Live Your Dream Now:
Setting An Example of Striving Instead of Resigning
by Jesse Wolf Hardin
Admittedly, it can prove unhealthy to stake one’s enjoyment and satisfaction on getting exactly what we want in life. Extreme examples of this could include finding no pleasure in a meal just because it didn’t come out perfect or lacked a coveted ingredient, if we’re miserable because we can’t be a famous singer even though we can’t hold a tune, or if we go decades without a loving partner simply because none meet some glorified image we’ve turned into an unattainable standard. It could cost us the food on our plates, to quit a boring but paying job to seek out a way to do what we love.
Far more prevalent and more insidious, however, is the human tendency to let a powerful dream die that might that have otherwise been realized… shortchanging a goal that might have been possible if only we believed sufficiently in its meaning and value, in ourselves, in the power of courageous impassioned effort and personal persistence, and in the magical alignment of circumstances that can result in the highly unlikely sometimes coming true. Far too often, we may find our greatest and longest lived dreams being dismissed by others as frivolous, impractical 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 writer or an artist, a dancer or a rodeo star and then opted for a safe career that actually holds no meaning for them. It’s sad when the impoverished fantasize about having electricity, so they can see at night to read. But it’s just as terrible when a person grows up wanting to live a life close to the land whether as field botanist or straw-hatted vegetable farmer, then ends up spending his or her adulthood commuting in a car, shuffling papers in an office or teaching plant curricula under a university’s flickering fluorescent lights.
What matters, is that whatever your most precious and significant dreams are, you keep them alive, doing all you can to bring them to fruition, feeding them, growing them, and most importantly living them! And this is true whether your dream is being a teacher or a researcher, a helpful healer or world changing revolutionary, a birth-tending midwife or family-tending housewife. 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 end up leaving the university or the high paying job because they hunger for a simpler life back on the farm or ranch. Maybe their most fervent wish is to raise horses, work with the handicapped, or design 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 best example for others not always when we’re doing the convenient or practical thing, but when we’re demonstrating the kind of determination it takes to really pursue a vision. We probably all wish the young’ns we know will be able to make their dreams come true… and one of the best ways we can help with that, is to show them that 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 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 one 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 our 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. 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. Sign up for the important correspondence course that you’ve been afraid you don’t have enough time or talent for. Start that business or practice, organize that demonstration, stand up against that clear and grievous wrong. If you find yourself alone, hold out for a supportive mate. And however you envision your purpose – and whatever you imagine might bring you contentment – remember that it’s never too late.
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