“People are capable, at any time in their lives, of doing what they dream of.” ~ Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
What do we do when our belief in our dreams falters? How do we structure our lives when we no longer believe that dreaming matters?
Several years ago I found myself reading Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist. As I followed the story, I thought about dreams. For years, I had believed that some people could afford to dream, while the rest of us could afford only to work and pay bills and get by. We could only live paycheck to paycheck, and dreaming was for people with disposable income or the free time to make things happen.
As a child, my natural tendency was to write. I crafted poems, short stories, articles for a school paper and even short plays. I was Jo from Little Women, a big dreamer, wild and exuberant about life. And then I got older. My life experience was working my way through college with a full-time job while still having to amass student loans to make up what I couldn’t earn, and then working my way through grad school the same way. By the time I got out of grad school at 27, I was tired. I had stopped dreaming somewhere in my undergrad years, and instead chose what I thought would be a more realistic career path.
I followed a “sensible” path, choosing an education and a career that might allow me a flexible schedule for the children I planned to add to my family. Well, we all know that life rarely goes according to plan, no matter how meticulously we plan it. We can fast-forward to my choice to leave the career path I’d chosen, a decision that was heart-breaking at the time. We can even fast forward past having two children and then my decision to file for divorce while they were both still in diapers. Somewhere during all of this emotional upheaval and all the scary life changes, something broke in me.
And the light got in.
How could I recover my own dreams when I couldn’t see my way forward or even imagine a semblance of a normal life? I felt that I had no choice. My dreams seemed to have sought me out in this broken place, and I felt like they were demanding my attention again, now that I had stopped trying to follow my carefully laid out life plan. Suddenly, I had lines of a story running through my head, refusing to relent until they were written down. I began scrawling lines across the page while my bath grew cold, one of the only times I had to myself in a day spent taking care of children and trying to figure out how to support the three of us with little income.
My dreams were reborn out of my struggles.
“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God and with eternity.” ~ Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
From this experience, I’ve come to believe in Paulo Coelho’s vision of dreams. Dreams aren’t just for those of us who have the time and money to dedicate to them. Dreams are, in fact, for all of us. Most of us just become too busy with doing and with following our own life plans that we forget to be mindful of the lives we’re choosing to live. We forget to look out for the signs that tell us when we’re going down the wrong path or when the right one is just ahead. Most of us are relentless in maintaining a status quo, and we’ve forgotten the importance of dreams.
I too had lost my way and neglected my dreams. And I am eternally grateful that they came back to me. My dreams continue to grow beyond my wildest imaginings. I’ve stopped limiting them and instead spend time letting them grow as wild and spectacular as they desire. I feel that our dreams will surely manifest when we allow ourselves to dream big and to do whatever it takes along the course of our dreams to bring them into being.
Sometimes this will require deep soul searching where we’re required to remove the inner blocks to our way forward. We may be required to investigate our own belief systems, weeding out the ones that are holding us back. We may even be required to delve into our childhood—our upbringing—and remove all of the messages that may have worked their way into our subconscious to hold us back. We may be required to systematically work through our choices to see how our actions have impacted the lives we’re leading so that we may learn to make new choices along the path of our dreams. It is certainly a pilgrimage and one that requires commitment, dedication and sacrifice to achieve our vision.
When our dreams falter, and we no longer believe, it becomes especially important to mine the depths of our souls for the obstacles we’ve placed in our own way. Oftentimes, the ego wants us to stay mired in a place of regret or sadness; it wants us to hold on to our old stories, our victim mentalities, our views of ourselves as being one particular thing. Also, many of the people in our lives may champion the idea that we should just follow the conventional path. They may feel threatened by dreamers, as their dreams have fallen by the wayside. Perhaps they do not want to be challenged to pursue those dreams.
At the heart of our own resistance is a truth that is waiting to be revealed, if only we are brave enough to go in search of it.
When we have courage and address our challenges, we can begin to remove the obstacles to our dreams. When our dreams falter, the universe is letting us know that we have work to do in order to move forward in search of our destiny. This is a time to uncover unhealthy attitudes and blocks to our progress. It may also be a signal that we need to move in a different direction in order to achieve our dreams. It becomes an opportunity to pause and reflect and to take the time to listen to our own souls and to the universe around us.
“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” ~ Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
Author: Crystal Jackson
Image: Flickr/Valerie Hinojosa
Editors: Yoli Ramazzina; Catherine Monkman