one family's yearlong dare to live their dreams

Revisiting Our Dreams

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.” – Goethe

Many years ago I put these words on my college application, alongside a pencil drawing of an open hand that was not half bad. I chose my school, Vassar College, in no small part because I fell in love with an amazing tree that defied gravity to stretch a single solid limb across the lawn in front of the amazing, cathedral-like library. I spent a lot of time in that library.

Now the quote comes back to me with all the force of its exhortation. All year long, this Party of 4 project has incited my family to live with Goethe’s brand of boldness. It’s not easy to maintain that, but we’ve accomplished a lot. A trip to India. Flying lessons. Ten days of life-changing meditation. But round about midsummer we lost a bit of momentum, or at least, I did. My guitar teacher moved to Colorado. A nationwide franchise took over Michael’s flight school. Our finances were feeling the pinch of my India trip.

To get back the spark, I feel it’s time to revisit our original plan and make a few changes. The blogging diva Gwen Bell creates a “life list” of sorts every year, and then around midyear she revisits and revises it. I think this is wise, because we are not the same people we were in January, or even last week. We’re always changing, and this is a good thing. It’s a sign that life, energy, and the creative spirit are flourishing within us.

So I’m reevaluating. I’m letting go of a couple of the dreams that feel too much like type-A deadlines to me. Learning French, for one. This just might not be the year for that one, and I can let that balloon go. Instead of pressured goals, I’m opting for experiential dreams. I have discovered that I simply do not need one more item on my to-do list.

So my family has replaced French lessons for now with a plan to unplug together in a beautiful and inspiring place (I’m rooting for an obscure Caribbean island, or off-the-path Mexico). And above all these past couple of months, we’ve realized that feeding our creative spirits is as essential to us as food and sleep. Michael and I have both rededicated ourselves to creative writing–yet without those type-A demands and pressurized goals. It’s about creative play, and we’re taking cues from our 6-year-old, who is amazingly adept at this art. Now I’m writing poems again, Michael is back to penning his children’s book, and we’re both loving the process, the experience of creating itself, for its own sake.

Letting a dream go can feel just as bold and exciting as setting one into motion. Try it: Take a look at your life list. What can you edit out? What can you put in its place that really captures who you are right now, fully engaged in the intoxicating flux and flow that is life on Earth?

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8 Responses to “Revisiting Our Dreams”

  1. laura weiss says:

    On this day of re imagining life in all its guises and possiblilites …I say Amen sister to the continued unfolding conversation that will bring a new meaning
    to Revolution sparking Evolution…

    • Betty says:

      Unplugging in a beautiful and inspiring place is a terrific idea! And you don’t need to go far away (which would first require a great deal more plugging in to plan it all) to do it. You have already posted some great stories about the wonderful experiences you’ve had when the lights went out in your very own beautiful country home. Why not plan to just literally pull out the plugs there for a weekend, or a day, or an evening, and see what happens? Tell some stories, write some poems, roast some marshmallows around a campfire in your own backyard.

    • Wendy says:

      Thank you, Laura. I love the notion of a continued unfolding conversation, and revolution sparking evolution. Beautifully put, from a woman who is fully engaged with life and knows her stuff!

      And Betty – you’re right – we can unplug at home. Though it would require some real doing to separate ourselves from our multiple gadgets here, and especially to escape from our ever-present work! And I still want some turquoise Caribbean sea in the backdrop….

  2. Julie says:

    I think this is my favorite blog yet. I am a believer of un-doing the “TO DO” list… or maybe more aptly, the “MUST DO” list… who needs the tension when the goal is to stay grounded and feel, as you so eloquently write, “fully engaged in the intoxicating flux and flow that is life on Earth”? And I really love the point that we are not the same people we were yesterday or six months ago. I think everything we tend to put on our “TO DO/MUST DO” lists is not necessarily a “dream,” but maybe more an obligation or a memory of a desire from another time. So I don’t think you are letting go of dreams, I think you are letting go of stuff/desires/longings that you have realized aren’t really all that important to your present life.

    • Wendy says:

      Julie, wow, your comments are just so right on and they always get my wheels turning. I felt a jolt of recognition when I read your line about some dreams/goals being “an obligation or a memory of a desire from another time.” They are phantoms, and yes, they come to feel more like check-list items than soul-feeding yearnings. What is a dream in the true sense? What qualities should it hold? These are good, deep questions to turn in the mind. Thank you, my wise friend!

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