Friday, December 30, 2011
Once Upon a Dream
When I was a child, I wanted to be an archaeologist. There was nothing more appealing than the thought of hot sand, a warm sun, a tropical breeze, and uncovering vast hidden treasures. To imagine the feel as I knelt in the sand, my knees covered in the soft grains, the sound of bristles of the finest brushes scraping over the rock. Bit by bit, sand would give way to the most fascinating of wonders; fossils, pottery, skeletons, buildings, tombs, an entire frozen sitting at the tips of my fingers waiting to be unearthed. It was a discovery that called to me, the thrill of adventure, the knowledge of an ancient past riddle with secrets.
It sounds romantic, doesn't it? It's enticing, enthralling, and a siren call. If you close your eyes, perhaps you'll be able to feel the warmth of the sun, the hot wind brushing sand against your cheeks in a gentle caress. Your muscles are tired, fatigued is seeping into you, your tongue begs for even the smallest bit of water but it's rewarding. To discover something new to this world, something no one has laid eyes upon, you found.
If this calls to me so much, why am I not striving to be an archaeologist now? Why do I not have brushes in my hand, boots on my feet, a hat on my head, and why am I not trekking through ankle deep sand?
As most people grow older, they tend to lose their sense of wonder. Suddenly, a rainbow is no longer just colors in the sky, there is an actual reason for a rainbow. There is a scientific fact as to what exactly a rainbow is. Suddenly gravity exists and it is impossible to fly without a plane. Rain is no longer tears from the sky, it becomes hydrogen and oxygen. It's suddenly no longer logical to want to own your own tractor trailer because of how much fuel they take. Becoming a race car driver is no longer something attainable to most because of the break neck speeds, how hard it is to become sponsored, or how difficult it is to obtain a car. Becoming a famous sports player grows more difficult because of the sheer statistics of who succeeds at such and how rare it is to get scouted.
Now, becoming a race car driver, sports player, or owning your own tractor trailer isn't an impossible dream at all. There are people every day that accomplish those exact dreams. What makes those dreams so difficult is not the statistics, or that you need natural talent for them, or how much it costs to achieve those dreams. What makes dreams difficult is that people grow discouraged.
Let me tell you a reoccurring story:
I wanted to be an archaelogist with every fiber of my being. It was the biggest dream I had, it was the career choice I wanted, and to this day, I still feel the appeal for it. I had always loved knowledge, I love learning, I loved studying, just processing new information was something I loved and still to this day actively seek out. With my heart set, I proclaimed my career choice happy. I wanted to be in Egypt. I wanted to find tombs. I wanted to see their pottery. I wanted to press my hand against one of the pyramids. I wanted to travel through their small markets and look at herbs and trinkets. I wanted to study their Gods. I wanted to learn as much of their language as I could -both ancient and modern. I would spend hours as a young child watching documentaries on the tombs, mummification, I would pour over as many books about the wonderful place as I could get my hands on.
It was when I was about seven years old that dream was shattered. When I told my mother what I wanted to be when I grew up, the results were not pleasant. I was informed by her that it was a terrible career choice. It cost an extreme amount of money to secure dig sites, that I'd be out in the hot sun for hours on end. I'd catch diseases from opening tombs, that there would be nothing for me to discover because most of the artifacts in Egypt had already been discovered. That I would be stuck on the same dig site for 20 years at a time. That no one would take me seriously because I was a woman and in Egypt women were not respected and I would get no where in this field. That because I disliked bugs I would not be able to dig because I would be digging in the dirt and come in contact with them. To sum up the very long conversation, she told me I was not suited for this job and it was foolish to do.
Please note, all those views above are of my mother's, not my own. But at the age of seven, such a conversation can be heartbreaking. Children at that age still believe in Santa most often. It was a bit much to tell me my dream was pointless. I took my mother's words to heart and decided to settle on a new career.
My choice now was to become a veterinarian. I had always loved all manners of creatures. I was fascinated by exotic ones; snakes, frogs, lizards in all shapes and sizes. I had a love for bats, canines, felines, hamsters, ferrets, (I still have a massive dislike for all rabbits though), and so much more. I even loved horses, sheep, cows, all manner of farm animals. Since I enjoyed them so much, I thought that caring for them would be the best profession for me.
Once again, my mother discovered my new choice of career. She has an intense dislike for all animals, from cats, to dogs, to snakes, to even the smallest of creature. She always has hated animals and made it well known. When she discovered my new career choice once again I was hit with a great amount of disdain. Again I was told how this was a terrible career for me. That since I had a slightly squeamish stomach and my own blood bothered me that I would never be able to be a doctor. I would not be able to handle caring for the animals, giving them shots, or doing surgeries on them. To be a veterinarian it would require at least ten years of schooling. This career was also completely impractical for me.
I think the similar trend is starting to be noticed. For years, this was a continuing cycle, every career I would find, my mother would scorn and offer no encouragment at all. Exactly opposite, she would do all she could to discourage me from my path. The only career that suited her for me to be was a college professor of either Philosophy or English. Neither of those careers suited my interests. I wanted something fascinating, something that was similar in methods but the results were constantly changing. I didn't want to repeat the same thing day in and day out. I wanted new discovers, I wanted the change to continue learning as I worked.
To this day, yes, my current career choice is of no interest to my mother, but then her and I do not have much to say to each other. If you are curious, I am striving to become a botanist, a research whom's main focus is genetic engineering and plant breeding. But that is merely a stepping stone. My true desire is to someday own a natural medicine shop.
Looking back on those careers, are they truly so impossible to achieve? I don't think so. No doubt, every career has challenges that are needed to overcome but nothing is impossible. The true error is to give up before even starting. I was told once, "if you have the faith of a mustard seed, you can move a mountain."
I think yes, my mother probably wanted the best for me in her way. No parent likes to see their child struggle through difficulties, but without mistakes, we would not learn. There is only so much advice you can give before you have to step back and let someone make their own choices, for it is their life to live in the end.
Why is something considered a dream? Are dreams something unattainable? Are you also guilty of thinking, "this isn't rational to do. I can't achieve this. I am setting my goals too high. I need to find something more logical to attain. It's only a dream."
Are you settling? Are you assuming that with the best of your abilities you cannot achieve something? That your best is not good enough? That there is no point in truly striving to get what you wish of life?
There is no 'can't'. There is only the disbelief in yourself. The doubt that your all is not good enough. We are our own worse critics.
Pull that dream out of the closet, take a good hard look at it. Examine it from all angles. Perhaps take the time and read up upon that career or that dream you once had. Why was being race car driver impossible again? Read some stories of the people who have accomplished it and why they did so. Find out who truly encouraged them, not who discouraged them. Perhaps that dream is old and forgotten. Put it back in the closet again and let it rest.
Now take this time and make a new dream, and it doesn't matter how outrageous to you it seems. If you truly want it, dream of it. Set a goal, and make it happen. Take small steps if you need to, but each step is a moment closer to achieving your dream. Perhaps you always wanted to write a book, if you wrote a page a day? How many pages would you have done in a year? Maybe a paragraph a day even. You would still have your dream finished in only a few years.
Dreams seem impossible because they seem so large. They are meant to be. If something could be achieved in a day, would it really be a dream?
I hope you enjoyed reading, as always.