Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Daring to Dream

Recently I read that we must dream about success in order to achieve it.  Painting a clear mental picture of the life we desire -- how we want to look, to be, to live -- subconsciously prepares us for it.

It's my nature to strike up conversations with total strangers.  I meet people everywhere I go...and sadly I seldom meet anyone who is really living.  By "really living" I mean constantly setting goals and striving toward them, through obstacles, and challenging oneself to learn more, to BE more.  Living, to me, is exhilarating.  Almost everyday I leap out of bed, thrilled to get my day started, to experience life simply but profoundly. 

Many people drag themselves through each day.  They are unhappy with their life; they feel unsuccessful.  At some point along their path they have lost hope in their dreams. Or worse: they no longer dream. They followed a carrot to college immediately after high school, or they took a "good job".  They got married, had some kids, at the "appropriate" age.  Today they have seniority, their kids are almost grown; they might be grandparents.  For many years they have taken their once-a-year, one week-vacation.  They seem to be following their own proverbial carrot toward retirement and, ultimately, death.  They do not seem to be in charge of their life.  Some are miserable, some merely complacent.  All seem to be overwhelmed by life.

I see most people as that doughnut-making character in the 80s-era Dunkin Donuts commercials: "Time to make the doughnuts, the doughnuts, the doughnuts..."  Always working, always serving someone else's needs at the expense of their own...

There are very few choices I regret.  Overall I am grateful I have chosen to live an authentic life, the life I was supposed to live, not the life others told me I should live.  I have never lived according to some arbitrary timeline.  Most people do.  They are trapped by others' expectations...they have to go to University A, or work for Company B, or live in Subdivision C.  They derive their self-worth from competing with and, they hope, outdoing their friends and neighbors.  Not me.  A long time ago I plucked myself from that hamster wheel because it just didn't feel right for me.  I saw that type of competition as merely a preoccupation, an activity to distract me from really living.

I do not consider myself a better person than most because I am my own person.  I consider myself fortunate.  Liberated.  At just the right moment, when I was floundering to find my way, I was encouraged to think beyond convention.  I was given support --FREEDOM -- to explore the bounties of life and to find my path toward garnering these riches.  I was taught to dream. 

Permitting oneself to dream is simple.  It is an essential component of really living.  So why do we stop?  Why do we give up the one thing that allows us to really live, the thing that guides us toward being the most genuine and best version of ourselves?  Dreaming makes us better spouses, parents, friends, co-workers, neighbors...INDIVIDUALS.  It's free!  Our cultural pattern is to give up on our dreams by a certain age, to "grow up", to "be normal." 

If most people are grown-up normal people, I'm happy to be immature and abnormal.  I'll gladly keep dreaming about a better life tomorrow while feeling happy about my great life today.  Perhaps someday my path will cross that of someone looking for direction, and I'll teach her to dream.  I'll encourage her to discover happiness by really living.

Do you dream?  What do you see in your dreams?  What are you doing now to prepare you for realizing your dreams?  Are you happy?

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