How to Handle Reality When You're a Visionary at Heart
Most of you reading this have started something at some point in your life. Perhaps it was a lemonade stand, a newsletter about bugs in your backyard (thanks for subscribing Mom, Dad, and grandparents!), a school club, a team, a new job, college, a relationship, a business, a graduate degree, a marriage, a family, or a nonprofit. My point is that no matter who you are, you've had goals with personal meaning. You've looked at a choice laid out before you and said, "this is worth doing, so here goes nothing."
Blueprint Earth is definitely a goal of mine. It just happens to be a large, unwieldy, expensive, and extremely important one. If you look at what BE is actually trying to accomplish, it's a bit staggering. We want to catalog as many of the Earth's environments as possible in great detail. That alone requires a massive amount of manpower (or womanpower...thanks to my alma mater, Smith College, for that one). We sent 20 researchers into the field in March and April for 2 weeks, and we completed about 2% of the geologic and biologic observations in our area, and 14% of the hydrologic and atmospheric observations. Do you even know how many rocks that is, people? I say that tongue-in-cheek, because we're not actually inventorying every pebble, but we are getting a very hands-on, intricate look at the delicate circulation of life in the Mojave.
That's a fantastic experience, and our student researchers are already better equipped to enter the world of science and engineering after they work with us. It's also only the first step in our process. After the cataloging, we still need to interpret our findings and then replicate the environment. You guys. We are going to replicate a desert in a human-created setting. That is absolutely mind-boggling! Talk about taking your Lego set to the next level.
Of course, now that we've mentally soared off to those lofty heights, we have to give reality its turn in the spotlight. Do any of you work for the government? Have any of you been to the DMV, done your taxes, completed a FAFSA, or gotten a marriage license? Bureaucracy is no joke, and those are things that people do literally every day. Now, imagine trying to get the person who helps you at the DMV to give you the proper permits to blueprint the planet. Welcome to the reality of Blueprint Earth!
I'm fairly sure that any new organization that is attempting a truly visionary or entrepreneurial feat deals with the same type of frustrations that Blueprint Earth does. It's just really difficult to keep reaching for the stars (literal or figurative) when you're being hamstrung by San Bernardino County's Special Kitchen Permit system. So what to do about the lovely doses of reality when they show their aggravating little faces?
Keep going. Yep, that's the big secret: there is no secret. You will figure out a way to feed your researchers, or raise those funds, or finish that essay, or propose to your girlfriend. You will manage to assemble that damned IKEA Fjörnbjörgen, your lemonade stand will be a success (even if only mom and dad buy your lemonade...hey, you got customers!). And you know what? Even if you don't get everything you want, the sweat equity you put into your goal will pay off in ways you might never have anticipated. New friends, new career opportunities, a chance to help someone out, a reminder to stay humble. The real lesson is that you should never, ever give up. Find a way around, if not through. Change your goal if you have to. Just keep moving. Keep pushing. Keep dreaming.
And then every so often, you'll get awesome news that will buoy you through the most frustrating of frustrations. Example:
Students at California State University - Fullerton can now work with Blueprint Earth for course credit! The CSUF Center for Internships & Community Engagement (CICE) has approved Blueprint Earth as a placement organization for academic internships. How awesome is that? CSUF students can find details about how to register here.
I'm grinning as I type this, because it wasn't that long ago when I was a student who would've loved an opportunity like this one. Maybe my day will be filled with more bureaucratic calisthenics, but when all is said and done, taking my goal of Blueprint Earth from vision to reality is going to help other people achieve their dreams. So just keep going, ok?