How many times in my life have a put off a critical decision, a dream, something I have really wanted to do? I can think of a few times and I imagine you can, too.
In one case, I waited for a few years to pursue something I really wanted. The obstacles and excuses getting in the way were several. One was laziness, fear of the time commitment involved and the energy that would be required. Another was fear that I wouldn’t be good, psyching myself out before even trying. The obstacle that was most difficult, subtle, and slippery was future thinking, not giving up on what I wanted to do, but deferring it to “someday.”
In the famous poem Harlem by Langston Hughes, he asks, “What happens to a dream deferred?”
My version of future thinking included the notion that someday I would have more time, energy, motivation, creative juices, money and less stress, way less stress. Safely located in that future utopia, and only then, would I finally be able to act on my dream.
I have been fortunate to experience dreams coming true. When they do, for me, it always feels like a combination of hard work and luck. Dreams coming true also seem to happen on a different timeline than the quick-and-easy version of my imagination. Unlike buying a lottery ticket and hoping for the best, most dreams take heartfelt inspiration, effort of will, planning, discipline, reality-testing, and actions, step-by-step over time.
What am I waiting for? What are you waiting for? What are we waiting for? I read Harlem to mean that when the dream explodes it becomes real, incarnate, kind of like the big bang. When we have put our dreams on hold, the explosion is an opportunity to begin, to start something. Our excuses and obstacles may vary, but there is power in identifying them, in knowing them consciously. Then we can make a plan and put it into action, one day at a time. Even if it takes years, we can smile, knowing we are pursuing our dreams.