Thursday, July 28, 2011

wholly strange and new

Alternative Paths by Jonathan Fields (Trust 30 Post 6)

When good is near you, when you have life in yourself, it is not by any known or accustomed way; you shall not discern the foot-prints of any other; you shall not see the face of man; you shall not hear any name; the way, the thought, the good, shall be wholly strange and new. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • The world buzzes about goals and visions. Focus. Create a vivid picture of exactly where you want to go. Dream big, then don’t let anything or anyone stop you. The problem, as Daniel Gilbert wrote in Stumbling Upon Happiness, is that we’re horrible at forecasting how we’ll really feel 10 or 20 years from now – once we’ve gotten what we dreamed of. Often, we get there only to say, “That’s not what I thought it would be,” and ask, “What now?” Ambition is good. Blind ambition is not. It blocks out not only distraction, but the many opportunities that might take you off course but that may also lead you in a new direction. Consistent daily action is only a virtue when bundled with a willingness to remain open to the unknown. In this exercise, look at your current quest and ask, “What alternative opportunities, interpretations and paths am I not seeing?” They’re always there, but you’ve got to choose to see them.
I love Jonathan Fields - I believe I've mentioned that before - so I was excited to see a prompt from him in the Trust 30 line-up. This also relates to a conversation I had recently with Miss Lady (who I have to find a new nickname for now that she's married ... hmm ... another time) - we were talking about my relationship and how much fun I'm having and speculating and she said, "but what about your dreams - this isn't what you said last year?"

The specific part of 'last year' that she was referring to was a visioning/planning workshop that we did with Jenn Ziebart of Empower Inquiry in which we dreamed as big as we could about our lives 20 years from now, and then worked backwards to 5 years and 1 year from now. It was a fabulous exercise - Jenn has some amazing tools that got us really thinking big - not pie in the sky big. More like who we really are big.

I dreamed, as I have since I was 17, of returning to Africa. It was all very Isek Dinesen with sweeping high plain vistas and giraffes loping through my back yard. There were fair doses of saving people from themselves and each other, and perhaps a dash or two of international recognition.

I don't mean to mock myself - it really is a dream I have to return to Africa and do work there that makes a difference. But the workshop happened in a certain specific place and time. A 'recently broke up with someone' time. A time when I thought life would be so much easier if I just stayed single forever, had someone Robert Redford-esque to fly in occasionally in his Piper Twin to visit, and then leave again without getting too much in the way - and preferably without giving me syphilis.

At the workshop, I could only have single girl dreams, because I was always going to be single.

At any given time, we can only see the paths we can see. And we can't even dream of, or think to look for, other paths until we're ready to see them. But there are also other truths - what is behind the Africa dream are some aspects of who I truly am - compassionate, wanting to make a difference in the world, a lover of travel and adventure. And all of those things are parts of me that can also be expressed with different iterations.

Curt taking some time out to teach his son Reace
about Ugandan wildlife
I'm not giving up on Africa. Like my amazing cousin, who is living his dream in Uganda, I will get back there. But like other living organisms, dreams can grow and change and make room for newness as well ... and I'm more than okay with that.

BTW - if you have the ability, please support African Touch please do. The difference they are making in the lives of Ugandans is immeasurable. 

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