Dreaming the dream

In the inelegantly (and, in my opinion, rather misleadingly) titled Huffington Post article “6 Ugly Truths You Need To Accept To Pull Yourself Out Of A Rut,” columnist Leigh Newman asserts that “you have already dreamed the dream” of what you want to do with your life:

From what I have seen in life, I don’t think we need to go looking for some new “mystery” dream. The most important ones we’ve already had. Sure, at a very young age the idea of being a sea captain or ballet dancer occurred to us. But at an older, wiser age, we thought, “I should own a bookstore!” or “I love jam so much I should make it” or “Wouldn’t it be fun to be a tour guide in Italy?” We just failed to tie our lives to it. We let it float off, where it eventually ran out of air, sank and got buried by 1,000 other more practical or less scary or far less specific dreams.

It feels a little horrible to confront the truth that you knew what you wanted to do (even for .04 seconds) and didn’t do it. … Looking for [your dream] becomes like looking for a missing house key while still at home; there’s no need to panic. You just have to find what’s already there.

I have dreamed a lot of different dreams in my life, from being a physical therapist (in high school) to being a photographer for National Geographic (in college) to being a stay-at-home wife and mother (since, well, always). None of these dreams has panned out, obviously. I am a single work-from-home photographer, domestic engineer and dog mom, which is not quite the same thing.

At any rate, I went to see the movie “Jobs” today, which is set mostly in California’s Silicon Valley. The shots of the grounds of the Apple campus in Cupertino, in particular, roused a primal longing in me to smell the summer air in California, the state where both my parents hail from and where I spent a lot of time in my youth and early career. There’s just something about California that is, to me, different and special and yet achingly familiar. When I came home from the movie, I sat down and, thinking about old dreams, made a quick list of towns and cities there that have captured my imagination at one time or another as someplace I might like to live. Roughly north to south, they are:

  • Mt. Shasta
  • St. Helena
  • Calistoga
  • Sausalito
  • Palo Alto
  • Menlo Park
  • San Mateo
  • Santa Cruz
  • Monterey
  • Santa Barbara
  • Pasadena

My first job out of college took me to the far northern corner of the Golden State, and since I had been there many, many times as a car passenger but never as a car driver, I did what any smart young woman on her own would do and went right down to the AAA office to get myself a state map. That 1985 version, creased and cracked, is still in the side pocket of the passenger door of my car, so I pulled it out this afternoon to have another look.

Wouldn’t you know it … all those years ago, I took what appears to be a pink ballpoint pen and circled some of those very same city names.

cali-map

Click image for a larger version.

Memory does not serve as to why I circled San Gregorio and Montara; those places mean nothing to me now. I have family in Half Moon Bay and Oakland, and used to have family in San Francisco, San Mateo, Redwood City, Palo Alto and elsewhere in the area. It’s like a familiar foreign land to me, exotic and intoxicating and a little scary but fascinating just the same. (And for those of you who actually do live there, please don’t laugh at me. I’m serious!)

One thing that all the places on the list I made today have in common is crazy, outrageous, obscene, damn-near unbearable cost of living. What can I say? I have always had the very best of tastes regardless of my budget. 😉 So right this minute, none of them feels like a viable destination for me any time soon.

I am going to continue seeking that dream that is in me somewhere, the one that perhaps flickered to life for a moment last week or last year or half my lifetime ago and just as quickly flickered out or was simply hidden by more immediate and pressing concerns. There’s just no way to know where it might take me once I find it.

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