Have you ever had so many active dreams for your life that you might as well have been paralyzed for all the progress you made toward fulfilling any of them? If so, you’re not alone.
Since publishing Dream Repair Shop in 2010, I’ve had dozens of requests from people who want a sequel along the lines of the Dreamer Overhaul Shop. Not just a bit of paint and polish. Not just refining the details or the timing.
These folks have three or four, ten or twelve or, in one case, a neatly written list of 317 dreams, each of which a middle-aged man wants to experience during the rest of what he hopes is a very long life. Some of them want instructions for how to merge their several or many dreams into a single all-encompassing life. “Tell me how I can live lots of these dreams at once, please,” begged the man with the long list.
I had to tell him, “I don’t know how to do that.”
Not my favorite phrase to say, to hear, or even to think. Something about the words “I don’t know” that has long puzzled me is how they can act as a very strong magnet for almost any subject. How they often start a corner of my mind down a path it never considered before, from which I receive bulletins now and again.
These are the resulting observations, not directions, from a long-time dreamer fortunate enough to have lived quite a few of those dreams. From someone who plans to live more of them. Who has long loved hearing about other people’s dreams — past, present and future.
1. Some dreams are selfish. They require such a huge concentration of energy, time, attention and/or resources that the dreamers who manage to live those dreams have little or nothing left for anything else — a job, a family, a community or, even more important in my thinking, a next dream.
2. Other dreams are more socially acceptable. A dream of being the best mother possible for her children leaves room for that woman to live other dreams also – as daughter, sister, wife, friend, and quite possibly also of a career beyond her family. The same is true for a man, also, as father, brother, friend, husband, career.
3. I’ve been sometimes amused and other times annoyed by people who told me writing was not a worthy dream for me. Some of them told me to get over thinking of myself as a writer and GROW UP. No can do. Not the most elegant writerly way to say it, but I have been a writer since before I can remember. As busy and varied as my imagination is, I cannot conceive of a life in which I’m not writing. My suspicion is that many other people have that sort of dream – not necessarily that they are a writer, but that they are something that matters to their emotional, physical, spiritual and mental well-being.
Imagine our lack if Picasso or Georgia O’Keefe or Andrew Wyeth had listened to someone telling them not to paint, to do something more socially acceptable with their energy and time. If Stravinski or Charlie Parker or Kris Kristofferson or Edith Piaf or Daryl Spadaccini had followed anyone’s advice to get a grip, quit playing around with music and do something USEFUL. If Rumi had never written poetry.
4. Some dreams are static — “I will live in this town forever.” Others are in constant flux – “I am a gypsy and must move on continually to a next place, then another, then more for the rest of my life.”
5. Some people spend entire lifetimes not knowing anything about their dreams. If it didn’t feel like stomping on someone’s dream, I would hope you’re not one of those folks, as that feels a lonely life from my perspective.
6. Some of us stack up far more dreams than we’re likely to finish in this lifetime. Do the ones we don’t get around to wait for us in a next life? I have no idea. I know, though, the sublimely unpressured pleasure of dreaming when there’s no particular attachment to whether the dream ever happens.
I also know the different pleasure of stacking up dream after dream into a to-do list that changes order at will and on which I love to check things off as completed. There is yet another kind of pleasure in adding more dreams to that list.
7. In my world, dreams move around. They don’t sit still any better than I do, so they converge and diverge, fit together well today, then next week may repel each other.
Converging dreams have become a big part of my last few months. More about them later.