Right now, I am sitting in my cluttered writing studio, which is actually a dining room. Boxes are strewn about, some half filled. I’m restless.
Thing is, I’m getting ready to move.
You bet your boots, I bought a house. Nothing grand. But it’s directly across from a 5-acre wood. Well, let me not be too grandiose. It’s more like a giant community park with gardens and a stream. Just outside my new front door lies a lush, verdant place to air out my brain.
It’s my dream house: fireplace, cook’s kitchen, and only minutes from the big city. I plan to use the roughed-out attic as a writing garret. With a southern exposure, it’s sunny enough to convert Emily Dickinson into an optimist.
Here’s how I made my dream come true:
1. I made the dream more concrete.
Our imaginations work from the concrete to the abstract, not the other way around. For instance, I blogged it into being, I wrote a letter to myself describing my dream house and mailed it to myself.
2. I made the dream feel close, not far.
This spring, I took to walking in the park to calm my imagination when it convulsed with a fear of abandonment. The house caught my eye. A sturdy little brick house with the peaked roof and a red door. I walked past it every chance I could get. This made the dream seem as if it were part of my routine existence. Close, not far.
3. I let myself believe in small victories.
One day, a for sale sign appeared on the tidy green lawn. I threw my head back and cheered right out loud in the middle of the park. I danced across the footbridge. I made up a little song in my head about the house. When I toured it against the protestations of my realtor (“It’s overpriced by $75K! for God’s sake!”) I truly fell in love. That night, I posted a picture of it on my fridge, poured a glass of champagne and toasted it.
4. I slit the veil of fear.
Whenever I’m afraid to take a big step, I close my eyes and picture a thin gauzy veil that stands between me and what I want. I imagine myself gently parting it and stepping through. My big fear was that the house was beyond my reach. And it was, at first.
5. I stayed everlasting at it.
People tell me I’m bright. If that is true, I should be smarter about letting go of bad things sooner – bad ideas, bad men, bad business deals. The trade-off is that I am tenacious. With patience and persistence I persuaded the family to sell me the house at a fair price. It had belonged to their grandma. It bore an emotional sales price. It’s a flawed cliché to say that persistence pays off. I have a string of failures that prove otherwise. But when it is the thing you both want and need, and it pulls at your heart and makes sense to your head–you stay at it…everlasting at it.
6. I became a time traveler.
I looked back and re-connected with fond memories of every house I ever owned or lived in. I looked ahead and imagined small daily miracles unfolding in my new home: flowering plants and raucous dinner parties where people fight good-naturedly to get a word in. I kept my imagination engaged in ways that formed a joyful bond between me and my dream. And in the process I learned a secret about joy…it gives a person courage.
I move next month. After two years of living in a rented flat, lovely as it was, I will again have a home of my own.
What are the first things I will do once the boxes are unpacked?
a. I will build a roaring fire.
b. I will sing songs at the top of my lungs.
c. I will wear a black bra and dance around until 2 a.m. if I so desire…because I can.
The trouble with dreams is that a part of us wants to chicken out. I discovered that dreams need constant reassurance to stoke them. Our rational minds fear that getting our hopes up just isn’t prudent. When I was tempted to retreat to the safety of premeditated disappointment because it kept me in control, I decided instead to gorge myself on fantasy rather than starve myself on fear. It helped and it was more fun.
You have a dream inside of you.
So let me ask you:
When you finally get your heart’s desire, what’s the first thing you will do?