Sunday, September 20, 2009

Missing Your Dreams

Most of us grow up imagining the great things we will accomplish in life. Perhaps you wanted to be a dancer, a painter, an athlete, a pilot, a singer, or a writer. The list is as vast as the individual's imagination. While few of us will ever have the opportunity to fulfill these dreams, does it make them any less important? The answer is no.

While we may not realize it, every childhood dream served a purpose. They allowed us to envision doing something greater than our situation might allow. Dreams open us to possibilities bigger than ourselves, leading us down roads we may never travel. Our childish dreams gave us a chance to see all the possibilities without the constraints that reality places on us as adults.

Our society places little importance on dreams. Adult thinking emphasizes responsibility based on tasks, considering imagination unimportant in landing a good job and making a living. The feedback we receive growing up often convinces us to abandon our vision of what others consider impossible. In the process, we lose so much of ourselves.

Growing up, my dreams and imaginations were as vast as the stars in a desert sky. They were my escape from a difficult and painful situation. Dreams allowed me to see a better world full of happiness and intrigue. One by one these dreams were compressed into a little ball named reality as the necessity of living replaced fantasy. For a long time I lived without dreams focusing on placing one foot in front of the other believing I had no choice in the path. I was wrong. Learning to dream again allowed me to see that I could walk around the roadblocks I saw in front of me.

As adults we have choices. We can blame our parents for smashing our dreams into little pieces, holding on to bitterness and resentment. We can blame our situation for not placing enough opportunities in front of us to allow these dreams to be realized. Hopefully, we will come to understand that our parents and others were trying to protect us from being disappointed since they too had childish dreams that went unfulfilled. They most often simply did not have the tools to guide us in the safest ways or the understanding that imagination is a healthy manifestation of a growing mind.

Regardless of how much we may have suffered from being told we would never be good enough to be the things we dreamed of, it is not too late to put this in the past. We cannot undo what is behind us. Forgive yourself for falling short of your goals to open up the possibilities of what you can become now. Allow yourself to dream again.

There is nothing wrong spending a little time with your head in the clouds. Go places in your mind. See yourself for whatever you want to be. Some things may be possible given enough effort. If you believe you can, go for it. Many things we dream of may not be within our reach. Providing that we do not cling to the impossible, we may find that our wildest dreams lead us to see possibilities we would have missed with our minds closed.

I believe I read it best some while back on Amanda Linehan's blog "Look Far, The Art of Self Awareness". "It's OK to have your head in the clouds as long as your feet are on the ground". Living in reality comes with being an adult. Imagination simply makes life more fun.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Changing Seasons

Often we do not have to travel far to witness the beauty that nature offers us. After weeks of putting it off, I climbed on my motorcycle yesterday to ride one of my favorite routes on the back roads through the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Soon these mountain passes will be closed as snow will blanket the landscape leaving them impassable.

I stopped first along a little stream called "Silver Creek" to listen to the water as it cascaded over the rocks making the music of life as it wound its way down the mountain. It is difficult not to feel peaceful as the water plays among the little twists and turns of the stream bed.

The little lake in the picture was my next stop. I was struck by the majesty of this place nestled in a little valley about 8600 feet above sea level. At this altitude, summer hides the harshness of winter as water lilies and mountain aspen wrap the landscape in green for a few months. The lake will soon freeze over and the flowers will lay dormant until the spring thaw wakes the spectacle once again.

Sitting for a long time along the shore, I was reminded of how impermanent so much of the cause of suffering really is. We can choose to view difficult situations as seasons rather than something permanent. Given enough time, the current season will pass, melting the snow and ice that covers our happiness, giving way to a new spring where the flowers and leaves once again fill us with joyfulness and peace.

Know that during the darkest times, our flowers and leaves are inside us waiting for the ice to thaw giving each of us a chance for a new beginning. Special places that remind us of this are often not far away. May you find your spot and be filled with peace.

A Special Gift

My friend, Teresa Silverthorn, author of the blog; "Confessions of a Mystic", gave me a Mandala she created for me today. Those familiar with the meaning of a Mandala will understand the specialness of this gift.

Mandalas in Buddhism are viewed as sacred places to remind the viewer of life's impermanence as well as our own internal potential. Common in many forms of Buddhism, Mandalas are used as part of mediation practice where the mediator contemplates the image to the most fine detail, internalizing the image as a place of safety and sanctuary.

Mandalas are meant to help us discover divinity through the realization that divinity is actually within each of us, waiting for us to discover it.

Buddhist monks often spend months creating intricate and beautiful Mandalas out of colored sand. Once completed, the sand is brushed together and washed away in a body of water to signify the impermanence of all things.

Thank you Teresa for this wonderful gift.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Have You Misplaced Yourself?

I have learned in my years on this planet that life is most difficult when we take it too seriously. Somehow, we have come to believe that floating around on this little spec of dust called Earth makes us the glue that holds the universe together. We fight, stress and ruminate over the most insignificant details, making them the center of our lives. Why?

The answer is simply validation. We want our lives to mean something. Our lives should be meaningful but we often miss what is truly meaningful by focusing on the wrong things. As a society we typically define meaning based on material success rather than the intrinsic value that each of us has within us. The messages we receive from birth stress the point that we must "have" to "be".

There is nothing wrong with material success providing we are not harming ourselves and those around us while trying to achieve it. Many people would actually be more successful if they could just remove the remove the preconceived conditions they have been taught as the only road to achieve it.

Often we deny our deepest needs in the pursuit of our perceived desires. We loose ourselves in this process, slowly killing our true self by either trying to become the person someone else wants us to be or someone we have told ourselves we have to be. Living in this state causes immense suffering within us as we deny the person that we really are.

The only way to real happiness is by living truthfully to who we are no matter how deeply we have buried the the true self. It can be very frightening as we remove the layers because we are afraid of what we may find. Breath through the fear and ask yourself; Who am I? What do I want out of life?

Be aware that a little nagging voice may try to stop you. "You are not good enough". "You have not achieved enough". These are the voices that have been placed on us by life's conditions not from truth. Acknowledge this voice for what it is, static. Keep pushing deeper. It is not something that will come overnight but if you keep going, you will find it.

Small steps are all you need, there is no hurry. It took a long time to get to the point where you are and that is fine. It is where you are right now in the present moment. You just don't have to stay where you have been told you must be.

Stop taking yourself and life too seriously. Make time to enjoy the time you have here, laughing, crying and everything in between. You deserve the best because you are you.