Hold Fast to Your Dream!

Have you ever noticed that the instant you change your act—change a behavior, break a habit, start a new project, whatever—that you bump headlong into a massive wall of resistance? Sometimes the resistance comes from others, but mostly, I believe, it comes from our own “little self” that hates change of any kind. And we’re very good at creating whatever we’ll believe as a good reason for resisting change.

I resisted following my dream of writing for most of my life after the first devastating circular frustration of doing battle with traditional publishing houses:

“Got an agent?”
“No, this is my first book.”
“We only work with established authors who have agents.”
“Okay. How did they get their first book published?”

That led to the dance with agents:

“Got a published book?”
“No, this is my first book.”
“We only work with established authors who have published.”
“Okay. How did they get their first book published?”

After I’d collected enough rejection letters to paper my bathroom, I decided it wasn’t the right time to pursue this when I was already working long hours as a professor and giving workshops evenings and weekends. I justified my decision to dump my dream with socially-acceptable excuses. “I love to write, but who’s got the time?”

Now I see it differently.

I believe that some part of me was totally freaked about the possibility that my life would change—and change drastically—if I continued on that path. J.K. Rowling, in a televised interview following the success of her famous Harry Potter books, made a statement that really resonated with my “little self.” She was wearing a somewhat shell-shocked expression while hiding behind the massive front door to her isolated mansion when she said something like, “I never dreamed it would have this profound effect on my life.”

My precious “little self,” ever ready to protect me, smiled and said, “See? I told you.”

Then one day I retired from teaching and suddenly had all this time…

At first I simply reveled in the opportunity to do nothing all day long. A former colleague stops me in the grocery store and asks, “What have you been up to?”

Beaming, I reply, “Nothing. Absolutely nothing.”

I imagined that itch to write had been mollified for so many years by keeping numerous journals for a variety of issues and occasions, that pursuing writing—as in writing for others to read—was a non-issue. But it wasn’t. I began to feel depressed, sad, useless, worthless…and nothing I did (except writing) chased away the dark shadows and brought back the joy.

My little self hadn’t realized till then the impact of totally abandoning my dream, and desperately cooked up more justifications. “How about the end of the world? Will that do?”

So naturally, over the past five years, I felt compelled to read all the versions of End O’ Days I could find. I summarize briefly what I learned in my very first blog post, November 10, 2010.

What I finally realized is that no one knows what’s going to happen—not even the world Elite who imagine they are master-minding the show. In other words, this was just another attempt of my “little self” to protect me from the awful consequences of writing for public scrutiny—“Why bother when the world’s going to end anyway.”

This realization, that no one knows when (or if) the world will end, must have taken hold, because when I read recently that a certain religious group had joined the “End O’ Days” crowd with their own prediction—“Will May be beginning of the end? Christian group spreading the word” Tom Breen, AP— I simply laughed out loud.

What I do know is this: We are here to be joyful. We are here to experience Love. We are here to express ourselves. Denying the expression of whatever moves us, whatever elevates us with joy, is not only self-destructive—because it will be accompanied by pain, trust me—but is also akin to “flipping off” the Almighty. There. I got your attention.

“However you understand your Source” is wanting to express through you. All those little nudges are coming from your “Big Self,” the one in relationship with All That Is. It’s not about money, although that could be an outcome. It’s not about fame, although that could happen, too. It’s about contributing your one true note to the humongous orchestra. Bliss happens when we do. What happens afterwards is none of our business. (For those enamored with the “follow your bliss and money will happen” perspective, consider the lives of Edgar Allen Poe, Van Gogh, Mozart, et. al. …)

You say, “But sometimes we just don’t have a clue about what, precisely, our one true note is!”

“I totally get that! And, discovering what brings us joy, what we really want, is another one of those “why we’re here” kind of processes. It’s about paying attention to how we feel when we are doing something. How we feel when we imagine not doing something. It involves choosing.

John-Roger and Peter McWilliams offer an exercise in their book, Life 101, which involves first listing everything you want. Then add everything you have now that you want to keep. Now distinguish each item listed into one of three categories: “(A) those that are very, very important to you; (B) those that are very important to you; and (C) those that are merely important to you.” Now comes the hard part: ask yourself, “What’s the one thing I want to keep?” and write that one thing on a separate list. Do that nine more times. Those ten things are what you really want.

The authors say that “Actually doing this exercise…is something people frequently avoid. People intuitively know that when they choose what they want, (A) they will have to give up some ‘good ideas’ there is simply no time for, and that makes them sad, and (B) there’s a much greater chance that they will get the things they truly want, which can be scary. For some, rather than face the loss and the fear, they’ll just accept the status quo and continue reading self-help books…” Ouch.

For me, a silver senior, it’s definitely time to just do it—pick a lane and follow my dream.

What about you? What do you want? What’s our dream?

Till next time, please give yourself love and compassion and allow your process to unfold.  ~Tzaddi

Note: This is a re-post from 2011.

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