Dreaming is a form of planning.
I love this idea. It’s not my own; I read it in an Instagram post, and if the Internet can be trusted in this case, it is a loose translation of a Gloria Steinem quote.
When I saw it, I thought to myself, “Yesss! That’s exactly what I want.”
The idea is the opposite of what I suggested last week, that New Year’s Resolutions need serious infrastructure beneath them to become reality. I still believe that’s true about the infrastructure part, but I don’t want to suggest the discipline of planning should squash dreams.
We need both identities: the dreamer architect and the grounded engineer.
Dreams are the language of vision and imagination. They’re the domain of our emotions and deepest desires, which isn’t fluffy stuff but useful info in guiding us toward a life of higher vibration. (I love that expression, “higher vibration.”)
Truth be told, I might be into dreaming right now because I’ve been operating in engineer mode for a long time. This past year has necessitated tons of structure as I’ve been building my fledgling business. My brain is on overdrive with integrating new technologies, developing online marketing strategies, and honing my niche in the coaching world.
What I love about my engineer mode is it is hard-won, the result of years of personal growth. Getting to this place of resiliency and bravery required clearing out the spiritual and emotional clutter that kept me from it for a long time. (I could write a ton about only this, so for now I’ll bottom-line it to say that the journey is ongoing; it’s about prayer, and listening, and learning, and meditating, and discovering.)
My experience is one reason why I’m excited to help others find their way, too. I want to live in a world where more people are finding fulfillment and mastery in their lives. Selfishly, I want to be inspired by everyone around me.
And then . . . as I was writing this, I paused at this point. I began with the intention to speak from the heart – that’s what the quote was calling me to do – and yet I found myself still processing from my head.
What happens if we slough off logic and just feel our dreams? Like radically eliminate the structure – even of language – and open to another way?
I made up a little experiment that I encourage you to try if you’re feeling me now.
I set aside my goals for a minute – yes, the ones I just wrote down on January 1 – and let myself feel the dreams beneath the goals. The ones that are most human and universal, at the intersection of love, intimacy, security, adventure, mattering . . . the deepest ones.
And in my at-my-computer meditation, I saw this: A ripe peach in my cupped hands. It is perfectly firm, round and juicy, and with some tender bruises.
If life is the ripe peach, the unfulfilled dreams are the soft spots.
You know that place of self-discovery that feels physical, like you can’t stand to sit and have to dance or jump around? It happens to me most often when I write. I like to imagine it’s my brain rewiring. It’s restless legs syndrome (hey, is that still a thing?) but all over my body, and it can be so uncomfortable that I have to get up from my work and do something entirely different.
This time, imagining that ripe peach, I grabbed my keys, drove to Dillard’s, and bought a new lip gloss. True story. It’s a lovely fuchsia pink.
We all have bruises because life bangs us up. I’m not going to write about mine here, or advocate that you share yours with just anyone either. This is a time for choosing your confidants wisely. The general public cannot be trusted with our deepest desires because it is not a safe environment. At least, not at first.
I used to believe that putting it all out there – exposing one’s self in art, or writing, or community – was the best way to create something truly remarkable. I also figured that radical transparency could neutralize, or reclaim, pain. Don’t writers, celebrities, and public figures who reveal all seem immune to comment or criticism?
It’s only half the story.
Yes, secrets can bind us in shame. But we tend jump to the big reveal way too quickly.
We live in a world of brokenness and suffering. That’s a fact. Articulating pain is critical, and so is telling the truth and living out loud. Also, many of us do find healing and kinship in other people’s brave stories.
But I don’t recommend that anyone embrace radial exposure before doing the more quiet, focused work of healing first.
Dreams can be a bit timid, and sometimes the ones we are most afraid to speak are clinging tightly to our injuries. Without protection, they’re scared to crawl out, and who can blame them?
Make a quiet, safe space – in your soul, your home, your trustworthy relationships – until your dreams are ready to emerge. Then, sit still. Speak gently. Let them climb into your lap.
I’m Stephanie. I’m a writer, coach, and facilitator. I work with individuals, teams and leaders in creative, entrepreneurial, and nonprofit fields to improve communication, find a true purpose, and deepen connection and meaning. If you enjoyed this post, share it with a friend! And I’d love it if you would subscribe to my email list, below.