Wednesday, January 1, 2014

To Dream or Not To Dream

The beginning of a new year.  So often a time of resolution; of dreaming, planning, looking forward.  For maybe the first time in my life, looking forward is a challenge beyond my ability.  Plans and dreams?  They almost don’t seem worth the effort.

Up till now, I’ve not been one to give too much consideration to obstacles standing between me and my dreams, at least, not so early in the process.  I mean, the fact that something did or was likely to get in the way of achieving a dream didn’t keep me from dreaming.  But now…  It looks like one major failure piled on top of a lifetime of never quite being able to pull the trigger on anything remotely resembling an accomplishment has incinerated my ability to dream, right down to the roots.

And maybe that’s as it should be.  Maybe I don’t deserve to dream anymore. 

I have spent my life avoiding challenges.  I didn’t go to college because I was afraid I would fail.  I sank myself into a “career” that under-challenged my intellect, and told myself I was in it because I liked it.  Because it fit.  When the truth was, I had quickly discovered it was something I could do, and I made up my mind to look no further.  I suppose if I had known how physically and intellectually challenging my career choice would eventually turn out to be, I wouldn’t have chosen it, either. 

But, as it was, it provided everything I needed.  An income.  Something to keep me occupied; something to keep me engaged enough to forget about the dreams I had actually had, the ones I convinced myself were impractical or unobtainable because I had no clue how to go about achieving them, and I was too afraid of failure to find out.  Dreams of being a writer.  Or an artist.  Or a musician.  Dreams of living a creative life; a life for which I had no blueprint, raised as I was in middle class American suburbia.  Offspring of a bean-counter and an office worker, for whom a job was “a means to an end,” but inevitably became the end itself.

And though it hadn’t been one of my original dreams, I got married.  I had other plans, but I fell in love; glorious, deep, real and enduring love.  Or at least the degree of those superlatives to which one could aspire in the post-sexual-revolution 1970’s.  So I modified my personal dreams to include hopes and goals for my marriage.  We would always be close, best friends; always communicate, grow for the rest of our lives in love and understanding.  Always tend and cherish our relationship.  We would never become the two polite, accommodating acquaintances that my parents had become—sharing a mortgage and a bedroom, some kids and a dog. 

Somehow I combined these two unplanned directions my life had taken—neither of which bore any resemblance to dreams I had allowed myself growing up—twisted them together and formulated a “phase two” sort of dream.  So my life had changed course while I was busy making other plans…or, rather, avoiding making other plans.  I went with it.  Came up with the “someday we’ll have our own business” plan.  It seemed viable; seemed a way to make sense of my somewhat altered destiny; a way to glorify the mundane course my life had taken, to combine the things for which I had settled into a grand scheme of accomplishment and success. 

Here I am, fifty-eight years old, peering over the edge of the crater created by the rather spectacular crash and burn of that plan.  Patting myself down from head to foot…yes, I’m still alive.  Still in one piece.  Inexplicably hale and hearty, actually.  But…lost. 

The fact is, my reluctance and timidity when it came to pushing my own agenda combined to forestall my attempt to achieve it until so late in my life that, now that it’s obvious I’m not going there, I have no idea where to go.  Where I want to go.  Where I have the energy left to go.  Where I have the time to go.  I only know I’m damned sure that I do not want to be where I am now.  So…are having the knowledge, the energy or the time even worth considering?  I am not done yet, dammit, even if I don’t have a clue what to do now.   If ever there was a time in life for “Just Do It,” this would be it.

So I can’t let myself believe that I don’t deserve to dream.  I have to assimilate the lessons of despair and disillusionment the past several years have brought.  Hard as they are, those lessons have to be learned, in any life, young or old, sooner or later.  But they aren’t—they cannot be—the last lessons in the book.  The next chapter must be how to take the time and the energy and the will I have today, pile them layer upon layer into that crater, and make them into something. 

A dream.  A future.

A life.     

1 comment:

  1. Just a thought. They didn't call Grandma Moses, Grandma because she started painting when she was in her twenties. go for it.