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Follow your passion! Live the dream! Who hasn’t read at least one post about this in the past year? They are popular thoughts when people are mostly running on a hamster wheel of work, home and routine. It’s why we want to retire–to have time to live the dream. But what does that really mean? And is it really what we want?
My grandparents and parents were overachievers who found loopholes in age requirements–or those requirements didn’t exist–and made good at early ages. So my brother was disappointed in himself, already a known artist and musician, that he didn’t have a master’s degree by his 21st birthday. He had a lot going for him and didn’t see it for the degree he hadn’t got.
As we get older, we gain experiences and perspective. That way we can more accurately figure out what our passions are and what a “dream life” would be like. But if we keep the same goal-driven attitudes that got us through working life and raising families, it could mean disappointment.
Maybe your dream is to finally try your hand at writing. There are ways and ways to go about that. Try a blog, freelance, volunteer to put together a newsletter for church, write stories and see about publishing them, or self-publish a book. But if your dream requires you to get an American Book Award or make the New York Times bestseller list, you’re in for a slog. Likely that’s not dream material.
A passion worthy of your time is a consuming interest that will hold your attention and keep you active through thick and thin, whether you become the world’s greatest at it or not. If you’re a gardener and over time beat the yard into submission to generate beauty and/or yummy homegrown produce, you know what passion is. There will be bugs, dry spells, wet spells, early or late frosts, or moles. There’s always something, but through it all you stick with it and have something to be proud of.
And hey, what if your garden club puts yours on the tour of the most fabulous gardens of your community? Bonus!
A dream life
When you look at your dream life, what’s the first thing you notice? Passion, front and center, probably. With time for other important things like family, travel or whatever. Plenty of time to devote to what you want to do with the rest of your life.
And the last thing? Problems. We’ll all have them, but in your dreams we don’t. But what makes life interesting? Challenges to be overcome. They make you earn the fruits of your labor, one way or another. They can be little, like snapping a drive band on a spinning wheel, or huge, like a stock market swoon. Whatever, you have to deal.
Why dream, then, if you’re going to have reality stomping on your dream? Because you’re human, and you have imagination and maybe a little faith that, come what may, you can do something special, something your own. So when the drive band snaps, I grab a lighter and melt it back together, because that’s how to fix mine. And the stock market? Adapt like an intelligent being, as much as possible. All so the dream can go on.
Living the dream
A retired lady recently advised me to have something to retire to. She had genealogy, her passion, and she still has plenty to keep her busy. Good advice. I have strong interests in history and fiber arts that will keep me busy when I get to retire. Without even going into business or teaching or writing about these interests, I will probably have enough to do just keeping up with my projects and meetings with like-minded people.
Living your dream life may be more varied than mine if you have children to visit, events to plan, trips to take. Or it may be less so. It doesn’t matter. Without the pressure of having to achieve some huge goal, you can relax and enjoy your chosen activities for their own sake–unless you want to set a goal, such as adding a skill to your repertoire. Then by all means, enjoy!
The point of living the dream is not to jet across country to get someplace. It’s to have the adventure of the road trip in whatever you do. A picaresque novel versus the headline, if you will. The experiences you have while you take your passion from its humble beginnings to wherever you end up with it are what make life interesting.
May you live in interesting times
The famous Chinese curse may be a blessing in disguise. We didn’t get where we are today. All the messes we were in when we were younger, all the mistakes we have yet to make, are ours, and so are the things we now know as a result of making them. As long as we’re still learning, we’re still very much alive. And that counts for more every day.
We are also made up of our passions and hopes for the future. Our feelings for family and community are in there too. What do we want to put in the legacy we leave to the children and grandchildren? What kind of world would we like it to be? How do you wish to be remembered?
So may you rise to the challenges that come your way. May you get to work at something you’re passionate about. And may you find satisfaction in your chosen field of endeavor.
What’s your dream made of?