Last night I threw out this question to a few friends as we sipped drinks on my front porch in celebration of summer’s end: “What’s your dream?” All of us admitted to the difficulty of answering this question. I had mine on the ready (because it’s what prompted me to ask it), and a few of us had some ideas. But we all discussed why it’s hard to dream. And, I need to add, why it’s hard to dream as adult women. To children it comes easy. Astronaut, president, ballerina-princess-doctor (one of my daughter’s current dreams). “I’ll live in a castle!” “I’ll own half the world!” With gleeful enthusiasm, children freely dream. There are no checks to their dreams. No pause to think of the logical details like how and how much and when and what if. Their dreams tend to be fairly easy come, easy go as well. Yesterday she wanted to be a firefighter; today’s she’s going to be an artist. There’s no conflict in her mind.
What happens to our dreaming capacity as we grow up? I’m wondering if it’s similar to what happens to our creativity. That we begin comparing and analyzing and being “realistic” the older we get. We also go through a fair number of disappointed dreams, and this process starts to tell my heart that it’s emotionally too costly to dream. Then of course, there’s the question of if I dream, then how can I have a chance of contentment in my ordinary here-and-now? I think that’s why dreaming comes especially hard to us as women, many of whom have part of domestic life as our dream and/or our reality. Even if I am living my dream in spending most hours of most days at home with my kiddos, there are other parts to my life about which I have dreams. Motherhood often entails putting my dreams on hold, by choice and/or by force.
As I pursue my dream of writing a book, I am going through all of this (and more). Self-doubt creeps in disguised as “being realistic” and I condemn myself for wanting to write more than cook dinner, clean, or do crafts with my kids. I get impatient because walking towards a dream takes time. It’s slow and uncertain. And there is so much fear lurking just beneath the excitement. Fear that it won’t happen, that I’m not really “good enough,” that I will be horribly disappointed or that it will be too consuming and take away from life and love and relationships (thus=not worth it).
Nevertheless, I am trying to silence all my nay-sayers and live my dream. Have a dream; pursue it; and find out what happens along the way.
One inspiration? My in-laws, who ever since their only grandchildren were born 4 years ago have nurtured a dream of living day-to-day life with their only son and his family. Living in northern New Jersey got in the way, and so over the past year+ they have worked steadily towards realizing their dream and tomorrow will call Virginia “home.” Leaving friends they’ve known all their lives behind, and the only house they’ve called “home” in their 41 years of marriage, they will be traveling down here to be with us. I certainly am humbled to be the recipient of such love, and I am inspired at their courage to live their dream during their sunset years. They’re teaching me that you’re never too old to dream!