Daring to Dream- Reflections of an Ex-Naysayer
Warning: this article contains strong inspirational language that may offend realists, naysayers and general piss-on-paraders. Recommended for those seeking to fan the flames of their dreams, live a life of true purpose and value and transform themselves in the process.
I have a confession to make.
I am a naysayer in recovery.
You see, following dreams, going after your hearts desires, dreaming big… sometimes depending on my mood this type of thing can feel a bit too good to be true.
When I come home from work tired; when I have to cook for the week; when I have the food shopping and the cleaning to do, you will have to forgive me for saying ´yeh whatever!´ to that inspirational quote that appears on my Instagram feed or for rolling my eyes at that person who enthusiastically proclaims on Facebook that ´we must live our best life!´, and that ´the time is now!´.
When exhausted by the day to day grind of daily life, I must confess that the secret naysayer within may inwardly (or outwardly depending on how long my day has been) say in that dry British way: Oh piss off!´.
However, truth be told, deep down in my heart I know that it´s true.
Our dreams are important, we have more to give and to discover, we have unexplored potential- if only we had the time to discover it…
And this knowing, either conscious or unconscious is the real thing that pisses me off.
If not treated quickly and swiftly, naysaying can have dangerous consequences for the dreamer.
It starts off as an uncomfortable feeling somewhere on the inside, but if left to fester too long it can soon turn into a growing pool of bitterness that if not tended to, later becomes a rancour that sours the taste of life so intensely that the happy-go-lucky youngster becomes that nasty bitter old person that likes to piss on everyone’s parade and make everyone miserable.
And how do I how know this?
Because it started happening to me.
Pissing on the Parade
As I described in my first post, my daily routine of journeys on the metro and the long workday had left me feeling trapped, depleted and uninspired.
And when we feel uninspired, the world seems uninspiring. When we are grey inside, the world outside also looks grey. As within, so without.
And when I heard about people in Madrid involved in interesting projects related to the things that I had originally dreamed of doing, I got a bolt of jealous bitterness that manifested as a thought such as: ‘Haven’t they got a job to go to?’ or ‘Alright for those that don’t work full-time’ or ‘Alright for some- I’ve got work to do’.
But let’s be honest, we all know where I would have chosen to be.
I even admit to thinking at one point, ‘Well it’s a stupid project anyway. It’s not enough to change the world. Nice try, nice idea but it’s never going to work’.
When really this was a very cool project involving bringing more greenery to the city by planting flowers in the base of trees in the street and anyone who knows me will know that this is exactly my cup of tea!
Really this was the work of my precious ego trying to defend against the pain of not doing the things that I really wanted to be doing.
Recovering from onset naysayism
Fast track two years later and here I am forging a new path in the direction of my radical dream…and now, funnily enough, I have found myself on the receiving end of some of this ego defence from others who without being aware of it consciously, have pissed a little bit on my parade!
Or maybe they were just being practical and realistic and only had my best interests at heart. Either way, when met with this kind of attitude, how do you retain your own belief in your dreams and keep on going regardless?
We are so quick to cave in, to agree with that voice that tells us that it can’t be done and we retreat wounded vowing never to put ourselves in such vulnerable position again.
I have spread my dreams under your feet.
Tread softly because you tread on my dreamsY.B Yeats
So then, in honour of all those dreamers out there, I am going to share with you some of my musings on this subject from over the last 6 months since I started spreading my dreams under the feet of the world wide web.
“Anything that I have ever done that has been of value people have called crazy”.
This is a Facebook comment left by someone in response to my article ‘An off-grid life with 14k-is it possible?’. A comment that I immediately liked and resonated with. Just a single line but somehow I sensed that it contained a deeper truth that was worth mulling over for a little while.
First of all, the idea of ‘being of value’.
What is of value and to whom?
Who decides what is of value and what isn’t?
Secondly, who decides what is crazy and what isn’t? And how much truth is there in this label?
How many ‘crazy’ people of the past were labelled crazy and now they are considered a genius? People used to think the world was flat, remember- imagine!
For me, it is we who are responsible for deciding what is of value for us and what isn’t.
All too often we limit ourselves to dreaming as big as our society and culture have taught us to dream. The result of which is that our dreams remain in the 3rd division, which can have its fun moments but let’s be honest, what kind of match would you prefer to play in, one from the third division or the premier league?
The problem is that most of us don’t even realize that the premier league exists!
