Possibilities

JUNE 10, 2011 4:52PM

In this life we're free to dream what ever we want to...

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                        "...but that doesn't mean our dreams are going to come true."
                                                              ALO, Barbeque
 
They certainly have a better chance of coming true if we actually strive for those dreams. I have spent most of my life not striving for my dreams. Which isn't entirely fair to myself. I dreamed of having children and I have four. I dreamed of a handsome, caring, intelligent husband, and I have him, too. I had a simple dream which was to be good at something, anything. I thought it fueled self worth. Unfortunately, doing things you're good at isn't necessarily a good use of one's time. I am an excellent typist and so ended up being a secretarial temp in summers during college rather than, say, working at the White Mountain Huts in New Hampshire. 
 
I was good at languages and Chinese was being offered at a local night school. I took it and was good at it, so kept on studying. In college many of my fellow East Asian Studies Majors had calligraphy framed on their walls, bookshelves lined with Chinese philosophers. I never was a sinophile, never had a dream to go to China, was never enthralled with the country. I ended up going to China because I wanted to use the language I had learned. Okay, yeah, going abroad at 22 was exciting. But had someone sad, "Let's say you don't know any foreign language, which country would you pick?" It wouldn't have been China, let alone Asia. Probably somewhere in Europe, say, Switzerland.
 
Locals here in Pennsylvania are impressed. "Wow, I've never lived anywhere but this town," they've said, "and you lived in China!" I'm not saying it wasn't cool. What I am saying is I don't have much experience really wanting something and then specifically going after it. Usually I do the opposite. I want something so bad that I run away, afraid of trying and failing. Oh yeah, that'll work!

In therapy they ask you what you liked as a child; how you played. Me? I wrote poems. All the time. Sent them to grandparents for holidays. I drew pictures. Lots of them. I wrote and illustrated stories. I never wondered if I was good, I knew I was. More importantly I thought I was.

Why is that more important? There are plenty of people mediocre at what they do living their dreams. I mean seriously, have you ever seen a butt-ugly building? Some aspiring architect followed his or her dream all the way through school and got accredited to design that building. Some planner agreed to build it. Does it really matter that I don't like it?

I have a friend who is excellent at many skills, but has said to me proudly, with her chin raised high, "The thing I do best is sewing!" I am incredulous. I'm a lousy sewer, but I know what makes a good sewer. My mom, for one. This woman in question leaves loose ends and seams that unravel, is without question not a detail person. But does it matter? Sewing makes her feel happy.

So, the therapist, the career specialist would ferret out my dreams and urge me to be a writer, an artist, a poet. Then the recession hits me in the face. Taps me on the shoulder. "Um, Meg? Like, you know, you could have checked all this out when you were home with the kids in school, your husband earning six figures. Like maybe that would have been a better time to explore your artistic dreams? Could you now please crumple them in a ball and throw them in that energy-efficient fireplace insert? They would make better fuel."

When met with this challenge--explore your inner self or continue to take turns down unfullfilling paths with uncertain monetary gain I end up doing neither, frozen like that proverbial deer in the headlights. My husband does the opposite. He is driven with frenetic energy doing everything he can, staying up until midnight writing reports, scrounging to earn us extra income. Rushing out the door, forgetting his keys, his wallet, getting speeding tickets. Neither of us seem to be making any headway. Clearly he is right? Isn't he?

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It is interesting how you end up getting what you "don't" dream of. I dream, plant the seeds, watch them slowly grow, and then either obtain my dream or get really close to it. Either way, getting there is the fun part!
It's a struggle we all take part in. Some of us have dreams that are impossible to fulfill. But we still dream.