Pardon me, have you seen my dreams?

I seem to have temporarily misplaced them.

At the cast party tonight, I had a chance to talk with the performers about things other than the show.  Most of them are in their early 20’s, and in college.

Most striking was the clarity with which they could articulate their dreams.  Their lives awaiting, they are just starting out.  Many of them expect to be working on stage, film or television – not stardom, necessarily, but expect to make a living in the performing arts.

Others?  A life of meaning as a counselor, guiding lost souls.  A beautiful young woman majoring in chemical engineering in order to develop “green” technologies – looking forward to a lifetime hobby in theater (hmmm…..).  Another is a youth theater program director – aspiring to grow the program through grants to do more community outreach for troubled youth.

There is nothing they aren’t willing to tackle.  No doors are closed.  Just like the tribe members they portray in the show, they expect to change the world.  Granted, many of them are comfortable taking a meandering path to get there, and are in no hurry to move out of their parents homes. That’s the Generation Y thing…. 

Got me thinking…

When did I let go of my dreams?  I had to think hard to even remember what they were!  As a child, I wanted to be an astronaut, an explorer, a detective, an archeologist.  I wanted to take care of broken people, cure cancer and end all wars and violence. 

I believed i could.

In high school, i wanted to embrace the role of political activist, fighting for justice, arguing limitations and derailing stupid and careless governmental intervention.  Become a citizen scientist and work for the good of mankind…

I was certain i would.

Somewhere along the way to today, I misplaced these dreams.  I was busy building the foundation of my career, working for “the man”, raising my children, maintaining a home.  Along the way, I did community service – from room mother at school to board member of the local Planned Parenthoof affiliate.  But it was always secondary to to my primary roles in life. 

To maintain a sense of “self” i indulged my hobbies – theater, doing the occasional coffeehouse gig with the guitar, farting around with my old jeep……  But it was never my dream to perform.  Certainly not my dream to spend my life covered in automotive body fluids.  

It was to serve…. It was to make things better, right wrongs and save the world.  

I’m 45, single and starting over, eligible to retire in just 5 years -when both critters will be done with undergraduate endeavors and will be financially independent.*  Perhaps I have a chance to blow the dust off a dream or two?

But what to tackle? Which worthy challenge to choose?  Local, national, global?  Where do i start?  Could i possibly do anything that would  make a difference?  Am i willing to start from the dirt floor and claw my way forward until lasting changes take hold?  Work independently or join a group?  Do i have the knowledge, skills, network, resources… the energy?  Am i too cynical, crusty and burnt out?  Am i sufficiently patient and tenacious?

Not tonight, that’s for sure.  i need some sleep.  Perchance to dream….


*No, really kids.  That’s how it’s supposed to work…

13 thoughts on “Pardon me, have you seen my dreams?

  1. I don’t think I was quite that focussed when I was younger, but I certainly believed I’d go on to do great things. I firmly believed that when I stepped out of university waving my degree, the world was at my feet. I suppose it was, but it took me a lot longer (a series of crappy jobs, a postgraduate course) to find something I wanted to do and was good at.

    In career terms, I have done pretty well. I may earn less than a couple of my friends, but I do okay, and do something I feel good about. But I never expected to be a career girl! I am now at an age where I need to come to terms with the fact I’ll probably not be a mum – how did that happen?! On the plus side, my new job’s had me too busy to spiral into my usual pre-birthday depression and self-hatred. 35 in a fortnight. Eeeek.

  2. At the risk of sounding like a platitude-spouting fool, I would say with all confidence that:

    You’re never too old to begin anew.
    The answer to “what to do?” and the motivation to do it are more likely to be found in your heart than in your mind.
    Making a commitment to yourself is pretty much the key to the magical kingdom.

    Forgive me if my words seem pedantic. That’s not at all the spirit in which I offer them.

    Much love from Baghdad-by-the-Bay…

  3. They’re probably behind the sofa cushions. 😉

    Nah, I know what you mean. But you have a wonderful opportunity coming up in a few years to start making your dreams happen again. And you’ll know what you want to do when the time comes.

    Meanwhile, having a couple of kids might not have been one of your youthful dreams, but can you imagine your life without them, and have you ever done anything better than raise them and love them with all your heart?

    The other thing about youthful dreams is that they can sometimes be pretty flaky without anything to back them up, which is why most of them never come to fruition. Also, many people think dreams ‘just come true’ when in fact they usually take a helluva lot of work.

