I think we hit a point in life where we stop dreaming. We give up the sitting and wondering and fantasizing of “what if” and “maybe someday” or even the “some day I will…”. We get caught up with practical and realistic and being reasonable of what we should, and can, expect out of life.
When I was 16 I sat in my living room with a friend and an atlas open on the floor and we marked out the route we would take after graduation. The countries we wanted to see and travel and all the places that we would visit. For weeks we would plan and discuss and dream. There were times that I thought it might not happen but I believed it would. Really believed it. Then life curved off the path of that choosing. A year and a half later I was getting married and a year and half after that I was having my first son and that atlas was firmly tucked away in my bookshelf.
The next 20 years saw a lot of changes and a lot of moves and that atlas always got packed up and moved along with me though. Everytime I took it off the shelf to pack it, I would open it up and trace the marker lines on the maps and get a little more sad that I wasn’t going to get to see those places and experience what I wanted to. What was happening was a slow and very steady creeping of surrendering. Giving up. Letting the little doubt grow and take hold until even looking at the cover of that atlas made me melancholy about what wasn’t going to be.
Life was busy and full and I loved it. Raising my kids and working and volunteering kept me so busy that dreams took a seat so far removed from “real life” that they ceased to exist anymore for me.
Then came a point that I started to realize that without those dreams, life was becoming heavy and dark in some way – especially at a time that it should have been lighter. The boys were getting older and a marriage that wasn’t right was over and it was time to sit and take a hard look at what I wanted and what was needed. So the small dreams started. Maybe a weekend trip with my boys. Someplace realistic still but a dream all the same. So a plan was made and we did it. It felt good to see that maybe there was that elusive thing still there – hope – hope that a dream can come to fruition.
Then life took a sidestep again. This time, a big enough slam to knock me off the track completely.
A decision to rebuild life and move forward in a new direction and in a new city brought me to packing again. This time, I picked up that atlas – the book with the dreams I had had for 25 years – dreams that no matter how unattainable they felt, always sat there deep inside of me, a small sliver of “maybe some day” always there. I picked up that atlas and there was no sliver of “maybe some day” left. It was just gone. Defeated and gone. After packing that atlas around for almost 25 years, I threw it out.
The last three and a half years have seen me have days of starting to dream again, starting to think of “maybe some day” – but it has always been so short lived as to be almost not there. Those moments have been met with such grief and mourning of the loss of belief and hope that anything could come to pass that it was too hurtful to even think of dreaming.
Moments here and there of plan making or looking forward always hit hard inside my head of a practical response of why bother dreaming when it isn’t going to happen anyways. Like the game of what would you do if you won a million dollars, I was at the point of who cares – it’s pointless conjecture and the reality is what you have and where you are is it. So stop dreaming. Friends would make small talk and we would sit and say “where would you go if you could go anywhere?” and my internal response was always why bother answering – it won’t happen and it’ just torture to dream when it won’t happen anyways. Simple.
The last few months though something has started to shift. Spending time with a special someone who is helping me remember what it’s like to dream and fantasize and think “what if”. Even if it is just silly and will never come to pass most likely – it’s still fun and it still makes me smile – if I let it. This weekend, an hour spent together, curled up dreaming and thinking and letting imaginations and wishes run wild for a bit, that feeling so long forgotten, and so good to feel again. So good to dream again. And who knows, maybe someday…it’s been too long since I’ve thought that and let myself believe it. Feels good.