“I’m just really mad at writing right now,” I tensely laughed into the phone. “But I”ll get over it and most likely write about it.”
“Have you read about J.K. Rowling?” my friend asked. We proceeded to tangent down the road of Harry Potter and friends, eventually turning a corner to return to my current frustrations.
“What I’m getting at,” he concluded, “is sometimes you just need to write for you, and not for other people. Eventually it’ll become something, or maybe it never will, but at least do it for yourself. At least try.”
Words I wasn’t so fond of swallowing. Yet here I am, writing about it.
Dreams are exhausting (can I get an amen?). There have been far too many times I’ve doubted the sentences I’ve strung together poetically and boldly. There have been even more times I wonder if I’ll ever be heard. If my dreams will happen, and at what point should I just give up and pursue something else.
A few nights ago, I drove with no direction but to follow the sunset. The sky was on fire in unabashed orange and gold, and I wanted its company for as long as it would allow me to be in its presence. So I drove, my mind completely all over the map.
Earlier that day, I sat on a neighbor’s back porch, looked into the heat of the day and blurted out, “I just never imagined I’d be here. I told myself I’d never come back, yet here I am.”
It’s hard to watch dreams shift and fold and re-write themselves. It’s hard admitting to yourself–better yet a neighbor–that you’re currently eating your own words for breakfast while you job search in your hometown.
I left that back porch in a deep thought daze, fully aware of my mess-ups yet fully aware of the grace that met me at the end of each mistake. But I had gotten into a habit of ignoring the grace, and allowed myself to slip through the cracks in too many ways. Dreams, habits, and deep belly laughter had been put in a box somewhere, and I purposefully forgot how to find it all again.
Until I realized why I’d put them in a box in the first place: I didn’t want to open up and let loose all those pieces of me here, in a place I have said “good riddance” to so many times, but am now calling home for the inevitable future. I’ve locked up my dreams, because I was fearful they would plant and root themselves here in this physical place.
So the shameless sky, inviting and comforting, was a sweet friend that night. It reminded me of the countless times I’ve soaked in sunsets before, from the back of a truck with 6 other people in Thailand, to one of my last nights on the beach in Oregon before I moved away. My eyes followed the traces of color as my mind wandered through timelines and memories in my head. I guess you could say life was flashing before my eyes, though I was nowhere near dying.
I started praying. Out loud. It’s always a bit awkward for me, but the words kept tumbling and running over each other while tears pricked my eyes and the sunset began to fade. “Why did you give me this? Why do I even love words, what am I supposed to do with this gift?” I cried, completely overcome by the odd sense of loss I felt.
Words have almost always been a dear friend to me. It’s weird, but I’ve often said a journal and good pen are two of my closest friends. They’re reliable; they go with you everywhere. They don’t judge what you write, both in secrecy and in openness. They’re joy and pain, tangible proof of the crush you had on that boy in middle school or the stress you felt when applying to colleges.
But lately, words have been taunting. The white page is too stark, the cursor blinking in an expectantly obnoxious way, while I just wish for dreams to pour out onto the page with little effort.
Of course, it doesn’t happen that way. Dreams rarely do. Dreams require 10 seconds of courage and handfuls of endurance. If only it were pixie dust and days full of pretending with the lost boys, but unfortunately, this is real life and real life doesn’t play fair.
I’ve challenged myself to make a list of 100 dreams. I’ve yet to start, so maybe one of my dreams should be to start a list of 100 dreams.
I challenge you to do it too.
Because, I think, adulthood robs us of dreams. Jobs and common sense take place of childlike wonder and hopeful imagination. Our brains are fully formed (at age 25, my friend tells me, so I’m doomed) and fears counsel more than dares do.
Are you sitting at a desk, completely unhappy with where your life has gone?
Do you ever drive home at night wondering what would’ve happened if you said yes to “fill in the blank” so many years ago?
Adults like to play the victim card. We like to sit in our mess, complaining about where life has taken or trapped us. We hope for someone to save us, to stumble upon our hopes and dreams and make us famous the way we imagined in our high school garage band.
But guess what: you have control. You are in control of where your life goes.
Your dreams may seem impossible, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pursue the dream birthed in you all those years ago. And it certainly doesn’t mean sitting in the mundane while your dreams and belly aching laughter collect dust in boxes.
There’s still time.
One of our biggest excuses as Westerners is “I ran out of time.” I’m horribly guilty of this. Right now, the clock is pushing toward dinner, and I “ran out of time” to write my book today. Writing a book has been a dream, and a disaster, and most days it seems more like a chore than a joy, but I have control over whether or not it happens. And today it didn’t, but that doesn’t mean tomorrow it shouldn’t.
Pursue your dreams, I beg you. I’ve met too many people who are unhappy with who they are today, and wonder where time has gone. I don’t want that for you.
Your worth isn’t defined by dreams fulfilled or dreams lost. Your worth also isn’t defined by your job description or your impressive bucket list.
But again, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try and achieve a dream now and again.
So write the list. If you can’t come up with 100, that’s ok. I don’t think I can right now, either. But start with one.
I’m somewhat still mad at words and book proposals and doing my very best to avoid this dream turned monster, but I’m doing it. I’m going to do it, I’m going to pursue it, if even just for me.
You can, too. And when you do, write to me. I love hearing about when dreams come true.