The first question in all these self-help books I’ve been reading is, “What’s your dream life?” My dream life? I can have a dream? They may as well be asking me what time I want to leave for a trip to the moon. It’s impossible.
Growing up in a poor household with a ton of hungry kids, I learned early that dreams were for schmucks. My parents’ mantra was, “No sense in even trying because [fill in the blank] will never work anyway.”
When I was in junior high, I came up with the brilliant idea to audition for the cheerleader squad. This was back in the day where the student body voted, so it was basically a popularity contest. Everyone already knew who the cheerleaders were going to be, but some small Dream Spark inside me determined I should give the impossible a try. Since I’d successfully been a wallflower for the first fourteen years of my life, I did not make the squad and I cried my eyes out.
The next year when it was time to tryout, and with my Dream Spark barely an ember, I signed up again. As I jumped around our yard attempting to get my distinctly uncoordinated body to remain upright, Mom came outside. Twisting a worn out dishcloth between her hands, she lowered herself onto a rusted swing. “Please don’t try out again,” she whimpered. “I can’t handle the rejection.” Whereupon she buried her face in the towel and cried her eyes out.
That flood of tears extinguished my Dream Ember and I’ve never dreamed an impossible dream again, let alone a possible one.
But now these damn self-help books keep throwing matches at my Dream Ember to try to revive it. I read a quote in one that said, “Create a vision that makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning.” What? The? That’s a made up thing, right? Like princes on white horses, and dragons and unicorns?
I took the book to my therapist appointment and, stabbing my finger at the quote, demanded she confirm that it was a fairy tale. She looked at me like I had two heads (something, I’m pretty sure they are taught in therapist’s school not to do) and said, “I jump out of bed every morning!”
I walked out of that appointment a muddled mess. When I got to my car I paused to look around and wondered, Wait. Are all these people walking around magically thinking up dreams, and goals, and aspirations too?
I’m available Wednesday for a trip to the moon. Anyone want to come along?