**Author’s note: This is dedicated to my friends, A.M.S. & K.C.
It’s too much, this dream. Too big.
It started as a tiny harmless whisper in your ear—you should do this thing. This thing you dared not articulate, even to yourself, in a dreamless sleep—this thing buried so deep, it extended down way past flesh and bone and maybe even into former lives, down and out in all directions, this nameless thing.
But then you named it—and you spoke it, and you wrote it, and you told it. And the only way to move was forward, so you began.
The beginning was good—“Yes,” you thought, “this is right.”
Everything seemed to fall into place—the world was brighter, your heart was aflame, and your destiny was upon you! You told everyone, “I am happy! I am finally happy.”
The future was written, and all it had taken was one shaky step.
How silly you had been.
Day by day, you worked on this thing, and for a while that was enough. Step, step, step into the unknown—one step at a time. “You can do this,” you said to yourself, “You can do this.”
Then you made a misstep. You tripped, you fell, it hurt. But you got back up.
When you fall the next time it is harder. You lay on the ground a while, staring up at the sky. The clouds float along. You remember that you haven’t looked up like this in quite some time, so concerned with watching where you’re stepping you have been.
You remember your life before this thing—it was emptier yes, but easier too. You could watch the clouds all day—you could sleep and wander in the woods and taste your food. Ah, that sweet time, now distant. Gobbled up by this thing, which you are now not so sure had it’s roots in you at all, far back and way down and out in all directions.
Maybe you just imagined it. Maybe you don’t want this thing, not really.
What can you do? To turn back would be humiliating.
“I am a failure,” you say quietly to yourself, “And I haven’t even started. Even if I continue, I am a failure, because I no longer want this thing, and it is only in the service of my ego and my pride that I now pursue it.”
You agonize about your course of action. You are a different person now than you were before. You feel stuck. You don’t want to move forward. You can’t go back. All you want to do is sleep and sleep.
And so you do—you sleep. You rest, but not for long. In stillness you can feel it once again. A tugging like an eager child pulling on your sleeve, who needs to show you something, something bright and important. You let her pull you.
It hurts to move. You’re no longer confident—you’re bruised, you’re humbled—but that child won’t let go of your sleeve. You decide to see what it is she wants to show you, even if you have to walk very slowly. You shuffle along—clouds overhead, ground beneath—no longer shouting with happiness, but moving. The way forward is muddy, messy, wet, occasionally beautiful, but mostly just uphill and hard. But you can’t go back. You won’t go back.
“I won’t go back,” you say, over and over to yourself. “I won’t.” So that maybe you’ll believe it.
And somewhere in your shuffling, you realize—belief has got nothing to do with it. Belief is a phantom, a liar. The only thing that matters is that you keep moving. One step, one step. That’s how dreams are really made.
One day, when you reach the thing—when you finally get there (and you will, though it may look nothing like you imagined)—you will get there, and you will look back on all those steps you took and wonder: How did I do that?
How did I do that?
And you won’t quite know, but you will smile. You might shout, and then—you’ll listen for the next thing.
Author: Erica Leibrandt
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina