Thursday, June 12, 2008
My Rules of Life---Part Eight
The Dream Book
I thought to wind the series up with this post. I could add a lot more of my ‘rules' but won’t for the sake of brevity.
Interestingly enough, I’ve been receiving a few private emails on this series and I’m only too happy to offer a compassionate ear and a sharing of my own life story. I never deem to give advice as everyone’s journey is so different and it’s always a question of finding one’s own way through life with the answers rolling in of their own accord.
At least that’s how it was for me.
I call them the 2 X 4’s of life – and I’ve been thwacked over the head by them on more than one occasion. There’s nothing like pain to grab my attention and force me to change – my outlook, attitude and circumstances.
I started to write an observation book one time on this whole concept of clinging – whether it is to a person, a place, or stuff. Or pre-conceived ideas. I’ve seen the clinger cling so tight to the ‘clingee’ that it either literally or metaphorically explodes. I’ve seen people stay in unhappy partnerships and heard both sides of the reasons. Which don’t amount to a hill of beans really but involve keeping him or her ‘happy’ or ‘secure’ while the other partner says the same thing. And there you have it – two desperately unhappy people clinging for dear life to the false concept of each other’s happiness until the whole thing implodes, as it inevitably does.
I had a dear friend clinging to her house as it represented the only security she had. She couldn’t afford to take a holiday or go to the theatre as any spare change went to paying down the mortgage. Then her house caught fire with the insurance company paying for the fortune in repairs less the deductible. This was followed within a year by the house being flooded. All the new ceramic tiles peeled off the walls and the floors like yesterday’s newspaper.
At this point she said f*** it. I’m just going to have a good time. And she did. And she’s never been happier.
In my time I clung to dreadful jobs and desperate relationships, friends who betrayed me and poor real estate choices. I would take care of you long before I would take care of me. I slowly learned that life was not about clinging to stuff but about realizing dreams. And the amazing thing was that the dreams didn't have to cost much materially and most were actually free.
About fifteen years ago I heard of the concept of The Dream Book. One buys a large blank journal and proceeds to go through it all page by page, each page headed with a dream. No matter how silly, infantile or hopeless seeming.
I felt a little foolish, taking all those pages and listing a dream on each one, some were childish, some were what I thought impossible.
Part of the process is on the first day of each month I go through each and every single dream and if there has been an effort to achieve even a minuscule part of that dream I write it down. It reinforces my belief that anything, literally anything can happen to make these private ephemeral thoughts come closer to a reality.
For instance, one of my pages said “Write”. I hadn’t written anything apart from my journal since high school.
I followed this with what I had written, where I had submitted it and then my first publication about ten years ago as a columnist in an Irish magazine.
Then my short story collection was picked up by a publisher, my cards were ready for sale, I had a win in a recent Irish poetry competition and a recent request from a new paper here to do a column for them. I write all these things down on the page to reinforce the power of the dream once it gets focussed on every month and then making room for it to move into my life.
Another page said “Open Up Kitchen”. I’d always had these tiny hemmed in kitchens and I love to cook. So I saved my money and a couple of years before I sold the Toronto house I had a wall taken down to open up the kitchen. And one of the first jobs I had done in this old house was to, yes: you guessed it, take down the wall between the kitchen and the dining room. It’s symptomatic of opening up my life.
You get the idea. I’ve a hundred dreams (for now) in all stages of development and on a bad day I can look inside the book and realize, hey, there is some magic after all, I did run that marathon in my fifties!