Over the last few evenings while working in the studio, I’ve been listening to Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones. I read it while in my early ’20s but that’s been 20 years ago and I thought I’d revisit it and see if it had anything to say to me now that I’m older. (the book is older now, too–it had its 20th anniversary in 2006.)
One of the questions she posed, “What are your deepest dreams,” is a question that I hear a lot these days. It’s a mainstay in all the online classes out there that deal in self-exploration–such as Mondo Beyondo and all the SARK seminars. So it’s a question I keep encountering and thinking about.
I wrote it down in my morning pages journal Monday night and left it there–and in my mind–to percolate. I got up the next morning and, while putting on my shoes, started to think about it. (not sure why putting on shoes and socks prompted the thought, but it did).
This is what I wrote in my journal a few minutes later:
“I’m supposed to write about my deep dreams and desires. But when I think about this, I think that I’m too old for deep dreams and desires. Too tired to pursue new ideas–to try and refashion the world. Every time I’ve tried, the push-back has been incredible. Painful, too, and often. The last time nearly brought me down. How much easier to go unnoticed? It’s not that I don’t want to do things–to lead my own dreams–but I know now that’s only possible when you are on your own. When no one else can change the “rules” or even hold “rules” over you. To really have a dream that can change things–you have to be in control of things.”
And then later that day Seth Godin’s new book, Poke the Box, was wirelessly delivered to my Kindle. Like most of his books, it was short and to the point: Initiate change. Start things. And then finish them. Ship.
He argued against the very thing I’d just written in my journal–we are never too old or tired. We shouldn’t let the naysayers beat us down. We should continually initiate things. We will fail often, and that is as it should be. The more times we fail, the more times we’ve started. And some attempts will succeed. But if we never start, we always fail. Even if it feels like we are safe because no one is harassing us, we aren’t secure–we know we’ve failed time and again because we were afraid to start.
So what are your deepest dreams? I went on in my journal that morning and wrote:
“I want to move ever closer to being self-sufficient and self-employed. To grow our own food, to focus on my health, happiness, creativity. To have adventures, to explore.”