When I was little, I loved to balance on the hump in the back of the car (before seat belt laws and child-seats), lean over the seat between my parents, and biff out songs at the top of my skinny voice, imagining myself on the radio someday.
Unfortunately, my pitch was as wobbly as a dug-out on the open sea. But I didn’t know that. So I kept singing.
I joined the choir in church. I even sang with a trio (shudder). I can only imagine my parents, cringing and enduring the sympathetic, indulgent smiles sliding across the pews as blithely, I warbled on.
I was 12 when I realized my dreams of stardom would be an elusive thing and regretfully donned shin-high white plastic boots to become a go-go dancer for the neighbourhood garage band (cardboard gee-tars, box drums, sandpaper blocks and a cowbell). I’m not sure I did any better with the dance thing. Later I stumbled through a few dance lessons, before my clumsy feet mortified me into quitting.
A friend of mine is a professional ballet instructor and she tells me that there are many talented ballerinas; dancers who give themselves entirely to this disciplined life, but if they do not have the right feet and body type, they will never quite make it to the top.
You can’t change your feet, no matter how hard you try. (Believe me, if I could have, I would have. My feet and I have not enjoyed a loving relationship. They were infamous in high school. Ask my friends.)
I see so many people in single-minded pursuit of a dream; and some of them always battling some obstacle or roadblock. Sometimes I watch other elements of their life dwindle away because of their commitment to This Dream. It causes me to think about the nature of the dreams we carry with us.
I’ve never been a really big dreamer, but have had many small dreams through my life…skills or talents or achievements or material things I longed for with all of my heart, but that no amount of wishing or learning or working or manipulating would bring to reality. Perhaps I gave up too easily, but often these pursuits were heartbreaking, discouraging, demoralizing, and I carried those failures forward with me.
I wonder if dreams are meant to be so heavy.
“The passionate pursuit of dreams sets your soul soaring; expectations that measure the dream’s success tie stones around your soul.” Sarah Ban Breathnach
I’m not saying that dreams are not worth fighting for — certainly the purpose of a dream is to pull us beyond our boundaries — but maybe it’s worth examining why This Dream is so damn important. I think sometimes you have to pick that old heavy rock of a Dream up, turn it over and look beneath to see what is really there. Is it money, recognition, status, power, ambition, security, envy?
Or is it someone else’s Dream?
Maybe it’s not even your own feet that want to dance. Or your voice that wants to sing. Maybe you just want to be seen or heard. Maybe – just maybe – it’s the shape of the Dream that is all wrong.
I was sitting on the sofa one evening, watching one of those musical performances that brings an ache to every cell in your body. My old feelings of singing-envy rose to the surface. “Why couldn’t I have a voice like that?’ I whispered as the soloist finished, tears brimming my eyes.
My husband turned to me and, in one of those inspired moments when he found exactly the right words, he said, “You do,” he said, “but your voice is on the page.”
At times such as this, my love for him becomes too big for words.
I think that sometimes you just have to be brutally honest with yourself and admit…This Dream – as lovely as it is – is simply not what I was made for.
I think most of us have laboured for such a Dream and spent so much energy trying to achieve it, swimming against the current that is our own internal rhythm and rhyme, determined to succeed, when hidden beneath that Dream is a need no achievement or acquisition or success can ever fill.
And that in this Dream’s dismantling — in its shadow — we may find the path to an incredible destiny that has lain dormant and wasted. A destiny that we are perfectly suited for, with all our inherent and learned talents and abilities, just waiting to be realized and recognized.
I cannot change my feet – or my voice – but I can choose how I use them to dream.
“It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living,
part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.”
~ Eph 1:11-12 The Message