I expected this month’s salon conversation to go something like this: we share an unrealized childhood ambition; of being a painter, a poet, a police-woman. In the course of discussing these dreams, we realize they could actually be fulfilled if we just signed up for that art class, carved out some time for poetry or googled “police academy”. We all feel better having realized that nothing is ever out of reach and give each other virtual hugs. That is not what happened.
This month’s question: At this point in your life, is there a dream you will never get to fulfill? What is it- and what makes you so sure it’s out of reach? yielded surprising answers (at least to me).
As La Zuccheriera so rightly pointed out, this question contradicts “one of the deep-seated principles of our culture”. We like to believe that no dream is too big and that anything is possible. This is even implicit in the second part of the question itself as it asks “What makes you so sure (your dream) is out of reach?”. And yet, as the answers came in, it became obvious that as time goes on, there are doors that simply swing shut.
Jessica will never attend Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Because as she pointed out, she is over the age limit of a Hogwart’s student and the school is likely fictitious. For La Zuccheriera, an earlier dream of a more leisurely existence has had to give way to a new vision. K. will not sing for her husband’s grandfather, who has passed away, and who loved her voice before she had confidence in it. Lee Ann’s children won’t have their grandmothers cheering them on at the big events in their lives. (Lee Ann gets special mention, by the way, for blogging her comments to the Salon twice!) And Dana will not have the child she longs for.
I found myself wanting to fix it. To come up with some simple assurance that would clear away the sense of sadness I felt looking at these glimmering bits of broken dreams. But the answers I came up with were too pat, too trite and ultimately, false.
The reality is that in this life, we lose things, we don’t always get what we want. Unrealized dreams are part of the landscape, however much we would like to believe otherwise. To Bella Canto (one of our past contributors), this helps us appreciate what we do have. And I agree with her. But when I’m looking at a little wish of mine that will never be fulfilled, knowing this doesn’t necessarily help. But what does?
I think it helps to recognize these bits of our experience and talk about them. For most of us, I would venture to say we don’t think about these things often. And if they do come up, we don’t want to spend too much time on them. Sometimes because doing so wouldn’t help us, sometimes because it’s painful; as Dana said, some things need to be mourned “in small bits” so we can bear it. But secret hurts and and even small griefs can build up. We need to share them occasionally; maybe to heal them, maybe to simply express what it is to be alive.
But for me (eternal optimist that I am) this still isn’t enough. There has to be some kind of happy ending, doesn’t there?
I don’t have any answers and can’t produce a happy ending. Yet, in thinking about this one thing came to mind. Lately, I’ve been working with an idea from this book (and this one) about forgiveness. The idea being to forgive everything and everyone; the pushy person on the bus, the co-worker you can’t stand and any situation that seems to be a problem. And when I say forgiveness, I don’t mean condoning a situation or forgiveness in a “high and mighty” sense (as in “I am so much better than you, so I’m being the bigger person here”) but rather just imagining the person or situation filled with light and letting it go. Acceptance and surrender. It saves me from having to fix things, from
neurotic endless analysis of the situation. And somehow, magically, it helps. I haven’t tried it with broken dreams yet, but I plan to start experimenting. I’ll let you know how it goes.
But wait! We’re not finished yet. Forgiveness is great and all, but what about the fudge?! Well, (drum roll, please) Dana is the winner of the draw! Dana – please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know what kind of fudge you like best (chocolatey, caramely, nutty?) and where to send it to you! And stay tuned everyone, for the next question later this week!