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page twenty-seven: Living the Dream

A few years ago, I was clothes shopping, looking for a top to wear on my walks. Nothing fancy, just something casual and simple. Feeling rather positive that day, I ended up buying a shirt that matched my mood. It had the words: “Living the Dream” in big bold letters across it. I have since worn it many times, often barely even aware of the message on the shirt.

One morning recently, I was ready for my walk and was just slipping my feet into my shoes, when I looked around and noticed how dirty our house had gotten. The couple who usually tidies up our home was away on vacation, I remembered. Unable to unsee the mess, I sighed and putting off my plans to go out on a walk, decided to take up some serious cleaning instead.

After some essential straightening up and vacuuming, it was time to tackle the toilet. As I entered that private space, I suddenly caught my reflection in the mirror. Cleaning supplies in one hand, toilet brush in the other, my expression was very much mission driven. Then my eyes fell upon the words on my shirt: “Living the Dream.” Indeed. I burst out laughing!!

An hour later, now off on my walk, I was still chuckling, with the image fresh in my memory. I was living the dream alright, although it did not always feel like a “dream.” The word “dream” is so interesting and nuanced! I think of the ways we use it. The “Dream job,” the “Dream partnership,” the “Dream family” and so on. It suggests a perfect reality, a place that we could enter into if only we made all the right choices and worked really hard.

Then we use the word Dream as a verb, a voluntary, proactive step to co-creating a life for ourselves. Books and teachings on manifestation encourage us to dream up our best life to move from passively living out our fate to materializing something intentionally.

Once again, the idea is that a perfect life is possible and it is our responsibility to make it happen.

I bought into that idea as a child and it weighed heavily upon me, even then. On the one hand it inspired me to work hard, but on the other, it created great angst when it came to decision making. Simple choices, so much as, do I go out to play or do I finish my homework first, do I wear the pretty pink dress or the new yellow one, this friend or that one, had me thinking hard to make the right one.

As an adult the stakes were higher: choices about career, relationships, where to live and what to live by. All this thinking powered by the fear that the wrong choice would cause me to miss the bus to a perfect experience!

Tired of carrying the burden of responsibility, I would often leave it to someone else to choose for me. If things went wrong, at least I wouldn’t be the donkey upon whom the tail of blame could be pinned!

Many, many, choices, decisions, and dreams later, I have finally realized that life is not as black and white as it seems. We are all operating in the grey. Even when we make our best, informed, choice, believing we are choosing happiness over unhappiness, pleasure over pain, or right over wrong, there is no decision, path or choice that is 100% happy, pleasurable, or right. There is no dream that does not at some point or the other feel like a nightmare. Every choice is ultimately choosing not only a destination but also the journey that comes with it. And all the roads are bumpy! Whether we know it or not, we are choosing between small and big bumps, quick and long, drawn bumps or some such other variation. One way or another, there is no escape from the ups and downs along the way. So we might as well enjoy the small and big victories within the package.

When we do not enjoy the dream nor can wake up from it, we could blame, analyze, and regret the past that brought us here. We could plan, predict, and prepare for a reprieve in the future. But those are our ways of fighting the dream or escaping it. To live the dream is to be present to the here and now, feeling its many feelings, meanings, and anomalies. It is opening up to the possibilities in the here and now even when it seems like a dead end.

Philosophers say that life itself is a dream. And it does seem so. Years go by in the blink of an eye. Time makes yesterday’s dreams become today’s memories. Living the dream may not always mean loving or enjoying it. It is choosing to enter the experience, knowing that good or bad, it too shall pass. And sometimes, it is taking a good look at ourselves in the mirror and laughing out loud!


Pages from My Journal

by Ramaa

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