I can hear the lapping waters against the dinghy I imagine my life to be right now. A year ago I was in free fall, and today, the day my divorce becomes official, I can barely see the distant shore of what was once my marriage.
I am quietly floating, headed toward some new country that remains out of sight, my Ithaca. Life is so much about letting go and moving on. I’ve always had dreams to lead me.
While they may elude us, we can’t give up our dreams. What else are we going to reach for?
Long ago I thought I would be an Artist, and I was. For many years I painted and drew. I dreamed I’d move people with my ideas. I wanted to do something important with my work, something people cared about. Late into the night with Mozart to entrance me I would touch my dream, pushing paint across linen and falling into the little worlds I’d make with pictures.
When I ran out of money, I closed up my studio to seek a vocation people would pay for a little more quickly.
As a Designer, my skills at translating ideas into pictures and my empathy for both artists and engineers granted me passage to the golden land of Silicon Valley. My dream was to strike it rich. I learned valuable skills working “in the system,” and while my fancy title of Creative Director implied some connection to the sublime, I lost my way. I faced the beast. And I raised my rates.
I docked at the isle of my first marriage for a decade. Together we were going to make magic and raise a child. We did both, but not together.
At the station of my second marriage I dreamed again to work, live, and love in collaboration. It was an awesome dream. We dug our oars into the deep sea and pulled hard.
When gunshots broke the peace of our new neighborhood, I followed them into community organization. I learned a new Love for people. I was never more content. I knew I had turned my boat and was finally living a life I believed in. I started Pilot Fire.
Last July I proclaimed that in next 12 months I would stop sucking and kick ass. I set very ambitious goals and made rigid rules as an experiment in crafting a giant leap toward my dream to do something big that really matters. I’m far from those goals, but I’m so clear it’s a dream I want to follow.
I’m finally clear my work has important impact with the people who work with me, and working with them keeps me touching my dream. We learn together how to live our dreams as we reach for them.
“Living our dreams” may sound lofty, but it’s as simple as making sure what we do now resonates with what’s most important to us. Dreams are blurry and vague and they move us deeply when we allow ourselves to have them. Our lot is to translate our dreams into the decisions we make and the actions we take.
We will never fully live our dreams. We and they are always changing, but we can try to touch them as often as possible.
I live and work alone now, most days. For the time being I’ve set aside much of what was delightful about my life, singing with the world’s best men’s choir, chasing girls, and making scads of money. In the new home I made for us, my daughter and I touch base now and then, but her dreams are somewhere else.
So the water gently laps against my boat this morning. My dream calls from far far away, a song sung from nowhere in particular. There is no map to where I’m going. What lies ahead is another day of tugging at the oars.
It’s a good day. The wood feels firm under my hands, but I’m not ready to pull— not quite yet.
I’ll let the sun warm my back a little more.