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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Dream On

A few years ago, I blogged about pursuing dreams (not here, but on a different blog). I wasn't prepared for the angry responses I received for a post that I thought would be encouraging. It's entirely possible that I didn't write it well enough, but watching the Olympics got me thinking about chasing dreams again.

When I was a kid, I wanted to be an Olympic figure skater. It was my dream. At six, my parents signed me up for lessons. Unfortunately, the class was too big and the teacher didn't seem to care about actually helping students learn to skate. It was more like he was there and that was it.

Despite my disappointment, I kept at it because I wanted this. At least until I fell during class and broke my leg. The tibia. But the dream didn't die, and even though it took me three years to work up my courage again, I got back on the ice. My friends taught me how to skate this time and I had a blast. So much fun that I wanted to go the next day.

And I fell and broke my left ankle.

The dream of being an Olympic skater died then. I wasn't willing to risk breaking a leg for a third time. But you know what? Just because that dream was gone, didn't mean I didn't find other dreams.

When I was in eighth grade, I discovered fiction writing and fell in love. I always had stories in my head, but now I'd found a way to share them with others. I found a new dream--to be a professional writer.

Selling my first book might have satisfied the basic dream, but then I grew it, let it become more. My goal now is to be successful enough at writing to be able to do it full time. I'm still chasing that dream, but I know that if I ever reach it, I'll come up with a new dream because life is a journey, not a destination and I need something to shoot toward.

So when I got the backlash from my blog post years ago, I didn't understand why people couldn't/wouldn't pursue their dreams. If someone is married with children and their dream is to run off and backpack solo through Europe for a year, well, maybe it's time to adjust that to visit Europe for a couple of weeks with the spouse once the kids are in college.

If the dream is to be an Olympic gymnast and someone is in their 30s, well, that boat sailed since most gymnasts are in their teens, but this is where I would find a new dream, like switching from Olympic figure skater to writer. Do I still feel a pang when I watch figure skating? Yes, but I also know that I'm not strapping on skates again for any reason and I let the regret go. Life is about choices and I made mine.

Dreams shouldn't be stagnant. There is nothing wrong with finding a new dream, even if it's simply taking an online class to learn something that's always been an interest. If circumstances decree that the original dream isn't feasible, then what's a new dream that is doable?

Just as an FYI, I turned off comments on this post. This is something I never do, but I simply don't have time or energy to deal with anger if I managed to say things wrong again.