Note: This is the second part of a two part article. See From Chaos to Clarity for the first part.
Everybody dreams of a different or better future. Sometimes we dream a little. Sometimes we dream a lot. Some people act on their dreams with the hope of bringing them into fruition. Some people dismiss them out of sheer discouragement believing that there is no way to bring them to pass. And some people dance between the two, endeavoring to manifest their dreams, reaching a point of discouragement and giving up, and then trying again.
If having a great life were easy everyone would have one. Goals and dreams are exceedingly important for creating a future worth having. Dreams allow us to structure our ambiguous future in a way that we want. They allow us to escape the discontent of this moment by providing a hope of having something different and more meaningful down the road. Goals provide us with tangible steps toward creating what we want. Perhaps your dreams include things like:
- getting through your divorce
- reestablishing stability after divorce or other loss
- finding a new love
- creating great home environment
- having a happy family
- better health with more stamina and vitality
- financial independence
- fulfilling work
- meaningful relationships
To a certain degree dreaming is about attaining those things. If there isn’t a tangible reward to our dreaming why do we bother? Just dreaming the dream doesn’t make it happen and sometimes as hard as we try we just don’t have what it takes to make the dream come true. Our tendency is to look to something outside of ourselves to bring the dream to pass… the tooth fairy, the promotion, the knight in shining armor, the wizard, wishing on a star, the good witch, the lottery, or bargaining with God. “God, if you’ll do this one little thing….” The bigger picture, however, is that ultimately the fulfillment of our dreams has to do with evolving/growing/becoming the kind of person who can have the desired dream. Chasing our dreams changes us as we pursue them. It grows us up, makes us stronger, helps us become the person who can have the dream.
There are many things in life that bring us right up against the underdeveloped or immature parts of ourselves: relationships will, divorce does, and so does creating a bigger life. We bump up against the parts of ourselves that don’t have a clue how to make our dreams happen. The things that we don’t know that we don’t know come front and center. With beginner’s mind we must take the first feeble steps to learn. It can be disconcerting at first.
Catching that first glimpse of all that you don’t know can be overwhelming. In seemingly a moment of time you become aware of all there is to learn in order to bring even a single dream come to pass. If your dream is to live in Barcelona for a year you will need to learn the language, understand the currency, make travel plans, find housing, prepare financially by saving the money, finding a sponsor, or finding work when you get there. And those are just the major things. Unless you are already proficient in a number of those areas there is a substantial learning curve ahead of you. The same with starting a business, learning to be great parents, or building a relationship. Life is a learning journey for sure.
I say this to remind all of us that growing up is basically haphazard chaos. We live, we learn, we grow. As Hillel says, “I get up. I walk. I fall down. Meanwhile I keep dancing.” It is important that we normalize the process of changing and growing, of doing it wrong and trying again, of making mistakes and even venturing into what we call failure. It’s all ok. It’s the only way to build a dream, a life, or a relationship worth having.
I hope you will, along with me, adopt a learner’s mind, be gentle with yourself, pay attention, and joyfully embrace the stumbling that brings you one step closer to the life you desire.