I don’t know where the notions of what is and what isn’t possible come from. I don’t know why we, as a society, need such notions. What role do they serve? What good do they do?
All of us can think back to someone who told us not to get our hopes up, not to count on this or that. Be careful. Make a different plan, something to fall back on. When I told my mom I wanted to be an actress on Broadway, she winced and said, “Welllllllll.... Honey, listen: That’s going to be very very hard!”
She thought she was protecting me from hurt and disappointment. She meant well. It is hard to be an actress of Broadway. But it’s harder if you never try, if you give up before you find out how you fare.
The tricky thing is, most people don’t know they’re giving up. The black type of your parent’s (or teacher’s or sibling’s) words drift into your conscious brain and as you dismiss them with confidence or annoyance or irritation, an invisible cloud of doubt sinks into your unconscious where it begins to infect your dreaming heart.
As I waxed on passionately about theater and movies, my mother talked about being realistic, my little brother tried to flush the cat down the toilet, my sister lost her virginity in the bushes and my silent dad watched TV. On the outside, I pursued my dream. I graduated from prestigious acting conservatory and moved to New York to audition, to act! But the cloud of doubt was running the show during those years in that throbbing metropolis so instead of auditioning and acting, I slung hash, cavorted with the wisecracking waitstaff and slept with brooding, intense, emotionally puerile men.
Parents want to keep their kids safe. Not getting what you want feels bad and they don’t want their kids to feel bad. But not believing in what we want or love or yearn for doesn’t keep us safe; it keeps us scared. Like them.
The funny thing is, getting our hopes up, dreaming big, bigger than we might at first dare to dream, creates a feeling of safety, of trust, of ground. Inside. It doesn’t matter if what we try doesn’t work right away or even ever because when we operate from that place of belief, we take our ground with us. We’re okay with wherever we land. The outcome neither defines us nor invalidates the dream. We look around and make a new plan, taking our belief with us.
When we operate out of that place of fear, we are groundless so even if we happen to stumble upon what we wanted all along, deep inside, we feel shaky, undeserving, somehow not convinced it’s good or right or enough.
The movie, The Secret, was a turning point for me. Okay, it was flawed, yes yes, but it cracked something open in me and inside was the flesh of new beginnings. It all boiled down to putting my energy toward what I want more of rather than what I don’t want. It’s the power of intention, the simple phrase: Ask. Believe. Receive.
Ask: What do I want? This is such a powerful question. Not, what can I have? Not, what’s realistic? Not, what does everyone else want for me. No. What do I want?
Believe: Am I willing to believe I can have it, this thing I long for?
And if not, am I willing to let go of whatever stands in the way? long enough to allow the vision of that wonderful thing to seep through a pin hole? Because that’s all I need, a pin hole in the dark sky of my It Can Never Be and whoosh, it will rush through and bloom. Remember: our brains can’t tell the different between what’s real and what we imagine might or might not happen so why not feed it something that truly juices us up?
Receive: Is there anything that stands in the way of me allowing that into my life? I don’t have to analyze what stands in the way. This is important! I don’t have to examine old, unhelpful (even destructive) tracks. I can simply lay down new tracks right now.
How does one lay down new tracks? For me, it’s been by practicing this creative way of being in the world, this Asking, Believing, Receiving that comes from a belief not in what is or what has been but in what is yet to be. True not knowing creates openings and possibilities.
Martha Graham said, “Practice means to perform, over and over again, in the face of all obstacles, some act of vision, of faith, of desire. And in so doing, one becomes an athlete of God.”
I like that. An athlete of God.
I was looked at my Vision Board this morning and realized nearly every part of it has come true. It’s time to make a new one, to gather magazines and tear out every single image and phrase that makes me feel peaceful, excited, inspired.
One of them is going to be Fluffy smack in the middle of a group of happy, engaged kids.
One of them is going to be a sexy, laughing couple alone on a gorgeous beach.
One of them is going to be my memoir in the New York Times best-seller list.
One of them is going to be the most fantastically fit and vibrantly radiant woman in the prime of her life.
One of them is going to be me on stage, performing my solo show.
Because, who says it's too late for me to be on that stage? or what 50 ought to look like? or what education is required to do what job? or what Asperger’s has to mean for my family or my son?
Who says which dreams are okay to have and which aren’t?
And who says what 2010 will bring?
Well, in a way, you do.
Happy New Year.
Go get ‘em.