Updated: Jul 31, 2019
“You are never too old to set another goal….or to dream a new dream.” C.S. Lewis
It’s surprising how easily you put yourself out there as a child…an impromptu song and dance routine in front of the family, dancing in a multi-coloured unitard in front of a hundred people at a school concert, standing up in front of the class reading aloud your creative writing with a sense of pride, knowing that a red dress and pink tights really don’t go together but not caring and wearing it anyway.
Yet as an adult, we create barriers to stop ourselves from fulfilling our dreams. We say that we are too busy or don’t have enough energy, time or money to engage in whatever it is that we seek to do. Maybe we just forget how to dream.
I used to dream a lot; the wonderful husband, the two kids, the dog and the house with the picket fence. I am truly blessed as all of these dreams have become a reality yet suddenly I found myself in my early 40’s, without a true sense of what ‘new’ dreams I should have. Go to Italy (that’s a no-brainer), live to an old age with great health (but of course)…..but surely there must be more? Marianne Williamson said “middle age is the time you step into your destiny.”
Oprah screened an episode several years ago about reconnecting with your passion. The interviewee posed the question “what is your passion?” As I sat there, I realised that I couldn’t answer that question. Of course I was passionate about my family but this was more about finding something that was just for yourself; something that would replenish your soul. Then she said something simple and it resonated deeply within me. She said “ask yourself what you were passionate about as a child.”
Writing. The word popped into my head instantaneously. Something that had been such an integral part of my life as a child and teenager had totally disappeared from the landscape of my adult life. I used to dream of becoming an author or working as a journalist. Instead, for various reasons, I chose to study nursing and somehow, the writing stopped.
After that show, I started to write again. The concept of being an author and all that it encapsulated in my mind was, in reality, very far from the truth. The dream of spending my days in the sun, gazing out at the beautiful blue ocean with words cascading from my inner soul and landing perfectly onto the page isn’t how it works in the real world. Often I have read how writers can agonise over a word or a paragraph for days, just to ensure the perfect fit. I now know it to be true because I have done it too.
I don’t delude myself that writing will bring fame and fortune as how many writers out there also have a day job? Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat Pray Love summed it up so eloquently when she said, “I can’t get behind the ambition to be ‘discovered’ as much as I can get behind the ambition to write beautifully and honourably and steadfastly.” Absolutely true Elizabeth. I totally agree. I just want to write. Write beautifully.
Up until quite recently, my words have landed in a file on my computer, not a structured novel or even a concept for one. They were merely words on a page; threads of a story that maybe one day would become more but in that moment were happy to just be what they were. It felt safe to have my words neatly tucked away where no one could see them. In my illogical mind, as long as no one could critique my writing my dream of becoming an author could remain intact whereas if I put my words out there and everyone said it was rubbish, my dream would be shattered into a million irrevocable pieces. But then one day it dawned upon me; if I never shared my words I would never become an author. And if I shared them and failed? I would still be a writer. No one could ever take that away from me.
And so I started to write…..and kept on writing. I’m now in my mid 40’s and I have seven thousand carefully cultivated words and counting (not a lot I know but for a recovering perfectionist who dissects every sentence, trust me, it’s a lot!!). I have the general concept for my novel. I have the characters. I think I know how it will end. It’s a start.
The past year I have reconnected with the magic, with my dreams, and it feels pretty damn good. There are other forms of magic I have encountered but that is for another post.
Harriet Tubman, an African-American abolitionist, humanitarian and Union spy from the Civil War said “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” My words might not change the world but I will still try to reach for the stars.