I saw this recently on a Facebook wall post….and in my head, I cheered “hear, hear!!!”
And then I thought about what it really meant.
And a part of me felt short of breath, a part of me felt elated, and a part of me felt…terrified.
You see, my dreams are big, and they do scare me…and I try to pretend they don’t. But I suppose the big secret to being willing to dream is being willing to follow through, no matter how scary it might seem.
Years ago, whilst in the presence of some very wise folk, I was told that FEAR is really
The first time I heard that, my heart stopped for a moment, and when it restarted, it went at hyperspeed.
You see, I grew up feeling I was always on the outside looking in. It’s not a unique experience, although I wish it was. Not because I want to be a martyr, but because it SHOULD be a unique experience, in my mind.
I grew up feeling that way because I grew up very poor. My second grade teacher bought me my first raincoat. My elementary school made special provisions to accept me at the school well prior to anyone else, so that they might give me some breakfast without the other students knowing. I am the child of two parents who loved me with their whole hearts, but couldn’t love eachother. As a result, and due to the “legal perception of proper parenting” at the time (and that is in quotes for a good reason), I was kept in the care of the one parent who was least able to truly care for a child. Now, do not misunderstand, it was not for lack of love or desire, it was for lack of ability. She was not well, and that is the most honest way to describe it. Her perception was skewed, her concept of mothering from a foreign place. She was not evil, she was altered. She was wired differently. It was only after several years of my own feet walking the earth that I finally came to understand that, and find some peace.
You see, in my view, a child cannot and should not be able to understand mental illness. The unfortunate reality is that many times, a child must understand just that, in any way they can. So, as my parents divorced in 1978, when I was 5, the concept in the courts at the time was that the child should stay with the mother. And whilst my father did everything he could to change that, that is where I stayed.
Now, as a boon from the difficulties, by the time I was 14 I spoke three languages fluently. I never perceived something new as “I cannot do that.” However I did believe, fervently, that I was somehow alien. I had missed some instruction manual to life. As an 8 year old I could relate to 40 year olds and discuss anthropological theories and philosophical doctrine…but I could never understand why purple was the “IN” color, or why everyone thought I was weird.
Of course, I was surrounded by children. Who don’t understand what is different. The only differences I ever really had was that I was poor and that my mother was ill. My clothes were out of fashion, I was skinny and I didn’t understand other kids…well, I was weird. I celebrate that weirdness now, and the strengths that came from my childhood, but it did leave some scars along with the blessings.
It left me wondering why I should have things. And as I went through my early years “things” translated directly to security. I wasn’t a normal kid who would make a list of “wants” for Santa. I was a kid that knew hunger, and cold, and living in a car. In many ways this prepared me for the “real world.” The difference between NEED and WANT was very clear. Like I said, this is something that is very unfortunately a common experience. I truly wish I could say it was my own, but that would be ignorant.
So, feelings of security were folly, purely because my Ma was driven by whimsey and a vivid imagination and, yes, true madness at times that meant that constancy, predictability….my perception of “security,” were things best not counted on.
So what happened?
I became someone who out of necessity learned that adaptability was key. You never knew who would greet you in the morning, so put on a brave face and find the willingness to roll with it. To demand something to be a particular way was futile.
My mother had a very real concept of “THEY.” They were very real, and always just at the door. As a result, I became someone who rebelled at the idea of Chicken Little. I just refused to believe that things were always bound for destruction, it was just too exhausting. I discovered the concept of cautious optimism, and that worked for me. And it still does.
But now, as an adult with several decades under my belt, I find some of that preparation for unpredictability still sticks.
Things go very well in life for me, and I find myself richer than I thought I could be. And when I talk about rich I’m not talking about money, although I do ok on that front. For me being rich is to find myself in a job I enjoy that enjoys having me do it, but mostly to find myself surrounded by a family across the globe, both inherited and discovered, that helps me walk when I am weak and encourages me further when I am strong. Yet I find myself nervous about that – anxious that these things might suddenly go away…that this is too much, this is too rich, and surely it cannot last.
I find my dreams create my nightmares…if I let them.
Dreams should be big…the plans we make for ourselves will inevitably fall short of what is possible. We shall never know what we are actually capable of, not if we’re truly honest with ourselves. If we think we do, then we think we have nothing left to learn, and that is true poverty.
So go forth, dream big, and if it’s scary, then you must be doing something right.
The safest path will always cheat us of our best…the best that we don’t even know we can deliver.
Do your dreams scare you? I hope they do — for I believe I am finally beginning to learn that scary dreams that you are willing to still reach for are the true sign of wealth.