I once read somewhere that the truth taps you on the shoulder. If you ignore her she’ll stomp on your toes. Ignore her still? She’ll punch you in the gut. Finally, she’ll whack you over the head, repeatedly, until you finally pick yourself up one day, bruised and bloody, and ask ‘Why have I been ignoring the truth for so long? I’ve known about her ever since she tapped me on the shoulder.’
In much the same way my dream pursued me.
Here’s the story of how it happened.
The Story of My Dream
1. The dream is planted in me, I don’t know when. Maybe it has always been there, like the bone in my arm, growing as I do, though I don’t have the words for it yet.
2. One day, I realize it’s there. It excites me. My brain spins in a hundred directions. I feel like I’m on fire, burning from the inside. This is it! I know beyond anything else that this is what I want to do. Yes, it is unconventional. Yes, it is risky. It costs money, and I don’t have any. I could fail, and then I’ll have nothing.
3. I ignore the dream. It’s impossible, illogical. It’s not real, it’s an escape from reality. What I should really be dreaming about is a good career, making lots of money. Isn’t that what everyone wants? What I really want is a house, a car, nice vacations- tokens of a successful life. When I have those things, I’ll be happy.
4. I land a job. It’s not a good one, but it’s a start. I get restless, land another job. It’s better and I really love it. I could do it for awhile, and I do. Again, though, it’s not enough. I’m sure another job, with more money, will calm my restlessness. I take the new job. I have money, so much money! What do I do with all the money? It’s a thrill to have it, like I’m special. Like I’m better because I have it, better than I was before.
5. My job makes me miserable. It’s boring and lonely. Some days, I sit in the bathroom with my head between my knees, talking myself down from a panic attack. Every day, a voice inside my head screams at me “KIM, THIS IS NOT WHAT YOUR LIFE IS FOR.” Shut up, I say. Shut up, shut up, shut up. I’ve come this far, how can I go back? I’ve worked so hard, how can I give it all up? In my quiet moments, on the weekends when I run through the forest or when I’m alone in the house, staring at a blank piece of paper, my dream beats on inside of me. I can hear it, like a weak heartbeat.
6. One day, I am running through the woods, thinking about my dream. I can’t breathe. I’m panicky and I can’t breathe. I have to stop running. I’m alone in the woods. I say my dream out loud. I say, Kim you cannot live a life like this. You want to write, you were born to write, and you have to see the world. The panic subsides. I start running again. I take deep breaths and I realize that the only way I can fight the panic is by speaking the truth.
7. The dream exists now, and it grows bigger every day. Like a seed that lay dormant in me my whole life, I’m watering it now and it thrives. I google ‘traveling around the world’ and dozens of blogs pop up. Other people are doing this! I read One Giant Step and Seat of Our Pants every day, obsessively, I’m starving and their words are my food. I pick up the book U-Turn by Bruce Grierson off the sale rack at Powells. Its tag line draws me in: What if you woke up one morning and realized you were living the wrong life? I read it every day on the bus and it throws my life into a tail-spin. I come home from work one day and I tell Brian what I need to do. Let’s do it, he says. Really? I say. But we’ve worked so hard for all of this, how will we give it up? He says, none of this matters if we aren’t happy. I love him more then than I ever did before.
8. Every day now, we work towards the dream. We talk about it, but just amongst ourselves. I buy a world map and spread it out on the kitchen table, I trace our route out with my index finger, over and over again. I start writing again for the first time since college. I realize I put my journal down because I wasn’t living my truth, and only when I journaled was I unable to ignore it. I re-name our savings account “The World Travel Fund.” It is no longer our “nest egg.” Now it’s the pot of gold at the beginning of our rainbow.
9. When we reach the halfway point of our savings goal, we start telling people. I’m a rocket ship and every time I say it, the flames behind me roar, propelling me further. I start this blog. I send an email to our friends and family. We begin to sell our stuff. We spend our weekends working on our house, preparing to put it on the market.
10. And that’s where I am today, where we are. Mary Oliver, who is one of my all-time favorite poets, says this about the soul. She says, “This is the first, the wildest, and the wisest thing I know: that the soul exists and is built entirely out of attentiveness.”
11. This story has 11 parts, but how many parts will it have in the end? I imagine each like a brick, I lay them down in front of me, building a path towards my dream.