    Anyhoodle, I’d say you’ve already made a difference to the world. And you’ve certainly made a big difference to mine. 🙂 Also, you know what they say – the best way to change the world is to live well.

  4. if i ever really ahd any dream besides finding a soul mate and living happily ever after,,, i cannot recall.. being in your forties and realizing you have no dreams is a messed up place.. i am scouring my being,, and hopefully i will locate one or two….. i hope you do too……

  5. I’m with Azahar…they’re probably behind the sofa or under the bed.

    Dreams morph, but they’re always there. Sometimes we have to filter out the detritus of life’s ‘must do’ things to hear them again. They sometimes call to you soft as a butterfly’s whisper. It’s only when we ignore their very existence that we’re in trouble. Chances are you’re living for them, even if you don’t think so. Like Az so wonderfully said, you’ll know when it’s time.

    Be happy.

  6. cat – finding a career field that you love and are good at is no small accomplishment. and happy pending b-day! 35 is still young – at least from where i sit!

    toby – not trite… i’m just waging war with the internal demons that want me to just enjoy life, fix the things i can, and not take it all too seriously…

    az – shit. always the last place you look, isn’t it? part of the wrangling is because of my children – i am done with the ‘barfing, diaper-changing’ part of child rearing, but the ‘being true to your heart’ part is still there. i’d like to set an example for them as i move ahead…

    paisley – it’s always struck me as odd that i do not have the dream of a ‘soul mate’, or ‘one and only’. it is a worthy desire – simple and extremely complex all at once. your project, Pearls Before Swine, however, is beautiful and meaningful – maybe not ‘dream’ but certainly making a difference!

    wanderer – you’ve seen my messy house, so you know there could be a family of gypsies living here that i couldn’t locate… definitely getting past the ‘must do’ portion of the competition, and exploring the ‘freestyle’ component… xoxo

  7. uw – you were ahead of your time! shame you didn’t sell the idea to a tv network when you were a kid! we played detectives for the better part of an entire summer – much to the annoyance of the neighbors. we even kept files. no digital cameras then, so we drew pictures of them! i’d kill to find that file folder in my mom’s garage one of these days…

  8. Another great post … and timely as I’ve been thinking about this very issue even more over the last few months. In fact, I just attended a seminar last Thurs in which a DARPA prgm mgr gave his spiel and left a bit disillusioned (as usual). Why do we work in an industry/organization where so much of the coolest work is too often used for the wrong reasons? It’s certainly a question which has plagued engineers, scientists, technologists for decades. The best and brightest scientists put their all into the Manhattan Project as a technical challenge, only to see the horrors of the fruits of their labor. I have the idea now to learn more about sustainable technologies and take that knowledge with me to possibly do something later which makes a positive impact. Ex: I’m currently learning about high-temp solar cells for a small sat design project I’ve come up with utilizing solar concentrators.

    Anyway, I think there’s a lot of good someone with your talent and experience could do in a technical sense if you desired. At the very least, we can all make a more positive impact just following the simple words of uncle Waldo: “Be a good animal.”

  9. I don’t recall dreaming about changing the world when I was a child and I was pregnant so young that motherhood became my life before I had time for anything else.

    my boys were grown up by the time I was 40. it took me a couple of years to get my head around the freedom that gave me but now I love it! the time I’ve spent working at the gimcrack and volunteering in vietnam has shown me that it’s never too late for a change of career and there are many opportunities to make a difference in people’s lives.

    you’re going to be able to retire at 50? you lucky lucky lucky woman

  10. tyrus – i love Uncle Waldo’s advice… a close friend, who died in 2001 discussed the concept of ‘citizen scientist’ with me – and i was able to resolve many of those issues… but it doesn’t work so well with the current environment/administration. “green” is where it’s at… if we had true leadership, then a grand challenge of ‘oil free, clean living’ (like the call to space in the 60’s) would launch a new wave of research… right. stand by for winged monkeys…

    kn – part of it is simply the ‘party girl’ calling, too. do i really want to work that hard?

    nm – it would be early retirement, with reduced annuity, but if the critters out of school, and i focus on simplified living, it’d be manageable (might have to reduce my travel habit…). i think you nailed it, though – i’m almost overwhelmed by the freedom, the possibilities… so many choices!

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