The blog post about Italy on Sabrina’s website was entitled “The Story Is Happening.” (She since then went onto write a book with this title.) Upon closer inspection, those words really jumped out to me. The Story Is Happening. It IS already. Whether I am in Italy or not, there is a story unfolding, and I can choose to be an active part in that story, making choices and attitude adjustments that will help better the story, or I can play a more passive role, letting things happen to me and responding out of mere reaction. Regardless, the story is going to keep happening.
A second headline in that post was the phrase “Follow Your Adventure.” The word “your” stuck out to me this time. My adventure is unique. It may not look like a trip to Italy at 32 years of age. It may not look like the lives of anyone around me. It doesn’t have to. It is my own adventure, and a thousand different roads can lead me to the exact same dream.
There is a contentment that can come when you allow yourself to settle into your story, your own adventure. When you stop asking “what should my life look like?” and you start considering “what could my life look like?” or quite possibly even “what does my life look like?” It's just a matter of playing with the language.
I could feel the shift in perception occurring within me. And much like Sabrina’s Italian verbage, I found myself saying “Let’s Just Go.” Let’s just make the most of the place I am at currently. What does my story look like in this reality?
I started to see the hang-ups and the roadblocks more as creative confines. These are my given perimeters for the time being. How can I work within them and still feel fulfilled? If anyone should be able to make the most of a situation like that it should be an artist. Don’t we live to create something out of nothing?
It became a sort of challenge for me. Some days the challenge is more intense then others. Some days I’d like nothing more then to let my soul be blown open in Italy right now because I assume it is much easier for a soul to blow open there than here. But overall, I now realize I want my dream to last more than a week’s time. I want my dream to be sustainable, to become my new reality. And so I am forced (no, let's use the word challenged or inspired! *See how we can play with language?) to buy into the smaller dreams that are at my fingertips right now.
My friend Sam once wrote about this.
Here’s an excerpt:
“I’ve found that looking ahead as a futurist or a strategist never led me down the pathway I envisioned. In hindsight, my vision for the future was always rather myopic and shortsighted... Mainly because of unforeseen variables that changed the course of my life. It was like I was trying to paint the picture of my future using a color palette that was ever-changing. Allowing my present situation to cloud my destiny.”
I truly believe that our passions and desires and dreams matter. That we can chase after and enjoy them. However, what I do often forget, and what I was so clearly reminded of in Sam’s post, is that we can’t work out all the details in the present. We can point ourselves in the direction of those dreams, but we cannot be so foolish as to believe that how we think we’ll get there is how we’ll actually get there.
I like being reminded of this for two reasons:
1. I can only take the very next step on my journey. Not steps 10, 11, 12 or even step 101. What a great reminder because in my mind, I’m constantly thinking about step 101. Sometimes so much so that I don’t have the energy or the focus to do the step 1 that I need to do today.
What’s crazy is that by the time I get to step 101, it will look TOTALLY DIFFERENT then what I think it’s going to look like. It could even be that I won’t have to get to step 101 of my dream because an entirely new way will appear that gets me to my dream by step 50. Or, maybe I need to go the round about way, because I need to walk through step 200, 201 and 202 to better prepare me for my dream. It's all about trusting myself. It’s making belief (make believing). Right?
2. I start to recognize and get excited about the little steps of my todays. Suddenly the seemingly little and pointless steps can become great reasons to celebrate because I know it’s all a part of a plan. I don’t believe anything occurs by coincidence.
I remember thinking about this in regards to a sewing project I was working on. I was stuck on something I had designed and had pretty much given up on an idea working. I put the project aside. We had friends visiting and I just happened to ask my friend Christina’s advice on the project I was working on. She answered my question exactly and took me to the next level of my sewing. One little conversation catapulted me weeks ahead in my sewing skills. Such a small step, but in the long run their visit took me to the next level in my artistic confidence and skill.
When we start looking for the little steps in our todays, we’ll start to see them more and more. We’ll start to trust the the dreams of our future and focus on what we feel we can do today.
There are stepping stones to our dreams. The question is whether you’re willing to use them. The stones do not promise to whisk you away to glittering beaches with smooth drinks and cool breezes. The stones may force you to find the glitter in brown, fenced-in backyards, in a sip of wine in your own smudged glasses, and in rip-roaring winds that do take your breath away, but not in the romantic way you had hoped.
I am learning to break down the big dreams into much smaller ones. To scale back, not because I’m downsizing the dream, but because I’m paving a way to get to it. YOUR story is already happening. Are YOU actively engaged in it?