The email arrives in my inbox, promising enlightenment and transformation at a conference about storytelling. This from a guy I’ve never heard of who apparently has gathered big-wigs in a big city to host a conference I could be hosting. A conference I would love to be hosting.
It happens to each of us in different ways – dreams dashed, picked up by others and run with. Or at least the illusion of it.
And when I shared it with a friend and whined about how “this is what I want to be doing” and wondered who is this guy anyway, she pointed out astutely that success doesn’t just happen as if it’s some overnight blink-of-an-eye.
No, most of us labor in obscurity for years, decades, a lifetime before glimpsing our fingers closing around the prize.
There are many reasons for that.
One is that what we think we want and what we really want are two different things.
Another: what I want today, I may not want tomorrow, and so we keep shooting for a goal which keeps shifting and moving and evolving.
And the best reason: it takes hard work, dedication, perseverance and passion to make a dream a reality.
The storytelling conference that I got an email about may have grown out of an unknown guy speaking to a mostly empty room time and time again, with one or two paying clients, until somehow it grew and blossomed into a half-full room and then a full room and then standing room only.
I’m sure the guy started with the big dream and kept his eyes trained on it, even while he was giving his all to a small audience and hoping for a bigger outcome, some day.
We live for our some days.
As I walked through my rooms today, in between glimpses of rain-soaked grass and damp sky and the gray hush of a still-warm late fall day, I had the distinct feeling that there was no good or bad, really, just my illusion of both.
At one moment, there is the annoyance (fill in the blank – a person, a client, a project, a situation).
The next moment, there is the joy (fill in the blank – a person, a client, a project, a situation).
The common link: me.
This morning I woke to one of the last warm days for the foreseeable future. My open windows made ushered in damp air and the hush of nearby traffic.
It was still and soft. I took my time waking up, recited the blessing for having the gift of another day.
The shower washed away the last vestiges of night, and my coffee cup tasted as if it were the first and also every single one since.
I thought of my children in the sukkah in upstate New York with their father and his family and hoped they had a festive, and then a restful, night.
I thought of my husband waking in the carriage house behind his parents’ Dupont Circle brownstone, readying for a full day of work travel.
And then I leaned back against my familiar soft pillows and rested in the notion that I was in no rush. The day would wait for me and it would extend for as long as I wished to inhabit it.
Now, the day is closing in and the hush of the highway traffic still runs. My backyard is yellow and green, and the plants are still in the autumn coming, with the end so near.
In the mid-summer, we took my daughter’s turtle to a nature preserve a few miles from our home and said goodbye. The turtle scampered into the muddy brush, one tentative foot extended, then a quick slide into the place it would call home.
Its existence in my basement was fine. We fed her, cleaned her water, talked to her, tapped at the glass.
But we knew that her real destiny was not to be our pet.
No, she had to slip into a natural habitat and swim like she was born to do. Forage for plants, bask in the sun, hide from predators.
We all must inhabit our destinies. The only problem is when we can’t quite figure out what it is.
And then we need to find the stillness. Only then can we pull within, growing close to our own beating heart, listening the the pulse that is so familiar but which we are used to ignoring.
In the silence, we find the truth.