I wrote about unconditional love and gratitude some weeks ago, so you’re probably wondering why I’m writing about these things again. Well, I’m not writing specifically about those same topics as I shared then. Instead, I want to share about these three things together: dreams, love and gratitude.
What do I mean? To me, these things are inseparable.
My life’s dreams always included some form of love and gratitude. Those dreams have always been about true love and what it means to me. But my dreams were also my hopes for a future. They were what I thought I was meant to do.
When I was a younger man, without knowing or recognizing it, I gave up my life’s dream for what I now realize was “co-creation.” Suzanne and I co-created a life together. We shared ideals and values. We shared hopes and dreams—dreams of love, dreams of a happy home, dreams of a life together that lasted “til death do us part.”
And that’s what we had. But my grief has had a way of making forget all these things. It has made me stuck. Stuck in a rut like a car stuck in the mud.
Both my new person and in my first real relationship post loss, the people I have been with have said that I’m stuck in my head. Specifically, the new person In my life has said I spend too much time in my own world, in my head. And she’s right. I do.
This morning, I had a profound experience during my meditation practice. It made me extremely uncomfortable and unsettled. In a moment of clarity, I realized that I gave up my dreams for my own life to co-create with Suzanne, and now I feel so empty because not only do I no longer have Suzanne and our life we dreamed about sharing together, but also no longer have my own dream for what I though my life would be like before I ever met her.
So, I have lost all my dreams. But, I am grateful for what I have and what I have done. And I’m not exactly sure how to say this, it doesn’t matter. Truly. In my mediation, I realized that my dreams were just that—dreams. They didn’t come true. And in many ways, they changed.
My dream of having a successful career as a college professor or as an international maritime lawyer (or both) are no longer feasible. Nor are they what I want to do now.
I gave those dreams up when I “burned out of school”, after I had met Suzanne and fell in love. Still those dreams have lingered in my head (because they were what I “wanted” before I met Suzanne) and have turned into some sort of deep rooted shame and regret. They have haunted me, more than the ghosts of life without Suzanne.
Because of this, since Suzanne died, I have felt really stuck. This morning, during this deep meditation, I realized it has been my ego that has made me feel like—because I gave up those dreams, “and for what?”—I failed. I didn’t fail; but my ego has made me think that way.
That changed. That shifted. In my meditation, I was able to dive deeply into my heart and identify the cause of my discomfort. It was a seed planted deep inside of me that ultimately was responsible for that feeling—that feeling like I am somehow a failure and unworthy of success.
This morning, I burned away the seed. With it, I burned away the feelings of stuckness that came along for the ride.
I decided that it’s okay not to have dreams about what I want to be when I grow up. Since I’m already middle aged, I guess that if I don’t have those things I dreamed about growing up, then that’s okay. This morning, I realized it is my ego that has made me feel ashamed because I didn’t achieve those things. It has been the root cause of my self sabotage and my fear of success—my feelings of inadequacy at work and in life.
Today, I decided to let go of the shame because I didn’t achieve my dreams.
We are about to emerge into a new world. To me, it’s like we have collectively been sitting in a darkened movie theater for an afternoon matinee and are now walking out into the bright mid-afternoon sunshine. And I feel a little bit sensitive to the brightness outside.
Maybe the colors of the flowers in the garden will seem more vibrant. Maybe the air will seem more clean. Maybe the ocean will seem more blue.
Whatever it is that will emerge from this period of darkness will unfold in universal time—both for me as an individual and for the world collectively. For now, I can and will allow what happens. And I will simply “be.”
No longer feeling like I’m stuck in the dreams of my past, it feels like I can live in the moment and be grateful—truly sense a feeling of gratitude—for having had those dreams, but even more gratitude for being able to finally let those dreams go. But what about the future? What will I be when I grow up?
Well, I’m not sure what the universe has in store. The world we are living in is different. Now, we can look out upon all of the earth, sky and stars, believing in whatever you choose to believe, and see a whole new world of possibilities.
I have a dream that we will emerge a kinder, gentler, more compassionate world. Not everyone does, but I realize it’s okay to dream, as long as I don’t get stuck on those dreams for the future. Chances are they will not come true…
For now, I will dream of a more loving, kinder world. And I will dream about my own success (whatever that looks like) and no longer be stuck on feeling like a failure—simply being grateful for the experience of living and being human, for loving and hurting after losing love, for learning every time I make a mistake (not being a failure because of it), for caring and being passionate about people, animals and the planet.
And I will continue to dream and to heal. To be grateful for being here to tell my story. To live and to love.