“Grasping at things can only yield one of two results:
Either the thing you are grasping at disappears, or you yourself disappear.
It is only a matter of which occurs first.”
A year ago I arrived from Queensland, Australia in Austin, Texas to attend the first retreat of a Courage and Renewal, Leadership Academy course. I had the privilege to be the focus person in a “Clearness Committee”. My opening statement was that, “It’s been a big journey, and I’ve come a long way.” In choosing those words I was seeking to express the hugeness of physical and internal journey when arriving at the first retreat as a student.
I didn’t realise that at that point was the start of one of the most difficult and also one of the most creative phases of my life. A year ago I had various labels put on my state of mind, “depression”, “burnout”, and “grief” were a few that were relevant. Each of these can be debilitating conditions that affect different people in a range of ways. They are common to many people’s experience. My state of mind was expressed mainly as fear. I was living a fearful, uncreative life that impacted on every part of my world.
One of my harshest lessons since that first retreat nearly a year ago is learning to recreate myself. To have the courage to face my reality and the journey that emerged. Many of the things that I had attached myself to in the past were no longer there and could never be retrieved. In the words of the Quaker wisdom, “The way behind has closed”, but my experience is things have closed the way ahead has emerged.
I wrote the poem, “Where do broken dreams take me?” not as a lament but as a celebration of what lies ahead. It’s a recognition that change is constant and nothing is permanent. I had planned a desired future, dreamed about it and then it was gone.
It would be very easy to constantly lament those changes. I could be living life regretting the loss of future that I attached myself to and thinking it was going to be the only way. But, thinking this way doesn’t give life. Regret may feel like a safe haven but it requires that a person stays with an attachment to regret and in so doing losing yourself.
Being able to dream is an important part of being human. It’s what has brought humanity to where we are today. People are incredibly resourceful and creative even when facing the most adverse of situations. The biggest and best dreams have all emerged from an inner epiphany that affirms each of our humanness.
To choose to keep living means that the way ahead will continue to emerge. New dreams emerge that help create new possibilities. When understood this way life is not confined to an anxious uncertainty but a fresh appreciation of the way that closed and what lies ahead.
Where do broken dreams take me?
What future was imagined?
Splintered into a million drops of vapour,
Leaving nothing that can be grasped,
I question what was reality,
The drops of moisture remind me,
With the beads that collected,
Of dreams broken and tears shed,
And, what can never be remembered,
In the same way again.
Broken dreams are etched in my heart,
Forgetting is my heart’s desire,
Memories that keep me awake,
Regret is an easy refuge,
To evade the blows that were the breaking,
Remembering is the anxious,
Pursuit of Why?
Never to dream is the only way,
To never be broken again.