I remember 28 years ago bounding into my parents’ bedroom at what I’m certain was some ungodly hour of the morning begging to know if I had turned four-years old yet. This far removed from that date, I can no longer recall the answer to my question. What I do remember vividly though is the excitement I felt that day. I was filled with imagination, hope, and dreams of the future.
Yesterday, I turned 32. It’s a seemingly insignificant age when compared to 16, 21, and 30. However, in my life, its significance does not go unnoticed. Why is it so important? It marks another year gone by in which I feel as though I accomplished very little toward making my great vision a reality. Each year that passes makes it harder for me to see this beautiful dream come to fruition. I haven’t given up (and I won’t), but it’s difficult to not become discouraged.
I think often of that little four-year old girl, and I wonder if I’ve let her down. I wonder if I’ve let my 32-year old self down. I’ve had a hell of a lot of missteps along the way – ones that continue to impact my life. I don’t want these to define me, but honestly, sometimes they do. Sometimes, it feels as though I’m not worthy of my vision, that no matter how much effort I put toward it, it’ll never happen. But still, I continue on, because I know that this right here, right now is not enough. I was made for more.
Now, I am 32. Sixteen is gone, as is 21 and 30. No matter how much I wish I could go back and change so many things about my life, all I have is this. What I choose to do with this year will shape the rest of my life, of that I am certain. So, here’s to you 32! May you be the year that sees this grand vision come to life!
I grew up in the farmlands of Eastern North Carolina. It’s beautiful country, really. From the time I was born to the moment I left for college at 18, I lived in the same house. From kindergarten through my high school graduation, I went to the same school. From infancy through age 13, I attended the same church. The common theme? Sameness.
For many people, this “sameness” is comforting and even preferable, but for a wild imagination and a restless heart, it’s a burden. I didn’t always see things this way, but as I became more aware of myself and my desires, that sameness became unbearable. My heart craved more – more adventure, more romance, more…well, of pretty much everything. I am a soul never fully satisfied.
One day, I imagine this restless heart will find its true happiness and settle down, but for now, it’s wild and free and on the search for something different. Gone are the days when I could sit idly by and allow sameness to dominate my life. Everyone, whether they choose to admit it or not, longs for a great adventure. Some step bravely onto that open road and embrace the unknown. Others choose to be paralyzed by fear. It is my desire that I will courageously take on that mysterious path and at its end find peace for this restless heart.
I’ve seen the above quote quite a bit lately, and to be honest, it’s not something I’m very good at. When I look at my life and the current circumstances, all those voices telling me to “get your head out of the clouds” come roaring back. It’s not a whisper or a hint; it is a shout and a fact. There is no doubt in these voices. They are steady and sure. It is me alone who begins to doubt my dreams and my vision.
A few months ago, I had a conversation with an acquaintance concerning my vision. As I’ve mentioned before, it is bold, to be sure, but it is my joy and the culmination of my truest self. This individual asked me the equivalent of this question: “If you aren’t happy and this isn’t what you want, then what do you want?” The answer is simple, the explanation not as much. I laid out my vision as generically as I could, hoping this person would see the light come into my eyes as so many others have when I speak of my great dream. However, instead of excitement, what I received was skepticism. “That doesn’t sound like reality; that sounds like nothing but a dream.” I had heard it before. Actually, I had heard it before from this very same individual. It hurt nonetheless.
I spent days broken and feeling generally beaten up. I starting doubting, buying into reality and allowing my vision to slip by the wayside. Then, I started to see things for what they really were. This person had never attempted anything daring. This individual had always “played it safe”. I can even recall asking at one point, “Didn’t you ever have something you hoped for, something really big that you knew had to be a part of your life?” The response? “No, not really.” It was said in the most passive, uninterested tone you could imagine. I understood then that this person would never fully understand me or my vision.
For years, I have allowed small minds to make decisions for me. I’ve pretty much stuck to the standard, always following the status quo. Now, I know why I never was happy and why, as long as I follow that path, I never will be. People who refuse to dream can’t understand those who do. I know I was made to live out this vision, and I’ll be damned if I let one more small mind tell me I can’t.
My evenings these days all look basically the same. You will typically find me with a good book in my lap and a cup of chamomile tea steaming away in my hand. No, it’s not a very exciting life, but for right now, it is mine.
I would love my days and nights to be filled with adventure and excitement. I would love to travel and see the world. (I’d even settle for just seeing more of America than my own backyard.) I admire and, yes, envy the free spirits who can leave a “normal” life behind and create their own rules for living. I get overwhelmed by traditions, standards, and the status quo just as much as those free spirits, but they have the courage I lack.
However, it’s not just a lack of courage that keeps my feet planted in this red North Carolina clay. For this moment, this is my place. I don’t always like it, and honestly, there are times I loathe it. I try to make the most of this life, but sometimes it just takes too much effort to fake a smile. What keeps me going is my dream, my vision. It is big, it is bold, it is joy to the fullest, and it, too, is mine. For some reason, God or the Universe (or whatever you choose to call this greater force) hasn’t granted me fulfillment. This right here, right now, is my place, my moment, my life.
So, here I sit, with my chamomile tea in a mug hand-crafted by a fellow creative reading a paperback memoir of someone else’s exciting life, and I’m okay. Because while it might not be the incredible life I hope to live someday, for right now, it is mine.