I have a friend who is extremely talented at what she does. She is committed to her education in her craft and committed to practicing it. She looks like the perfect ‘model’ for the industry. So much so that I have, for months, been gently pushing her to put herself ‘out there’…… “the world needs it” I implore.
“Something always stops me” – she replies.
“That’s just a self-worth thing” I decide.
A few days ago, we sat for a late afternoon nosh after a meditation lecture we attended. We talked about the lecture then moved on to our day-to-day goings on and then observations of our personal lives and then, out of the blue I said ‘What are you dreams?’
A deep breath prefaced her reply; “I have many”.
“Give me 3” I urged.
So she did. Over a spread of freshly baked croissants three solid, colorful dreams which included travel, getting back to nature and nurturing people through food were laid on the table. Her talent, the one that I have been urging her to promote, I noticed, was not. I was surprised. So was she.
But there it was; that thing which has been stopping her all along – it’s not part of her dream. Just a little thing, you know!
I have been thinking that global branding and international fame is what direction she wanted to, nay, should take her career because, truth is that’s the direction I would take it if I had her skills and talent. I had been defining her dream for her all along based on my own value system.
To hear that it’s actually not part of her big life dream was a relief for me, and for her I think too. She is perfectly amazing and living in to her potential right now.
How many times have you heard someone say “You know you should really…….” and then share their observations and opinions about your life? It’s so easy to get caught up in feeling the pressure of other people’s projections of what you should do, and where you should go. Or worse, get tangled up in the confusion of your dream, and someone else’s dream for you.
The truth is, quite often what they’re really saying is “if I had that opportunity, this is what I would do’ – what they want for you, often has nothing to do with you at all.
It’s also really easy to get disappointed by someone who isn’t living up to your ideal image of their potential. I am not saying the people in your life don’t have the capacity to go as big as you want them to but there is just this really small thing you might want to check first; their private, personal dream.
If my family are reading this…..sorry.
Many parents have a way of doing this – projecting their own un-lived dreams on to their children.
A close friend of mine often questions my decision to be here in America, and not Australia. I am single, I have no commitments and my only reason to be here is of my own will. She, on the other hand, is bound here by various things and desperately wants to raise her children back home in Australia. I realize that her inability to relate and be inspired by my choice to be here has nothing to do with me. My decision to live in a country that she no longer wants to live in simply doesn’t sit within her value system and therefore, doesn’t make sense to her.
The bottom line is, until I actually clearly define what it is I DO and DON’T want in my dream life – the people who love me most will always be willing to step in and do it for me – based on their values and their dream life. Either that or societal norms will dictate my direction and re-define my dream for me. Either way, I am going in some direction whether I like it or not. Whether I-LIKE-IT-OR-NOT …. Ka-ching! The defining statement.
However, once I stand firm in my conviction of the life I want to lead, once that dream becomes clear enough that I can stand behind it, those same people will be the ones helping me get there and societal agreements and codes of conduct for success will seem like cute little maxims I might read in a bubble gum wrapper. Entertaining, but not a mantra for me.
“I have learned, that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours”. Thoreau.
I wonder if the ‘living the life we imagined’ part is actually the easy part. Perhaps it’s the ‘imagining the life’ part that some of us haven’t quite mastered, or at least defined – and I don’t mean daydreaming oneself out of a bad day – I mean the really big important imagining. Julia Cameron said it perfectly when she said “Each of us has an inner dream that we can unfold if we will just have the courage to admit what it is, and the faith to trust our own admission. The admitting is often very difficult.”
I am not promoting that we stop nurturing our friends and offering opinions about their direction based on our own life experiences, or that we stop listening to suggestions. There is great inspiration in other people’s experience and ideas. It’s exciting to be shown the way sometimes and to show others our way sometimes too.
No. What I want to promote now is an embargo on problems and weaknesses coveting a conversation and encourage a coup d’état of our deepest desires and our dream life. Next time you’re with a family member, or a friend, ask them what their dream is – you might find yourself very surprised, and perhaps a little inspired.
I leave you with Mary Oliver;
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.