Dreams are not intended to be frozen. Dreams should not stay in their nascent embryonic slumber. They need to be developed, nurtured, and practiced. Dance with our dreams. Play with our dreams. Wrestle with our dreams. Love on our dreams. For me, this is new and pulse-pounding, and terrifying. I grew up living for others. Living for my mother. Living for my sister. Living my husband. Living for my kids. Living in the shadow of my own life. My dreams lived in a kind of fetal stagnation-the seeds of potential without sustenance. Without beginning.
The hardest question that anyone could ever ask me was this, “What do you want?” The thought so foreign, the prospect so frightening, the unearthing so deep that paralysis, fear, and insecurity overwhelmed me at the very thought of personal volition. Personal want. Personal risk. Personal success and personal failure. Like Tumus facing the White Witch in C. S. Lewis’s The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, I faced my fear and was left frozen-a statue stuck and stone.
The challenge for me, and maybe I’m not alone, is moving dreams from an eternal, dormant, cryogenic safety into lived life. I question, how? What keeps dreams frozen, cold, and clinical? And what unlocks the hidden chamber to our cryogenic dreams? The clever irony and slight-of-hand is that a dream in its cryogenic state is somehow perceptually eternally preserved, unsullied, inviolable and in that state, it can remain untouched and thereby idealized. Like Snow White entombed in youth, beauty, and innocence. This is the irony. That is not real. That is not lived. It is an elusive idea frozen in a state of illusion and falsity. If we want to play make believe, and Snow White our way into inertia, fading dim in frigid ideas, then simply white-knuckle the dream. Hide it away. Bury it. Cover it in complacency and forget.
I don’t want a life filled with dusty old dreams, ripe with atrophy and forgetfulness. I don’t. But I also get lost. I struggle to know where to begin the daunting process of moving dreams from their frigid comfort to the messy, complicated day-to-day. In fear and uncertainty, I let living for other people be my safety. My protection from the possibility of actually actualizing my dreams. I avoided. I ignored. I side-barred. I detoured. Then one fine day I had a frightening moment of clarity and self-awareness. I realized that the first step to defrosting my frozen dreams was to give them voice. Take them out of the closet, dust them off, and bring them into the sun. Here is it, my dreams: To be a powerful voice for change, to write a novel with meaning and substance-the kind with real impact, to be a renowned public speaker, brilliant and well-read. To quote Plato, Herman Hess, and Carl Jung in casual conversation. I want to be an artist with a vivid and expressive understanding of color and shape. To have a love so deep and real that we laugh and cry simultaneously. To take one of my ideas and make a successful business. Wildly successful. To wear a red power suit to work and own a meeting like Murphy Brown. Hike the Inca Trail. Traverse Mount Everett’s base camp. Spend an autumn in Italy with pasta and a lover. Live on the beach. Surf. Win a tennis tournament. Coin a new word. Cross the PCT in a summer. Speak Spanish fluently.
Dreaming is an active process. It begins with thought-tantalizing, terrifying, beautiful thought, and continues with deliberate action. Dreaming must move from the mind and into the body-from thought into action. It is spontaneous, calculated, giant and incremental movements that can transform a dream from a hope and an idea into a gorgeous lived and breathed life. As humans, we must harness the embryo of our individual dreams and the possibility within. There is nothing to lose and everything to gain. I have my life and you have yours. To begin, make a list and shout it to the world.
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