All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.
T. E. Lawrence
What is it like to live without dreams? Imagine walking through a desert, featureless, endless and barren. Imagine walking for days and days; days stretching to weeks and months. When you set out on this trek, you have a dream, if only of finding a way out. After some time, discouragement sets in, eventually despair and desperation. You keep walking and weeks and months turn into years. How are you feeling now?
Soon, you begin to see the purposelessness of continuing your plodding path, you begin to wonder why you continue. But humans and all living things carry in them a seed of determination to survive. Humans, because of their ability to think, tend to call this hope: hope for something better somewhere, somehow.
But hope dies.
When I was young, I had so many dreams. I dreamed of being a princess, I dreamed of being a vet, an artist, a writer, a musician, an actress. I dreamed of living in a magnificent castle, being as beautiful as Helen of Troy, of marrying a handsome prince. Later I dreamed of owning a zoo, of being a lawyer, of being SOMEBODY. So many dreams.
It’s life that kills the dreams of youth. Often well-meaning adults destroy dreams. The mirror speaks the truth and crushes dreams. Bad things happen to children and they forget to dream.
When dreams are killed, we find ourselves in the desert.
In the desert is the dragon Depression.
When the dragon Depression comes, life becomes pointless, without reason. How many people plod along, year after year in a dead-end job, doing the same thing day after day, week after week, endlessly.
I spent more than 15 years in the desert, courting the dragon Depression. Not depression to suicide, don’t get me wrong; never that.
I am the kind of person who fights, who asks ‘why’. Why can’t I achieve my goals? Why am I still doing something I am bored with? Why aren’t I happy?
The awakening came gradually.
My aunt died at 60 of breast cancer. I still remember her death. She died, fretful and discontent. About the same time I read t.s. eliot’s poem The Hollow Men. The poem shook me, especially the last lines:
This is the way the world ends This is the way the world ends This is the way the world ends Not with a bang but a whimper.
I knew one thing for sure. I didn’t want my world to end with a whimper. I didn’t want to die, fretful and discontent. I wanted something MORE. But what to do? I was so deeply in a rut, I felt like I couldn’t get out.I began to read self-help books. A quote shook me and I wrote it out in fancy script and put it on my fridge:
If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.
Ok, so what to do differently? How to change my life? I started to find my way out of the desert. The dragon Depression stopped dogging my footsteps. I began to dream again.
I’m not writing this to tell my life’s story. I’m writing this to show you the road.
The road is through dreams.
How do you start to dream again; fix goals, look forward to a different and better tomorrow?
I had to step out of my comfort zone. I had to take risks. I had to establish boundaries to stop people from controlling me through disapproval. I had to find new horizons, throw out the old and begin anew.
What did I do?
The first step was breaking away from people who tried to control me and had succeeded for 15 years. It was hard. But it was exhilarating discovering myself again. I took a road trip from Midland, Ontario, through northern Quebec to Labrador. I caught a ferry from Happy Valley/Goose Bay and went to Newfoundland. I spent 3 weeks on this trek, driving perilous roads, encountering wildlife in my solitude, camping alone, talking to strangers, singing shanty songs with Newfoundlanders, hiking the barrens of the eastern-most edge of Canada. I took so many risks, put myself in danger numerous times, but I started to feel alive! I will someday write about this incredible adventure, but the point was I discovered myself again. And I began to be reborn.
When I went back to my life, I didn’t allow myself to fall again into the humdrum of the rut. I began to look for new ways to feel alive. I had long ago dreamt of learning to ride a motorcycle. I went out and took lessons. I bought my first Harley. It was amazing and I discovered the joy of the wind while astride a mechanical dragon.
I moved away from my home, purchased an ancient log cabin on 2 acres of land and gathered new friends around me. I began to remember who I was.
My next act, after 2 1/2 years of enjoying my log cabin was to sell it and leave my country. I have now spent 6 years in Kuwait, married a wonderful man from a completely different background and a totally different generation than mine.
I will always remember the turning point. I had spent in excess of 15 years depressed, discouraged, believing that I deserved only misery and the dreary life I was leading. I remember being so down on myself that I didn’t even believe that things could change, that anything bad that happened was exactly what I deserved. I had intense feelings of worthlessness. I felt that if I disappeared, nobody would even notice. I didn’t like happy people around me, I felt they were annoying and fraudulent. The turning point was when I looked at my aunt dying in the hospital, querulous, discontent and essentially disappointed with life. I would not die like that, absolutely not!
Now, as we prepare to return to Canada, I am permitting myself to dream. We are building ourselves many dreams of what we will do once my husband is permitted to enter Canada. We have faced challenges, discouragements, discrimination, but we are dreaming.
And we are not depressed.