Here in California, we think of lilacs as cultivated garden shrubbery, container plants for decks, flowering in Spring. In Maine, lilacs grow in the wild, spreading into groves so large a four-year-old can build an imaginary dream house fit for fairies and elfin princes.
We start building our dreams as soon as we have the ability to articulate what our longings are and where they can take us. Although we may have no clear recollection of the first moment we heard a fairytale or an heroic journey or watched a film about baseball or rugby or corporate ownership, that spark ignited in our inarticulate brain.
That ignition gave us the words we needed to voice that dream so our subconscious could begin its lifelong work to make that dream or some part of it a reality.
The next steps are entirely in our own hands. How far we are willing to go depends on what other longings come along as we gain experience.
Emily, in my most recent novel, Salsa Dancing with Pterodactyls, has a childhood dream of performing on stage as a ballerina. As a grown woman, having a family supplants the earlier dream, though never replacing it. Emily sees her dream through, though not in the way she first envisioned.
We accumulate wants and needs, filtering as we mature, allowing for reality checks, allowing for the naysayers and the dream-crushers and the green-eyed pillagers and, worst of all, the indoctrinators.
Which of your childhood dreams have you fulfilled in some way? Which have you willingly let go? Which were stamped out of you? And which are you still working on?
As my SFSU department chairman, Thurston Womack, once said to me, “If you do it and it doesn’t work out, you can turn around. If you don’t do it, you’ll regret it the rest of your life.”
I have no regrets. You?