Dream On…Dream Until Your Dreams Come True

“We had so many dreams as children. Where do they go when we grow? Are they swallowed up by the mundane things of everyday life? Or do we lose them, leave them behind us in the dust?” – Helen Hollick, The Kingmaking 

I was recommended a book to read called “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch.  In a previous post I mentioned how this book gets you to think of road blocks, or brick walls in a different way.  Rather than stopping you from achieving your goals, it helps to show you just how badly you want them.  What I didn’t mention is what this book really is about.  It’s about achieving your childhood dreams, no matter how ‘out there’ they may be.

I do have to admit that at one point while reading this book I was becoming somewhat discouraged and a bit depressed.  I was really down in the dumps, thinking, “Wow, this guy really has done a lot of what he dreamed of as a child. I haven’t done anything! What a boring life I have lived so far.”

I began to think back to all the things I dreamed of doing when I was a child, and decided to list them all of the ones I could remember.

And boy was I in for a real surprise!  Some of the items on my list have already materialized, and others were in the process of coming to life, and the rest – well, they are something to work towards.

I’ve always wanted to travel the world, and have been sad that I haven’t been able to.  When I started listing off all the countries that I have been to, and some of them more than once, I count up to nine.  Wow, not bad.  My sub goal to this one is to make a similar piece of artworks which lists all the places I want to go, in addition to these (which some I’ve already been to!).

And yes, I did drive a race car.  I realised this dream a couple of years ago during a team-building exercise with my old place of employment.  This was one of the most exciting days of my life!

Playing in a band? Well, this is one of the dreams currently in action.  I’ve decided that I’m going to get up and sing during one of the jazz meet-up nights.  I’m thinking of singing Hallelujah, but I’m not 100% sure.  I can’t believe I’m going to put myself out there, but hey, what do I have to lose?  It’s something to cross off my list!

As some of you know, I’m in the process of planning for my own business, and I’ve been married (and separated), and I have a gorgeous daughter.  I’ll be contributing to medical research in a few weeks.  I’ve owned my home with my ex, and will have my own in the future once this one sells.

Live in a different country?  Well, not sure how that is going to happen right now, but it’s something to strive towards, along with publishing my writing (well, I do have this blog which I’m sharing with the entire world.  That counts, doesn’t it?).  And I’d love to help people in some way.  Not sure how I’m going to go about this.  I’m hoping that my writing can do this in some small way, as well as ‘contributing to medical research.’  I feel it has to be more direct, more in person.  This is something I need to work towards as well.

And Disney…who doesn’t want to go to Disney and meet Mickey Mouse?!  Did that!

Needless to say I was excited to be able to put check marks next to some of the items on the list. And the possibility of having these other dreams come true is making life so interesting and exciting.  To think, that subconsciously I’ve been working towards making these dreams a reality is simply mind-blowing!  What could have happened if I actually did try to make them come true?

I know that some of these dreams are not very big, and some may think they are ‘childish.’  I really don’t care.  These are MY shiny dreams.  I’m taken aback at how even though I hadn’t thought of my dreams for a very long time, they never died.  They lay there dormant for a very long time, but they didn’t go away.  It’s like as if they were still working away materializing on their own, slowly out of sight.

But now what?  Most of my dreams have been accomplished, and some are on their way.  What happens next?  I was chatting with someone the other day and asked him what his childhood dreams are and he said “I’ve accomplished all of them.” I said to him, “Great! What’s next?” and he said “Nothing.”

Well, that didn’t sit well with me.  I don’t think you’re ever too old to dream another dream.  And we mustn’t ever stop dreaming.  I think dreaming is one of the things that keeps us alive, just like food for the body.  For me, I have learned that to stop dreaming means to die – which is what I think I was doing.  I was dying while I was living.

So what makes us stop dreaming?  Until recently, I think what made my dreams seem impossible to achieve was fear.  Fear of not knowing what path my dreams would lead me, fear of being challenged, fear of the hard work involved, fear of what people would think, fear of others not approving.  I had to abandon all of these fears, let go of the blanket of comfort and security which they provided and I had to just put myself right out there.  To actualise your dreams means to work, and I have discovered that there is a formula to this: It takes curiosity, confidence, courage and constancy.  You need all of these to get where you want to be.  You need to work hard.  I did all of this without actually knowing I was doing it.

I don’t want to wake up one day in the future disappointed by the things I didn’t do.  I’ve already gone through that just last week and it felt crummy.  I want to look back on my life and smile.  I want to be one of those elderly people who talk about the good’ol days all the time.  I want to share with my family and friends what I have done, all the exciting things I’ve accomplished, the places I’ve been to, the people I have met, the craziness of my ideas and actions.

And crazy some people may think I am.  They may try to stop me with their words and actions.  They may be offended because I am going against the tide.  But I believe that each of us has a great potential to achieve what we dream and desire.  It’s never too late to have the life that you want.  I now get the saying that the world is too small for people who dream big.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson said “Dare to live the life you have dreamed for yourself.  Go forward and make your dreams come true.”  Now that most of my list is checked, I’m off to dream some bigger dreams.

