The undying dream of Daniel Bryan
What does it mean to dream?
To desire to achieve something so much it consumes you? It overpowers you, to the point where chasing that dream becomes your mistress. You get high off the thrill of the pursuit. You fight, scratch, run through hellfire to make that dream a reality.
And then you accomplish it, and it's everything you ever imagined it to be. All the years of hard work are vindicated. A lifelong dream fulfilled.
But then, in a blink of an eye, that dream is gone.
That dream that once consumed you, now fills you with pain. That euphoric drug that lifted you to new heights has finally broken you down - mentally and physically - and you're forced to leave it behind.
For two years, Bryan Danielson had lost that dream. Up until that point, his adult life was defined by his dream of being a professional wrestler. He busted his ass for nearly two decades - from being Shawn Michaels and William Regal's apprentice, to indie darling, to 'B-plus player', to WWE Champion - putting his body through an incredible amount of disarray throughout the journey. And he didn't need a gimmick to get over; his dedication and unwavering love for performing made him more endearing to fans than any gimmick could.
Then that dream he so coveted since the third grade was over, stripped away by countless injuries - neck problems, multiple concussions and post-concussion seizures, some were known, others he hid from his employer. In WWE's defense (and Daniel later thanked them for looking out for the person before the wrestler), so many men and women before him have worked themselves into long-term health problems - and in a lot of cases, death - because no one told them to take it easy. It's completely understandable to look at Daniel Bryan's history of known, and unknown injuries, and pull the reigns back from Daniel before he destroyed himself completely.
So for two years, despite multiple outside doctors clearing him to compete, Daniel Bryan sat at home, depressed and no longer able to live out his dream. The Federation came calling months later to bring him back as an on-air authority figure on Smackdown, but being around WWE yet not being able to compete brought him unimaginable pain. Through it all, Bryan vowed to be grateful.
When gratitude was not enough for Daniel Bryan, family was, and it was family that kept Daniel fighting for his dream. His wife, Brie Bella, was there to encourage him to fight, and to see specialists to get himself cleared to return. It wasn't easy; there were times when Daniel was ready to give up that fight, but at every turn there was Brie, urging him to fight for his dream, until that depression and anger turned into fuel.
He asked WWE for one more look at his case, and so he traveled the country, seeing the best neurologists in the nation. One by one, they all told him the same thing.
When WWE broke the news Tuesday that Daniel Bryan was cleared to return to in-ring action, the announcement sent shockwaves throughout the universe. What seemed impossible was finally real. Daniel's dream was alive and well.
Daniel will return to in-ring action, likely in the same venue as his greatest achievement: the Louisiana Superdome, where he won the WWE Championship in the main event of Wrestlemania four years ago. When Ride of the Valkyries starts playing and Bryan makes his long dance to the ring to a sea of 75,000 fans pointing towards the sky and screaming "YES!" in exaltation, it will be a cathartic moment not just for Daniel and those in attendance, but for wrestling fans worldwide, and anyone who has dared to dream.
The story of Bryan Danielson is more than just wrestling. It's a tale of perseverance, in the ring and in life. It's about the undying love of a woman who is so supportive of you, she is able to lift you up when you are damn near broken, and tells you to keep fighting. It's about a light that won't go out, and a dream that refuses to die.
Because if you fight for your dreams, your dreams will fight for you.