ambassadors for Christ’s love without compromising for the sake of approval/acceptance.

    • Well said Todd.  It is quite hard along the lines of acceptance to be in this world, but not of this world, it’s so easy to desire acceptance or self-worth from others when we are told to look to God.  

      Thanks for leaving your thoughts!