To begin my research on why my heart would be moved so deliciously towards something unattainable, I returned to the Italy marketing poster and verbage that was on Sabrina’s blog. I started to write down the words and phrases that made my heart well up inside me.
Here’s what I found:
- the story is happening
- follow your adventure
- fascinating act of self-discovery
- strange wonderful chords awake in us
- vibrate again after forgetfulness
- let’s just go
- wet hands
- lying down deep
- sweetly nestled
- embrace beautiful solitude of nature
- picnic lunch
I went back and read through the list I had just made. I was surprised to find that while it was not possible for me to go to Italy at this time in my life, none of the things on the list were actually exclusive to Italy. They were all things possible for me right where I was at. Even in the state of Oklahoma, a place I’d never dreamed I would live, everything on the list was a possibility for me. I felt sort of sheepish that I had bought so heavily into the Italy promise. I realized I was expecting Italy to provide for me what I thought Oklahoma never could. Maybe I was also expecting Sabrina to provide for me what I thought I couldn't provide for myself.
But surely there are things about Italy that I desired. I mean I do desire to travel, to see new things. So I humored myself by making another list.
What does a trip to Italy have that I don’t have in Oklahoma (besides the obvious Italian life and culture):
- little to no responsibility (vacation)
- time away from “have to”
- a change in the routine of a daily schedule
- expectation of the magical
- people who don’t know me which allows a chance to reinvent myself or not be scared to be myself the adventure that comes with the unknown
- an allotted budget that exceeds normal (able to buy fun things)
- time to notice details, to explore
- an undivided, focused heart
- pre-fabricated schedule and adventure (by Sabrina and team)
Then I made another list. What do I have that this trip to Italy doesn’t?:
- the opportunity to alter my everyday mundane life instead of merely escape from my life for a short time
- the ability to train my eyes to find beauty and adventure in all things rather than in the romantic things anyone can find beauty and adventure in
- the ability to re-invent myself, despite people knowing who I am
- my children, who are expert explorers and help me to explore
- the necessary preparation so that someday I can enjoy Italy in a much richer capacity
- inexpensive in comparison
- i can begin today (instead of waiting for trip to embark in September)
Robert Henri in The Art Spirit says, “By being now a master of such as he has, there is promise that he will be master in the future.”
I think this aptly sums up the lesson that Italy was teaching me. Running away to Italy was a temporary fix to the deeper dream. The reason I wanted to travel was because I wasn’t happy with Oklahoma. But if I’m not happy with Oklahoma, no amount of traveling is going to secure my happiness. First I need to learn to be happy with Oklahoma and then Italy could be a deeper more meaningful experience to me. As Robert M. Pirsig said, “The only Zen you find on the tops of mountains is the Zen you bring up there.”
My bigger dream was to lead a consistent life of adventure and wonder and awe and creating, and that could happen in my own backyard just as surely as it could happen overseas. The means to my dream - the carrot I thought was waving in front of me - was not Italy. The means to my dream was learning how to be a master of such as I have currently. Contentment with my now.
I am still hoping that travel is in my future. That dream is not dead, but I have plenty I can learn to master until that becomes a financial possibility.
I was looking for a big dream to be plopped into my lap, but it is 100 times more likely that big dreams appear as we’re focused on the small dreams that lead us in the right direction. This is why I opted to call this book Tomorrow’s Dreams Today, because invariably there are things we can be doing today that begin our walk towards the dreams of tomorrow. Things that satisfy the urge to be moving towards something meaningful.
The reason we don’t? It requires hard work, discipline, dedication, perseverance, and general trudging through chaos with little support or interest from others. It also requires a self-reliance instead of a casting blame on others for not satisfying your desires. It’s much easier to just get mad at God or the Universe or Fate or "Those Lucky Ones Who Get All the Breaks." It's much easier to scream: “Why won’t you give me what I want?”or "Why can't I have what you have?"
In the process of getting to our dreams we are being changed so that we can better know ourselves and appreciate and maintain the dreams once we reach them. We think the solution is to be magically transplanted out of our messy chaotic lives into a week’s worth of Italy, and that by rubbing shoulders with Italy we will be magically changed. Is it any wonder so many of us end up lifting up the edge of the carpet, looking over our shoulders quickly to make sure no one is watching, and then sweeping our dreams underneath?
With the carpet back in place we can just convince ourselves that there were no dreams to begin with and that we are content with life as it must be. When our options are dealing with the mess under the carpet or choosing the comfort of coasting, many of us would just soon resign to coasting.