Month: March 2013
The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the Dreams shall never die.
As the Cooper brothers sang, “Dreams never die, just the dreamer”. Growing up, most of us had huge dreams and unrealistic expectations. We dreamed of being rock stars and rich tycoons. The world lay before us, our oyster as the cliché goes, and anything was possible.
Then reality kicked us between the legs and throat-punched some of our dreams.
If you’re anything like me, and I know I am, then you have realized that life has not always turned out the way you thought it would. I had no idea that I would be living and doing the things I am now. It’s not a bad life, it’s just a different one.
Time has a way of healing hurts, or so the cognitive distortion goes. It also has a way of killing dreams and shoving reality in your face. That storybook romance you signed up for has turned out, after a number of mind-numbing years, to be a series of boring and hurtful years with someone who does not understand you and never will. By now, if you are close to forty, you have a storehouse of trauma to deal with, or not deal with. The older you get the harder it is to be an optimist. We become realists about life, or pessimists, if we are honest enough to admit it. If you have ever found yourself almost yelling at a wedding, “Don’t do it!”, then I’m talking to you.
I have developed a theory which I call the “37 year itch”. This theory propounds that somewhere around the age of 37-45 women (and obviously some men) who are married or in a long-term relationship wake up one morning and look at the aging, snoring, drooling person beside them and realize that they do not want to spend the rest of their life waking up to this schmuck. The children are in school now, their career has been stunted, and the thought of forty more years with Mr. Entertainment is too much. You would be shocked at the number of marriages that end when the players are in their late thirties and early forties. A majority of these break-ups are initiated by the woman (in a heterosexual relationship… and obviously in a lesbian relationship…).
Dreams never die – if only it were so. Some of us become afraid to dream any more. Dreams can remind us of our failures, of opportunities lost, of hopes deferred.
It’s not too late to dream again. Your mature dreams may not involve superpowers or thirty-day orgasms, but they can still be amazing. Every time I hear of a fifty year old going back to university or a grandfather dating again I believe in dreams. Every time a woman has the guts to try again, or a person believes they can be whole again, I believe in dreams. Here’s to everyone who didn’t have the brains to stop while you were behind, who started something wonderful, who faced down their fears and rebuilt their world. Here’s to those of you who are too stupid to quit. It is a powerful thing when someone dares to hope.
Here’s to hope.
I love this quote from Shawshank Redemption. Red, the narrator, is finally released from prison after a lifetime of incarceration and decides to get on with living, ” I find I’m so excited, I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it’s the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend, and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope.”
May you be free.
- Obsession (scott-williams.ca)
- Lowering Your Expectations (scott-williams.ca)
- Blame It On The Jews (scott-williams.ca)
- Refusing To Let Go (scott-williams.ca)
I’m Disappointed In You
Have you ever had someone in your life who seemed constantly disappointed in you? It didn’t seem to matter how hard you tried, it was never enough. Sometimes they didn’t have to even say much, you just knew – you are a loser, you will never be worthy.
I know what it is like to live with disappointment. It was a glib smile and a few words, a gentle sigh. I failed again. In my particular case it made me needy, so very needy. Dedicating every waking minute to impress, to please, to do, didn’t seem to matter. Disappointed again.
Maybe it was your dad, or your mom, a relative or a friend. For many of us it was our spouse – a wife or a boyfriend whose expectations and selfishness bruised and ultimately scarred your heart.
Poor self-esteem. Bad self-image. Feelings of inadequacy. Second-guessing yourself. Minimizing your accomplishments. Squinting in the mirror. Fear. Doubt. Self-loathing. Pain. Never good enough. Loser. Pathetic. Bitch.
On some level we all know that it is our own responsibility to feel good about ourselves. In theory. In practice, when someone whose opinion is supposed to matter denigrates and often subtly destroys our wholeness, it is very difficult to feel worthwhile. We know we are not supposed to base our self-esteem on others but how do you do that?
Quick quiz – If ten people tell you that you are beautiful and one person tells you that you are ugly, which one will you remember?
I wonder if the reason we believe the insult is because somewhere, down deep perhaps, we believe them. Many of us have been told we are ugly or fat or stupid or bald or pathetic or worthless all our lives. How can we possibly have good self-esteem now?
The truth: The opposite of bad self-esteem is not good self-esteem. The opposite of bad self-esteem is self-acceptance.
The truth is, you may always be fat. You may always be bald. Joan Rivers is scary proof that plastic surgery can only take you so far. You may be considered ugly by the beautiful. You may never go to college. You probably will never be famous. Or rich. Or even successful. And you get cry all you want and rail against the system, get angry and frustrated and die in a flaming manure-ball of bitterness. I see people every day who absolutely refuse to accept their illness, or their spouse, or their saggy boobs. I know how they feel. There are seemingly countless things I don’t like about myself. Nobody needs to point our my flaws, I see them in glaring technicolor. You don’t need to be disappointed in me, I can do quite fine on my own, thanks.
One day I woke up and realized in retrospect that I was living my life to impress someone who was incapable of accepting me or loving me for who I really was. I understood that I had been running myself sick trying to earn her love, only to hear her sigh with disapproval. I still care about this person, actually very much, but no longer feel compelled to sacrifice my soul for a smile and a nod.
Emotional wholeness rarely comes by accident.
‘Today You are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.’ Dr. Suess
Making You Happy
“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”
― John Lennon
Happiness is fleeting. I hate to disagree with a philosopher of Lennon’s stature but pursuing happiness can be a difficult journey. Spending my life looking for the next happiness can be a frustrating and hope-crushing proposition. And who can even say what happiness is, anyway? Perhaps happiness is nothing more than a pervading sense of contentment. Maybe happiness is found in the realization of what your life means, or who you are, or what you are about. For a few years of my life I know I was very very happy when I was high.
And ultimately that is the point. Happiness is, by its very lack of pragmatic definition, difficult to pin down. Often we only realize we are happy when we look back and realize that those days, the ones in which we were struggling and living day-to-day, were in fact our happiest times. Who knows, someday you may just look back and think these days, these stressed out busy days, were our best days.
For me, happiness is knowing I am doing something worthwhile with my life, with people I love. Happiness is making a difference. Happiness is holding my new grandson Angus. Happiness is hope, and laughing, and my kids and kissing Annette. Happiness is family. Happiness is… God forbid… am I content?
Happiness is less exciting than it once was, perhaps. Less exciting… but real.
George Bernard Shaw – This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one: the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown out on the scrap heap and being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.”
- External Happiness: An American Syndrome (kiss951.cbslocal.com)
- Life is Boring (scott-williams.ca)