Dreams can come true / but be careful what you wish for...
This morning I received the final brochure for an international art exhibit I am included in Italy next month. Unfortunately I can't attend, but it is truly a honor to be included, especially in an international venue, with artists from all over the world. As I looked at the brochure, getting ready to drive my daughter to school, I suddenly realized that this had been a dream and a goal of mine, years ago, when I was a single mother, getting over a lot of personal heartbreak,caring for my newly adopted daughter, working and struggling with a career change, in the midst of complete physical and emotional exhaustion. I had started painting, and while I had been active in art in my youth, I was now rediscovering my deep passion for it, but was in the middle of such turmoil and the most demands, by far, I had ever experienced. Basically broken, but not able to collapse because of my daughter, I felt the fire and dream of art, and while I had no indication of any promise in it, I dreamed that maybe, someday, I would show my art in settings far away. It was at that time simply my dream, and it was, a long shot.
So this morning when I remembered this, the struggle of that time, the intense loneliness, exhaustion, and the small, innocent aspiration of hope, in what was by and large a dark time, and realizing that I achieved my dream, I felt suddenly so humbled, and I could not help but cry, in the realization that despite the odds, things did work out, and what seemed so impossible, was not. I felt such compassion for myself at that earlier time in my life, living under such stress and by and large alone, having left a life in another country, and having to start over again. More than anything, to see the long picture of my life, was and is, incredibly humbling.
This reminded me of another time, in Japan, probably 1996, when I was 28 years old, and living in Tokyo, studying Japanese and starting to prepare for business in Asian antiques. There is a festival in July called the Tanabata festival, based on a mythological story of star crossed lovers. The tradition is for people to write their wishes, often in the forms of poetry, and hang them on bamboo. I remember walking in downtown Harajuku, on Omote-sando, and I made a wish, and hung it on an impromptu bamboo forest prepared for the public, for something my heart really wanted.
Years later, I came to realize, my wish had been granted, but as the saying goes- be careful what you wish for. Something I had wanted, eventually brought me great heartbreak and sorrow, some of the lowest points of my life. It was something I was cognizant throughout my experiences- the fact that I made a wish, and the wish was granted, but as so often in life, circumstances do not match your hopes, dreams, or illusions about the future, or look completely different from what you imagined. But again, this is how we learn.
This also reminds me of a friend, who became a highly skilled surgeon. The type of surgery she wanted to do required nearly double the residency of normal, so she went through a tremendous investment of years of schooling and experience, and personal sacrifice. After all of this training and time, she told me of how once she started working, she thought, I don't think I want to do this...
Thinking about this brings up a few thoughts. One is dreams can be so motivating, and at very hard times, can console us and nurture our innocent parts of ourselves when the externals are very harsh. All of our dreams certainly don't come true, however, sometimes they actually can, although they will almost certainly not look like what we imagined.
Our dreams can also be destructive. We may not think about the consequences of what we seemingly wish for. Or they can so greatly take away from appreciation of what is present. So much of Buddhism focuses on mindfulness of the present, and release from unhealthy release of attachment and fixation. I believe in this, but I also believe dreams can be directives for our evolution, for good, and for bad. Ultimately, the heartbreak of my wish coming true, led me to a spiritual path, that I may not have gotten to, had I not experienced such disappointment.
I always think as adults we can lose touch with our aspirations and dreams. I try to recall my childhood mind, what excited me, what moved my imagination. I feel more connected at this time to those aspirations, than I did for a few decades. I let myself dream through my creativity, but I am more careful now, what I wish for.