On a particularly frustrating day recently it occurred to me that the sum total of my present commitments and the dreams that I formulated many years ago did not appear to be a close match. On the surface my ideals and what I am actually doing everyday did not seem to be living in the same neighborhood!
What do you do when you think that your dreams got up and left in a moving van with the name “Cold Reality” painted on the side? It is a question worth answering, because I suspect a number of my friends facing the reality of mid-life are having similar experiences.
I don’t have the final answers on such matters. But I have given a lot of thought to the perceived disparity between dreams and reality. I have really tried to be honest and rooted in faith in my consideration of such concerns. Here are my very preliminary conclusions:
• Stress causes us to see our present situation in a skewed manner. I admit I am the king of blowing things way out of proportion. I openly confess that I often view the glass as half empty instead of half full. When I feel particularly discouraged, I force myself to list all of the things I am thankful on that particular day. I have always found this to be an effective attitude adjustment tool. It tends to work pretty quickly too! There is nothing quite humble gratitude. I soon determine through that listing that dreams really are intact!
• I refuse to allow circumstances to squash my dreams. When I feel like my dreams and desires are being shipped off, I use the journal once again. This time I write down all of the things I am pursuing that are important to me right now. And I am usually reminded that things are not nearly as bad as I think.
• I try not to let temporary setbacks discourage me. I will most likely finish all 5 levels of Rosetta Stone Spanish software before the end of 2011. (If all goes as planned) A few days ago I was told that it takes up to 7 years to truly know a new language well. That was a little deflating, but I bounced back quickly with a renewed attitude to learn.
• I try to listen to the right people. Years ago we had two ladies at the church where I preached with the same first name. One of those ladies is the ultimate encourager. She was consistently positive. The other person with the same name was caustic, negative, and generally unhappy with life. She spread her poison around equally. Jan always reminded me: Listen to the right “Gertrude.” (Not their real name!) I try to heed that advice everyday. I dwell on the positive Gertrude’s among us.
• I try to communicate with friends every single day. I am incredibly fortunate to have friends that go all the way back to my days of playing in the sandbox under the Willow tree at Colleen and Maureen Burke’s house. I think it is important to connect with friends in some shape or fashion everyday. They remind me that my dreams are alive and well!
The good news is that I have realized the disparity between my dreams and cold hard reality is not nearly as great as I once perceived. I am still excited about what I am doing and why I am doing it. And that is a blessing.