I stopped dreaming today and yesterday and for a while now. Most days, I convince myself to let my dreams go into the wind and find someone who wants to hold them and love them and keep them, but they never leave in their fullness. Scraps of each always remain and grow no matter how much I refuse to water them. My breath is their sunlight. I’ve started to realize that some part of them will probably stay with me as long as I live, but I’ve decided to stop letting them creep into my heart and soul. I have to accept these dreams are not mine to hold anymore.
Because they will not leave me, I have decided to try to change them. It’s a long process full of patience that I have never been blessed with and care that I have never really had use for. Everyday I graft a little piece of a new life on to these dreams and hope they’ll take. Sometimes they don’t and sometimes they do, but still I clip and cut and tear at these dreams that keep growing back in the hope that they’ll evolve with me.
Way back when, I used to strive to be President of the United States of America. My little hands thought they could mold a better world, but as I grew and grew and learned and learned, I realized that I have no interest in being the President of the United States of America or the United States of America at all. That dream died without a fight when it saw the world for what it was.
Then I thought I could be a woman in a suit in a tall building surrounded by men in suits. Hell hath no fury like a woman under a glass ceiling, but hell is more patient than a free spirit in an accounting class. Readily and easily, I leapt from the tall building and into the arms of writing and art, thinking I would pursue the notoriety that I suppose we all crave. This is the dream that holds fast, an abstract vision full of books and shows and people I’ve never met. It’s a dream I found in college and that stopped fitting quite right after life slowed down from being a full time student and a full time broken heart just trying to survive. As much as I am the same wild, chaotic woman as I was in college, I’ve also evolved into a version of myself that is slightly less wild and chaotic. It’s not much of a chance, but it’s enough to make my dreams feel heavy.
Success looks different to me now. It’s hazier than it used to be. The view is less cluttered with buildings and traffic and more full of trees and trails leading far into some forest I’ve never been to. For whatever reason, there is nothing I crave more now than peace. No corporate ladder is tall enough to reach for the peace in my mind that I crave so desperately. There is no mountain of money big enough to make me feel like I could be stable because I’m far too familiar with stories of that climb. I remember people talking about peace being the only thing we should pursue and now I finally understand what that means.
Maybe it’s the love I found that makes me feel this way. For the first time in a long time, I don’t feel the need to find the escape route out of the life I have. This doesn’t feel temporary because in my heart of hearts and in the most logical parts of my mind, I know it’s not temporary. I have found a love the good Lord intended for me to feel worthy of and nothing feels better than to feel like home. Never never never did I think I would feel elated at the thought of heading home everyday or homesick when I’m away, but here I am perpetually homesick when I’m not in the solace of my peace.
Dreams of American success and making a million dollars seem like dreams that would take me away from this state of life I find myself in, so instead I’m trying to wrap my mind around a type of success that I make for myself.
I make art for myself now, to free my mind and rid myself of burdens I no longer wish to carry. I write for the sake of writing now, without deadlines or any sense of urgency. All my creative pursuits have evolved into pursuing creativity with my community instead of chasing after numbers. It’s all so slow and so much more pure and it’s hard to believe I ever wanted anything else. Even when I can’t perfectly stay on this new path I’m on, I try to remember to come back. There are times when I still feel like I want traditional success and money to burn, but then I hear the voices of thousands of parents and more adultier adults passing down ancient wisdom I’d be stupid for not remembering: Needs come before wants. I don’t need the success that white men told me I should strive for and practically die for. I need peace.
Because even in my hustle and bustle of my old dream days, I subconsciously sought out a slower pace of life. Trip after trip was spent doing nothing with good people who loved me. From the streets of Ireland to an Army base in Alabama, the only places I ever ran to in my time away from working towards these dreams I can’t dream anymore were places where people waited to count the slower hours with me. Long walks and talks were what I missed when I came back home and it’s only now that I realize that my body and my heart and my soul were crying out for me to find this type of peace everyday instead of making it a drug I only indulge in on vacation. I’m finally listening because I am finally trying to accept that my life is not long enough to continue with these pursuits that every cell in my body is rejecting.
Maybe I’ll start dreaming again when my dreams finally evolve into what I need them to be, but right now it just feels good to slow down, no matter how bad I am at staying in that pace.