Alone With Solitude

“Guard well your spare moments. They are like uncut diamonds. Discard them and their value will never be known. Improve them and they will become the brightest gems in a useful life.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

I know that I am strong.  There is no doubt about it.  To go through what life has handed me on a silver platter these past few years, and still be standing could only mean that I am strong.  I didn’t always think so, but I’ve learned to believe in my strength.  If I had the chance to go back in time and make changes, I wouldn’t change anything because so many beautiful gifts and so much understanding and growth has come out of this.  But I must admit – I am tired.  I’m tired of having to be the strong one, of always having to chug ahead no matter what and having to make decisions and take responsibility for a lot.  I am reaching the point where I am too tired to think and talk.  When I’m really tired I tend to go silent.  It isn’t that I’m avoiding people, or I have nothing to say.  I find that it just requires a lot of energy to line up all my thoughts in order to form them into sentences.  I don’t have that energy at the moment, and so I just let those thoughts swirl and swirl around in my mind hoping that they’ll wear themselves out eventually and stop.  So, please don’t think I’ve been quiet because of you.  It’s not you, really, it’s me.

So, what I’ve found out is that when I’m silent and wanting to be left alone, people get suspicious.  Trying to be alone becomes difficult, and I find that the opposite actually happens.  Because of my solitude, I am constantly apologizing or explaining my wanting to be alone.  People seem confused with the reason for why I crave it so much.  So I sometimes wonder why so many people are afraid to sit for a while alone without distractions, what are they afraid of that will happen?  It’s when I silence the blaring lights and mind numbing sounds of my daily life that I find that I can actually hear what life is truly trying to teach me, what has taken residence in my heart and is desperately trying to be communicated to me.  I find that at that moment things are no longer distorted and I can see the situations in my life for what they really are.  They are no longer mean and scary, and this is where I can gather up the strength and courage needed to take me through the next phase which I will be facing.  The only way I can understand this big, gigantic, and yet small world is to once in a while turn away from it, and retreat inward.

Please don’t think I’m some kind of hippy or monk.  I don’t sit on the floor in a yoga pose, or sit under an apple tree and say “Peace, Dude.”  I go on with my daily chores as normal.  I still go to work, run errands etc.  I just modify a few things.  I place my Blackberry on phone calls only – and respond only to urgent things.  Although I can’t stop doing everything, I do try to reduce the amount things that I do, because it’s unrealistic to think otherwise.  I just don’t speak with anyone. I stay quiet.  I listen to what my body tries to tell me. I may listen to the radio or watch TV, but most of the time I don’t because I find that with the silence around me, the noise tends to be intrusive.  I just veg out.

You’re probably wondering what the heck I’m talking about, so let me explain what solitude means to me.  I believe that the silence is a way to rest the mind.  Silencing the mind is to my spirit what sleep is to my body.  I don’t know about you but I know that I can’t go without sleep for too long because my body will break down, and the same holds true with my mind.  Silence provides nourishment and refreshment.  Going too long without providing it with what it requires makes it go mushy.  This is when depression sets in, situations become extreme and to difficult to be in and everything is thrown out of proportion – bigger, scarier and more complicated that they actually are.  To retreat inwards is difficult at times though, because sometimes I am forced to face not so nice things about myself and others.  I see the true nature of people, different from what I originally thought about them, almost like devils are disguised as angels, and angels are disguised as devils.  Being in silence allows for my spirit to tell the difference, since I am not wrapped up in the drama of the situations.

My times of solitude are gifts wrapped in many different sizes, some are happy, sad and many are suffering.  But it’s the times when I go through the darkness, the lonely, intense and horrible darkness and I struggle to express my pain, unable to comprehend, and my efforts to put words on paper that I find it to be most effective.  Through these times I am forced to be patient with myself, to endure and believe in the simplicity of it all, as life is so hectic most of the time.  With the difficulty of the silence grows a confidence in life and me, which allows me to loosen the reins of control and let life happen to me.  Because most times, life knows exactly what needs to happen, and the path is shown to me while in silence.

There is a pattern with this I have noticed too.  I don’t think about wanting to go into solitude, it just happens.  In the beginning there is a sense of joy as I begin to notice that I am preparing for the future, what is to come.  Then with action, anxiety then sets in as efforts are made to make changes to my life.  After this comes weariness, discouragement and then, once again, flight into solitude.  Sounds crazy really, why would I want to go into solitude again?  Why? Because of the joys which is felt.  There is meaning to all of this.

The secret of why I go into solitude, besides reflecting, growing and gaining strength and courage is that it gives birth to my creativity.  All the pain it causes me, these are gifts to me.  It is a place where I am able to go alone; I’m unable to bring anyone with me.  This world we live in is starved for solitude, silence and privacy – even in midst of the very unfamiliar circumstance.  There I am able to find all my paths, my healing and my peace. My solitude is my home.