Imagine the delight and amazement of the football fan, who after being long accustomed to watching the mediocracy of the 3rd division, suddenly gets an invite to a game in the premier league- and not just watching it but playing in it?!
This is us.
The ones who have been used to expecting little from this grand game we call life. Like a pigeon not looking up from the ground as they go in search of crumbs, we go through life believing that the house, the good job, the car is all there is to be aspired to.
The funny thing is we have been invited the premier league all along, but we have been far too busy looking for crumbs that we didn’t RSVP to the invitation.
Luckily for us, the invitation doesn’t expire. The door is always open, we just need to have the courage to walk through it.
But after we accept the invitation, how do we get ourselves to the premier league?
I would say that the best question to ask ourselves is ‘What could I do with my life that will really, truly be of value to myself? What is the most truly meaningful thing for me that I could dedicate my life force to?’.
Would the answer make me look crazy in the eyes of others? In the eyes of society?
Maybe ‘crazy’ here could also be substituted for ‘unsuccessful’ or ‘unimportant’.
Would following your dreams make you look unsuccessful and unimportant at that high school reunion or when meeting your partners family for the first time?
And the real question, are you going to let that stop you from doing what would really give your life true value and purpose?
Deep, Sacred Dreams
But how do you know what could bring true value and purpose to your life? Sure it sounds great, but how do we arrive at the place?
For me, it is to be found in the things that light you up on the inside, that ignite a passion in you, that set something alight within you.
It is that quiet longing, dying to be given the attention it needs to flourish.
I guess the problem so many of us have is that we have spent so much of our lives running from here to there, with one obligation after another to fulfil, that we haven´t had the time to fully explore these secret cravings of the heart.
But I say let’s not wait for retirement to scratch those itches.
Or for another round of lockdown to make us stop and focus on what is really of value to us.
For me, it is the longing to go back to the land and forge a new path of permaculture and off-grid living, but it could also be the doctor who dreams of writing poetry, the engineer who longs for the theatre, or the high-flying corporate director who dreams of ditching the suit in favour of the bohemian life of a wandering hippy.
By the same token, it could also be the farmer who dreams of creating their own tech start-up; the teacher who dreams of going into business, the cleaner who wants to become a lawyer.
Our dreams and desires are as unique as we are, but if left abandoned and neglected, like a plant they begin to wilt and shrivel up, and before you know it you reach a point where you have a faint feeling that you are missing something…
In this case, life may look good from the outside, but really it is nothing but a hollow shell of social prescriptions that have failed to do what they had originally promised us when we set out to accomplish them in earnest, back when we were young, fresh-faced and straight out of school or university.
But somehow you can’t quite put your finger on what it is that you are missing and no amount of good food, fine wine or luxury holidays seem to help.
Like a word that is on the tip of your tongue but impossible to retrieve, so become the dreams of our youth.
And the truth is that you have missed something- the whole point of your unique existence on this Earth.
I truly believe that every human walking this earth has numerous gifts to offer, and a specific purpose to carry out on the planet, if we so desire.
I say ‘if we so desire’ because, at the end of the day, it is up to us to steer the ship of our lives. We have free will- we get to decide who we want to be and who we want to become.
Yes, our life situation and condition may set the course initially, and we all know that there are many life circumstances that are far more conducive than others when it comes to these high ideals such as following dreams- mine for example.
However, I wouldn’t want to do such a disservice to any human being as to say that because they are in a less privileged situation than others, their dreams are not important or that they don’t have anything worthwhile to contribute, or their situation is so difficult that they should give up trying.
The nature of a dream
Maybe it is important to point out that a dream is not an end goal, something that you accomplish and put a tick next to. A true, authentic dream is made up of a multi-layered and multi-faceted vision, ever-evolving and transforming as we evolve and transform with it and through it.
It is not a job title, or a career path, something that can be neatly defined and put into a box.
A dream is something that you inhabit, a path that you walk, something that you are true to every day.
I have a ‘dream’ of living off-grid, but really this does not do my vision justice. Living off-grid is just the tiniest part of it- the true vision is impossible to express in words. I can only point to it, my words are nothing but a signpost as to the way I want to live my life and who I want to become.
Neither do dreams have to be grand things that could bring success, power and fortune. Dreams can be the smallest action, the most simple of desires, the most every day of things.
