He looks to be in his early 90s. He is well-dressed in a suit, white shirt and a tie. I watch as he approaches one of the many others who wait their turn at Wheaton Eye Clinic. He asks a woman across from me a question and then hands her a paper. Now he turns around and heads towards me. I think he is going to hand me a religious pamphlet. He’s proselytizing.
Standing in front of me, his kind eyes look deeply into mine. He says, “Do you like poetry?” I was not expecting this question. I reply with a hesitant “Yes.” Where might this conversation lead? He hands me an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet with several typed poems. I don’t remember seeing his name anywhere on the sheet. I began reading his words. He walks away.
C.S. Lewis, the British writer and theologian wrote, “I sometimes think that shame, mere awkward, senseless shame, does as much toward preventing good acts and straightforward happiness as any of our vices can do.”
Is that what stops us from living a dream? Do we fear looking foolish and let that get in the way?
In 1991 I began leading the Dare to Dream workshop. That workshop let many of us look clearly at the future we wished to live. As a therapist so much of my focus was on how past events influenced who we are. Yet, clearly our future also shapes us. Whether it is buying a new home, becoming a parent, going to college, choosing a career. Those upcoming events begins to form us in our present day lives. That was the theme of these workshops.
Many of the women I work with teach me so much.
First, it’s very darn hard to identify your dream when you spend your life focused on others. Yet, your longing is still there even if it’s been buried under years of thinking only of others. It takes paying careful attention to what calls to you.
Second, fear doesn’t disappear. Fear is our companion when we are showing up and stepping out in a new way. If we wait for it to dissipate we won’t move forward.
Third, Hold the future of your dream loosely. Let the outcome unfold. It may take a totally different shape than you expected. I have experienced this multiple times. Each step we make lets us know where to move next. Keep your eye off of the outcome and stay connected to your own longing.
Fourth, Age is often one thing that gets in our way. At 69 my first book was published. It appears that at 78 my first documentary will be premiered. Over these last years, I’ve learned a thing or two about following your dreams. Thinking we are too old or too anything can block us. Life is too precious to waste on false beliefs. Be inspired by those who have kept dreaming well into old age. There are many described online.
Many seniors dream of writing a book. It is a daunting task. The elderly gentleman handing out his work must have had a longing to share his poetry. That’s what I’m guessing. Maybe he dreamed of publishing a book. I will never know.
When we take our eyes off the outcome and focus on longing then different options appear. Maybe we won’t be published. That is an outcome. The desire to share our work with others may find expression in another form. His words on a crisp white sheet of paper was his way of sharing. His actions demonstrate a powerful message.
If you take your eye off of the outcome of your actions and put attention on your longing what might happen?
Choose wisely what you picture as your future.