Live Your Dreams!
It’s Both Unhealthy and Unwise, To Do Otherwise
by Jesse Wolf Hardin
Anima Lifeways & Herbal School
Kiva and I have been studying the archaic Western Four Humors constitutional model lately, after frustration over Western herbalists having to turn to Eastern cultures for an effective and practicable constitutional and energetic system. It has proved uncanny in its descriptions of Kiva, a “melancholic-choleric”, and “choleric-melancholic” me: decisive and determined, allegiance to noble ideals, goal or cause oriented. My type can be judgmental, intolerant and impatient they say, and I truly can’t deny that. The corollary on the Anima Medicine Wheel is the Center place of origin, in which the predominate energy is wild growth, movement, direction and potentially abrasive insistence, not always the most restful or pleasant of overriding personality-defining characteristics, this relentless need to re-create, heal and better the world, to identify a dream and obsess over its fullest realization.
Too often, however, human kind of whatever constitution error the other way, in unhelpful extremes of acceptance and toleration, reconsideration and resignation, self doubt and imagined powerlessness, attachment to approval and obedience to authority. As a people we tend to doubt… doubt the wisdom in any options we choose between, doubt our ability to make the right choices, doubt that we can effect the world in a significant or lasting way, doubt that we have the courage to take necessary risks or that we are truly worthy of the blessings and rewards.… doubt that we can ever live – or even deserve – the life and way of living we’ve always dreamed of.
There is something seriously wrong with the modern civilized tendency to ignore our callings and let our dreams slowly die, self-sabotaging a goal that might have been possible if only we trusted sufficiently in its meaning and value, in ourselves, in the power of courageous impassioned effort and personal persistence, and in the seemingly magical alignment of circumstances that can result in the highly unlikely often coming true. Far too often, we may listen to the warnings and compromises of others, or be held back by the concern they might dismiss our greatest and longest lived dreams as frivolous, childish or out of reach. Judging by some of the reactions we get, you’d think that we’re supposed to be satisfied living lives that we neither dreamed of nor planned for, obeying rather than discerning and initiating, conforming in order to function as part of a machine, rationalizing our dissatisfaction, suppressing our wild desires, and settling for less of what we need and desire most.
I can’t help but ache to this day, thinking about my own mother’s relentless desire to be an interior decorator, but never having the self confidence to act on it. I hurt, sensing the longing of all those who dearly wish they were someplace else, dreaming of opportunities in New York while failing to notice the pleasurable aspects of a Springfield or Tucson, or dreaming of settling in Alaska or Hawaii instead while thinking they’re settling for the state where they’re at. I am disquieted… by the quiet desperation of anyone who grew up hungering to be a healer or teacher, writer or an artist, a free form dancer or red-eyed rodeo star and then opted instead for a safe career that actually holds no meaning for them.
Whatever your most precious and significant dreams are, it’s vital to your deepest needs and ultimate satisfaction that you keep them alive, doing all you can to bring them to fruition, feeding them, growing them, and most importantly doing all you can every moment and day to live them! And this is true whether your dream is being a folk herbalist or Ph.D-holding researcher, bioregional farmer or world changing revolutionary, underpaid tree planter or unpaid backwoods parent . Whether it involves soothing stillness or stimulating motion, traveling the wide world or leaning how to become a responsible native in a single special place. Remaking society, or devoted to making the most wondrous meals. It’s stultifying to slip into default mode, unquestioningly repeating old habits and patterns, meeting outside expectations without responding to inner wants, or an inner calling reflective of a larger purpose. There is more damage is done to one’s self and kids by resentful or unenthusiastic mothering than by turning children over for adoption, and every relationship we give to is improved as a result of our making sure our dreams are acted on instead of relegated or sacrificed for their sake. Little that’s inspired can be expected from jobs we stick with only because we were once trained for them. Yet at the same time, even the most uninspiring source of income can be devoted to enabling and funding our desires and dreams… if only we make it so!
It’s up to each generation to help the children to identify, define, develop, and then fully live their most meaningful dreams – those that define, excite and motivate them the most. We may not always share their hopes and aspirations, but we need to support their pursuit nonetheless. Some youngsters may want to finish college so they can qualify for a certain enticing career, others may be called to dis school in favor of a more experiential route. Maybe their most fervent wish is to raise horses, work with the handicapped, or design solar powered gliders that soar effortlessly through the sky… but whatever it is they’re reaching out for, what helps most is to see the parents and adults around them stretching at the same time. We’re the most useful example for others when we’re not always doing the convenient or practical thing, but are instead demonstrating whatever level of determination it might take to heed a calling and honor a vision. We probably all wish the young folks we know will be able to make their dreams come true, and one of the best ways to help them is by showing we’re fully given to our dreams too.
Give yourself to that important cause that needs your dedication. Don’t let any obstacles stand in the way, push forward and watch for every opening. If you get fired from work, it could be the opportunity to create that innovative business, clinic or school that you always wanted to. If they cut your hours, it’s more time to do the things you’ve so long been missing. It can require a failed relationship, for us to insist on a more healthy pairing and dynamic the next time. Deep unhappiness with any aspect of our existence, can be our chance and our inspiration to change them. Being burdened with challenge, is our opportunity to insist and continue, persevere and prevail, exceed and excel. And it is the very difficulty and improbability of fulfilling our dreams that makes the our efforts in that direction so commendable, our results so prominent, and the resulting satisfaction so profound.
Climb that mountain that you said you would one day. Pick up that musical instrument you hanker for, even if it might take years to get good at it. Move to that city you can’t stop thinking about, or finally give yourself the country lifestyle you always wanted. Go broke if you have to, buying and sailing that dream boat. Give your all to the difficult but purposeful task. Do what’s required to pay for and facilitate the projects and causes you most care about, even if it temporarily means working for money at things you don’t enjoy. Sign up for the important home study course that you’ve been afraid you don’t have enough time or focus for. Start that practice and hang that shingle, walk that trail, organize that demonstration, stand up against that clear and grievous wrong,. However you envision your purpose, and whatever you imagine might bring you contentment, you need to know that it’s crucial as well as possible, even if you don’t yet know how… and remember that it’s never too late, so long as you start right now.
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