I have a confession to make. During the summer, I started watching the TV series “Glee.” Maybe some of you have been watching it all along, but I never got into it even though I heard from a number of people that it was fun, touching at times, and worth the trouble. But because we were out-of-town for the last couple of months and away from our usual DVR programs, we turned to Netflix and I started watching the entire 22 previous episodes online. The main reason I’m sharing my new Glee addiction is because a primary theme of the show is “Don’t Stop Believing.” And that has me thinking a lot about what I do and don’t believe—and how that has helped co-create my life.
For example, as some of you know, Thom and I are ending our two-month vacation away from the desert. To be honest it isn’t a vacation because we take our computers, our phones and do just about as much work away from home as we would if we remained. This is actually the third year that we’ve left the desert for two+ months during the summer. And as I’ve said before, we’ve had quite a few friends tell us how much they wish they could do the same. And our answer is repeatedly—“you can.”
Maybe you can’t today, or even next year, but you can set your intention, just like we did and do it too. When we returned to live in the Coachella Valley in 1990, it was a dream and a deep intention for us to spend three months every year out of the valley during the heat. It took us over 15 years to reach the two-month portion of the “dream.” And who knows when the three-month exodus will be a reality? But during the last twenty years we have been setting the goals, making decisions, working and planning toward this outcome. And I am certain that it will eventually happen.
What convinced us we could do it? It was obviously a combination of things but I can clearly remember a workshop that Thom and I took many years ago. The workshop theme was similar to “Living your Dream” or something like that. The workshop leader boldly told everyone present that they could indeed, live the life of their dreams. One person in the audience wasn’t buying the story. The man angrily raised his hand and swung it around a couple of times for emphasis. When the workshop leader finally called on him, he said, “I don’t believe that. That’s impossible. A person doesn’t always get what they want.”
The workshop leader calmly said, “And why do you believe that?”
“Because,” shouted the man, “I always wanted to be an astronaut. And look at me, I’m just an accountant.”
“No you didn’t want to be an astronaut—and let me tell you why I believe that,” said the workshop leader.
While the man in the audience sputtered a denial, the workshop leader began with, “Let’s start by me asking—what steps did you take to become an astronaut? Did you find out in school what classes you needed to master—and then take every one of them? Did you discover the physical requirements and do whatever you could to meet them? Did you bug your folks to take you to Cape Kennedy in Florida and go to space camp? What about college? What about every year of your life? Were you taking steps to be an astronaut, or steps to become an accountant?“
In other words, it doesn’t take a psychic to look at most people’s lives and see whether they are living their dreams or merely living each day as it comes to them. And don’t get me wrong. I don’t think there is anything wrong with merely living…unless you are unhappy and continually wish your life was different. We all know on some gut level that if we want a different life, then we have to change. We have to continuously take steps that will lead us to where we want to go. And while it seldom happens over night, if we stick with it long enough our dreams will unfold. Even if they don’t show up exactly as envisioned, they are close enough to make us happy and fulfilled.
But let me be clear, I’m also not suggesting that you can do physically impossible things. Much as I might want to fly, I am only going to accomplish that if I take the time to get a pilot’s license. (Flying business class is much easier!) There are obviously many things that I cannot accomplish (at least with my particular consciousness)—but the list of things I can do is usually only limited by my imagination. So, with creativity and a strong desire to escape the summer heat here in the desert, Thom and I have developed occupations and financial resources that make that dream of ours a reality. That’s one of our dreams, what are yours?
The high school students in Glee are a lot like many of us. Every one of them has lots of talent but are missing a few important ingredients—like belief in themselves and their dreams, and the willingness to stick it out even when it doesn’t look like they are winning. I’m not sure that once the regular season starts I will become a regular fan of the show. But one thing is for sure, I’ll never stop believing.
“All things are possible until they are proved impossible — and even the impossible may only be so, as of now.” –Pearl S. Buck
“I can’t believe that!” said Alice.
“Can’t you?” the queen said in a pitying tone. “Try again, draw a long breath, and shut your eyes.”
Alice laughed. “There’s no use trying,” she said. “One can’t believe impossible things.”
“I dare say you haven’t had much practice,” said the queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
–Lewis Carroll (from Alice in Wonderland)