Some of you might have read the last post on beginnings and cultivating the beginner’s mind: https://azphoenix.wordpress.com/2012/10/31/always-at-the-beginning/. Well after last weekend and completing my written Teacher Training assignment, I have been thinking a lot about, THE DREAM. You know this one. You might have had it since you were 5, or since you were a teenager or since you joined the workforce. It’s the story you’ve had in your head filled with all the musts, shoulds and should nots. It’s the one that keeps playing even when you are awake, keeping you from being conscious.
I am with you on this one as I am one of those lucky people who was brought up believing in THE DREAM. In this dream, I was meant to have it ‘all’. This particular all included a job in upper management, owning things including a house and a car, a household with a husband and a couple of kids by the age of 35. For most of my life, I believed in this dream. I knew no other way, and worked towards the target of getting ‘there’. Of course, if you know me now, you would know that apart from the Masters and the very brief engagement, I never really got there. Some would say I got waylaid and will get there eventually, and others will say I lack the conviction to follow the dream. I will say that there’s been a change in plans.
Am I the only one who was brought up with some version of THE DREAM? Perhaps not. Some of us get it from the media, believing that living like George Clooney, Kate Middleton or Charlie Sheen is the dream. Some of us get it from our parents and society. When a child is born, parents would naturally have hopes for it. Sometimes the hopes have a bit of leeway, and it comes down to how happy the child becomes as an adult. For others though, these hopes have become road maps for them. The sad thing is, like me, some of us go through a substantial amount of life believing that THE DREAM as we have been told it should be is the be all and end all of life.
In my last life, I worked in the backpacker industry. Historically, this culture of taking time to travel before going home as ‘adults,’ dates back to the Renaissance. Way back then, it was a time when apart from the playing around, would be exposed to culture including art, music, good food and living on their own. Back then this rite of passage was limited to upper class boys, who would go on these trips before returning as “worldly” gentlemen ready to take on the family business, go into politics and what not. These kids would definitely be part of the 1%. However, without thinking of the purpose, the gap year can very easily become just something to do, without a real appreciation of the value of it. It’s very easy to go off, get drunk for a time, and come back to live the rest of this prescribed dream.
There’s a lot of hype placed on having the five year plan, and the two year plan and the six month plan. If you’re Mr. or Ms. Driven, you’ll have one of these, and sometimes, you’ll just push forward with these plans, only to come up with more plans and targets once you’ve reached the first goal. In my life, I have known some very driven people, and of course, way back when, I was one of those people myself, pointy heels, hurried walk, heavy makeup and all. If you walked behind me, you would be breathing in a trail of cigarette smoke. I’m sure you know someone like that, or maybe you’re like that yourself – the kind of person who has a ‘should’ for everything, the way you should dress, the car you should drive, the job you should have, the kind of person you should date, the place you should live… it’s endless, these shoulds. Apart from the shoulds you already have, there are the shoulds that come from the organisation you work for, and you prescribe to these shoulds to because if you don’t then your career heads nowhere.
For me, I should have had a Masters, a good job and a stable relationship by the time I was 30.
As it turned out, my 30th year was absolutely fucking horrendous! Saturn has been taking it’s time to return for me, and some days I wonder if my parents knocked two years off my age as I’m 32 and shits still happening. But the truth is, no matter how fucked up, the last two years have been the most eye opening of my life. A couple of years ago, I was well on track to living THE DREAM, but when I think back to all the addictions I suffered, my awful eating habits and disgraceful sleep patterns, I realise that something must have been missing. I pretended to be happy, but I was also very judgmental of people and when someone looked happy and relaxed a part of me resented it. Emotionally, physically and mentally, I was fucked up, so don’t even think of my spiritual state. (I’m still not 100% now, but hey, who is?)
The thing is, perhaps like you do, I had this story in my head of THE DREAM, but it took broken dreams for me to realise that what I should have been doing instead was working on MY DREAM. Sometimes, you just have to allow space for a change in direction and a change in the big picture.
It’s very easy to get into a story of how it should be sometimes, but perhaps, it’s time to stop and look at the story. Is this your story or someone else’s? Are you living YOUR DREAM, or are you just living THE DREAM? In my case, I have a long way to go, and a lot of nasal cleaning (inside joke) to do before I get to live MY DREAM, but I’m grateful that the last couple of fucked up years, and especially the last seven months have allowed me to start thinking about what MY DREAMS could be.
And again, it’s all about possibility.