The point is that it is the deeper meaning that we infuse our lives with that really brings the sense of value. It is a sense of living our lives in accordance with our deepest truth, whatever that may be for each one of us individually.
The tough part is getting to that authentic truth. It is a place that many who have come and gone before us have not been able to find. But you can tell those who have because they have a light in their eyes and a solidness about them. They somehow transmit their authenticity, maybe without even a single word.
These people are the light-bearers amongst us, even when clothed in the most ordinary of robes.
The road to fulfilling our dreams of the path of courage, of authenticity and of audacity. It the path of passion, of energy and joy. It is not for the faint-hearted.
On walking down this path you will find joy, meaning and value, but you may also find yourself swimming against the tide (maybe in some peoples’ lives this could be literal as well as metaphorical), breaking out of societal conditioning and bumping up against fear.
But it is the path of self-transformation.
This is the path of fulfilling our potential, of bringing our fullest expression of our soul into human form.
But for this to happen we must first turn inwards in order to clear away the chaff, the limiting beliefs, and old ideas about who we are and what we are capable of.
It may mean throwing off the cloak of our culture that may be weighing us down and discovering what is there once you get down to the bare bones of who you are.
And once you arrive at that magic place, suddenly everything becomes clear and you are confused no more.
It is from this space of the true self that we can really go about getting to know the true the desires and longings of our soul.
Working towards a dream- premier league style
And once you have a clear vision for your life that you want to create? What next? How do you go about bringing it into the world?
One comment from my post ‘expecting the unexpected and embracing fear’ offers us some advice:
“A dream remains a dream until you make a plan.
Then the dream becomes a reality. A mission statement, just like the contract you wrote in a previous blog is really important for when you have fear. Stop, read your contract/mission statement, gain strength and clarity of thought, and move forward again.
Try and make each day a step forward, try not to have ‘zero days’, which are days you do nothing to achieve your dream.”.
The path is seen by walking it
For me right now, my plan may still be a little hazy but the further I walk down this path, the clearer it seems to become. I guess we only see the details as we continue walking- what the details of the journey look like in another 6 months are not relevant right now.
Just the stretch that is immediately in front of us is where our attention needs to be.
However, truth be told there are days when I ‘do’ nothing towards this dream. Maybe this could look like a ‘zero-day’ from the outside, but it is constantly there in the background, envisioning, desiring, dreaming, plotting and planning, waiting for that bolt of inspiration to happen that shows me what step I need to take next.
Let’s not wait for old age or another pandemic to help us recover the things that are truly important to us.
Let’s play this game of life- premier league style!
A big thank you to Angie Scarr for the wise comment at the beginning of the article from which this post sprung.
Also another big thank you to Mark for leaving such a helpful and insightful comment on the blog, under the post ´Expecting the Unexpected and Embracing Fear´.
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Olivia, you write so beautifully, you should try to get the article published in a magazine. x
Thanks Mum 🙂 hehehe. One step at a time!
Never give up on your dreams
Beautiful post! I loved reading it!
It’s so amazing how one can plant a seed of an idea, a dream, and start taking action, which might include reading, talking with others, creating things, that are in alignment with the dream.
What you said about the end goal being hazy evoked an image in my mind of walking; as we move in a forward trajectory the details in the distance that at one time we could not see become clearer until we are amongst them, and this birthing of a dream and moving towards it feels like that!
My dear brother-in-law this winter gave me a much needed pep-talk which ended in making a sort of oath that I would take “proactive baby steps”, which became such a simple but effective reminder to not rush but keep an eye on where I was going. And I’ve come a long way!
Thank you for this beautiful and inspiring writing <3
Thanks a lot, Aurelie for the share and the insights. So glad you liked the post! I agree with what you said about not rushing, ´proactive baby steps´. We want everything straight away but forget the process. Now I´m beginning to see that it´s just a process really, for of beginnings and endings, punctuated with mountain tops that we can´t stay too long on top of before we get bored and want to move on to something else.
As always, best of luck with your baby proactive steps, I have no doubt that you will climb the mountains that you need to climb and have an enriching time doing it 😀
When I read your posts I envision a child waiting on the street for the sweet shop to open. You are staring at the door and there is no open/closed sign. The truth is that the sweet shop has been open for a long time; you just need to push on the door and enter. 🙂
Could be Paul! Could be! I´m just following the whims of my inspiration and intuition and trusting the process.
Thanks for the comment!