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Saturday, June 4, 2011

What is your impossible dream?

What do you dream about on the days or nights when you are the woman or man of La Mancha? Do you imagine jousts with knights errant, or do you find yourself wondering how you ended up in front of some broken down windmill? How do you sort out how and when to let your dream take flight from its protective cage? Because like all cages, not only does it keep other things from getting in, it keeps the contents from getting out.

I was reading about John Grisham this morning, a talented writer who has a couple of new books coming out. Apparently he dreamed of playing baseball, which, of course, occurred before he became an attorney. And then as an attorney he apparently realized that he needed to write. And he wrote at the same time during which he practiced law, making time to encourage his new dream. And it happened. He became a multi-published, best selling author. It is quite a story to consider.

I think of staring at windmills on the days when my career, my day job, hits some bumps. Those days when nothing seems to quite fall into place, when other people don't seem to want to cooperate, or when my mental wherewithal feels more like mental wherediditgo. I call these days my bookstore fantasy days. I daydream about opening a bookstore, being around people who love books, maybe have some coffee brewing, emitting that wonderful scent that fills the room and tickles the noses of the browsers who walk the aisles. And to support my other hobby, collecting fine pens, there would be pens and pads and folios and desk objects for sale as well. Leather chairs. The ticking of a grandfather clock.

My daydream usually ends when I start thinking that, somewhere out there, a bookstore owner sits daydreaming, wondering what it would be like to be practicing law or medicine or running a mom and pop diner. Convergent and divergent dreams. Maybe we could set up a site that arranges for career swaps for peoples whose divergent dreams reflect opportunities for others. Dream swapping!

Writers write. That is what makes them different from attorneys or bookstore owners or professional football players. Writers need dreams to guide them, to prompt them, and to provide a carrot on the stick as motivation for letting the BIG dream out of the cage. Until we do, it has no chance. But the moment we do let it out there, like a graceful messenger pigeon, we become acutely aware of all the obstacles, rejections, abandonment, criticisms, and other hazards that might slow its course or intercept it or send it--gasp--spinning to the ground.

Today, as you read this, think about your big dream. Think about the next step you might take to unhook the cage door and coax the dream out into the world. And recognize that the odds of your dream coming true increases proportionally to the number of times you engage in some action to nurture your vision.

Are you with me? Pick up your sword, mount your trusty steed, kick up some dust, and off we go!

Write on!