Do you have a dream? Can you state it in on sentence? Is it posted somewhere you can see it every day so it stays in-sight, in-mind? A young father with two children told me he doesn’t dream anymore because it’s “too painful.” He said he has so many responsibilities, he’s just putting one foot in front of the other and trying to get through the day.
Ouch. I told him, “Dreaming costs nothing. Not dreaming costs everything.”
I told him I too was once “too busy” to dream.
Then, while driving along the Pacific Coast Highway near Santa Barbara on my way to give a workshop … an idea wanted to be born.
Well, if there’s anything I learned from emceeing the Maui Writers Conference for 17 years, it’s INK IT WHEN YOU THINK IT. They don’t call them fleeting thoughts for nothing. If an idea want to be born, we need to jot that thought while it’s hot.
So, I pulled over, and here’s what poured out. (Really. You can’t make this stuff up.)
“Some people are drawn to fire. I am drawn to water. After all, we are 65 percent water. It is our essence, our lifeblood. All of us are bodies of water.
Yet, as Maslow pointed out, water is a fulfilled need. And fulfilled needs tend to get overlooked and taken for granted.
Water wants a voice. Water needs a voice. I will be that voice.
So it is I will set out on my Year by the Water on October 1.
I will spend every week by a different body of water. Each week will have a theme. Can we really not step in the same river twice? Does salt water — the sea, sweat and tears — really cure what ails us? Why can’t we collect all the shells on the beach?
I will pull a ‘Charles Kuralt’ and interview people along the way — surfers, swimmers, sailors.
I am clear I am not supposed to control this, I am supposed to set this in motion and cooperate with what comes. Instead of planning it, I'm supposed to do the opposite of my always and partner with what wants to happen.
And so it is.”
Well! I realized how fortunate I was to have a “calling” downloaded to me – with a name and start date no less – so I answered the call.
In retrospect, I think I was so ready and willing to act on this dream because of something my son said a few months before when he had had called to check in.
Andrew sensed something in my voice and asked, “Whazzup?”
I told him, “I have to take the red-eye to DC and then fly back to San Francisco on Friday to keynote a convention. I'm so exhausted, I don’t know how I’m going to do it.”
He said, “Mom, there’s something about you I don’t understand. You’re your own boss. You have your own business. You can do what you want, but you’re not taking advantage of it. Why don’t I book you a hotel? You can stay there the next few days and then just fly up to SF on Friday.”
Out of the mouths of twenty-somethings. Andrew was right. There was no one forcing me to get on that red-eye. Why wasn’t I being more creative with my life?
An hour later, I went to sleep in the Laguna Beach Hotel with the sounds of the waves outside my window.
The next day, I played hooky. I threw on my backpack and went exploring. I was drawn, as if by a magnet, to Laguna Beach bookstore and its books for writers by writers.
As I immersed myself in the inspiring words of Julia Cameron, Anne Lamott and Stephen King, a voice welled up in me and whispered, “I am a writer. That’s what I am.”
But I was caught up in the consultant-creative conundrum. I had filled my days facilitating other people’s work instead of focusing on my own.
Paulo Coelho says, “One day you’re going to wake up and there won’t be any time left to do the things you’ve always wanted to do.”
What had I always wanted to do? Write. Be around water. Explore the world.
And the good news was, I could do all that WHILE earning a good living … if I just got creative about it.
This wasn’t an either-or situation. I could have the best of both worlds if I blended my passion and profession instead of seeing them as separate. The Year by the Water was a way to do that.
What’s the point?
Dreams don’t have to be in the far-off future. They don’t have to be something we do when we’re not so busy, when our responsibilities are done.
Dreams can fulfilled right, here, right now … if we get creative and combine our calling with our career.
How about you?
What is something you've always wanted to do - that you've been waiting to do?
What is a dream you could launch that would result in a satisfying “I DID IT!” that would contribute to your quality of life now, not someday?
Where haven’t you been – what haven’t you seen – that would be meaningful, rewarding?
How can you get creative and combine what's calling you with your career?
Put a date on the calendar for doing it NOW.
You will never regret doing more of what puts the light on in your eyes – you will only regret not doing it sooner.
Want more inspiration? Check out this related post - You're Never Too OLD for NEW Dreams.