In September, I took Andrea Scher’s wonderful online class, Mondo Beyondo, which is all about dreaming BIG and then making your big dreams come true. I took it in part because the day after I subscribed to her blog, Andrea ran a sale, offering all her classes for about 60% off their original price. It seemed like a sign, so I enrolled, not knowing what to expect but knowing that my dreams (and the way I think of myself as an artist) had changed dramatically over the past year. They felt fragile and uncertain in that way that fledgling dreams often do.
So I took Andrea’s class and it was just what I needed. I learned a lot about me. For instance, I learned that I’m a safe dreamer. I set goals I’m pretty sure I can reach, and then I build dreams around them.
Or, I did.
Now I think that’s a terrible way to dream. It’s not even a good way to set goals. It limits me right from the outset by staying within the bounds of what I believe I can achieve. I assume it’s a form of subconscious self-protection. If I want only what’s within my reach, I’ll be far less disappointed in life. But, of course, you can see the problem with that way of thinking. I’ll also be less challenged, less realized, less impassioned, less… giddy.
Honestly, I was surprised to learn this about myself. I think of myself as being very proactive and reasonably adventurous, but when it came to writing down my mondo-beyondo (biggest, shiniest, most joy-inducing) dreams, I hesitated. I’d start to write something down, and then pause to analyze the probabilities, deciding in a flash of insecurity-disguised-as-insight that some dreams were just too far out there to include. And, just to be clear, I’m not talking here about dreams like slow dancing with Javier Bardem or eating cheesecake in space. The dreams I was hesitating to write down were much more attainable: growing my art-based business, finding an indie publisher, seeing Italy.
I’d love to say that the minute I realized I was unconsciously capping my dreams, I stopped that nonsense and added to my list some seriously wonderful and improbable things, but that’s not what happened. I struggled. I had trouble including dreams if I couldn’t see how to reach them.
And then one day in the class they told a story about a woman who was dreaming big and bountiful, when she realized suddenly she could never achieve all her dreams by herself. So she got out a piece of paper and divided it down the middle. At the top of the left side she wrote “Me” and then she listed the things she could do to reach her dreams. On the right side she wrote “The Universe,” and underneath listed all the things she’d need the universe to help her with. It made me laugh. I don’t believe that the universe is a benevolent and interested force waiting to grant my wishes.
I felt immediately the pull to make a list like hers – the left side acknowledging the work I have to do, and the right side a wish list for things like luck, timing, and serendipity. And really, I reasoned, if I was working hard on the things on the left side of the page, the stuff on the right side would be far more likely to happen.
So I made a list, of course. (Thank goodness, or this post would have been very anticlimactic.)
I made the list, and I’m sharing it because this is the time of year when a lot of us are thinking about where we’ve been, and where we’re going, and how we want our lives to be. And I have to say that this list was much more fun to make than the goal-oriented lists I normally hammer out in December each year.
I figure I’ll spend 2014 working the stuff on the left side, and watching for the stuff on the right side, because it may not be a benevolent and interested force, but the universe is vast. It’s full of possibilities, and paths, and choices, and crazy, dumb, beautiful luck. Part of my work – a big part of it, actually – is just to stay open to it all.
It’ll be like a dance, I think – me, the universe, and, by extension of course, Javier Bardem.