key moments

I just finished reading The Alchemist yesterday and started thinking about dreams. Not the nocturnal kind, but the ones that are close to the heart. Lately I've been trying to think about life as a possibility, not so much the one chance you have to get things right. It's more of a question, kind of a what-are-you-gonna-do-today thing. And I don't mean it to be an inspirational/motivational feel-good speech... I mean, there's always that dream in your life that makes your heart beat a little faster and makes you think hopefully about tomorrow. Advertisements play on this quite a bit. Especially those retirement ones, about the twenty-something couple who wants to retire at 45 and wants to be able to buy a boat and multiple cabins on the same lake for their kids and their families to live in, etc. The idea is that you can't just follow your dreams. Instead you need to have the monetary security to follow your dreams. Hence, retirement savings plans. Work and work and work so you can get all the stuff that you need to be happy and then you'll be able to take that round the world trip. Or write your novel. Or go live in Buenos Airies. Or whatever your particular dream may be. Well, that seems to be a load to me. It seems pretty obvious that you have to be aware of the future, because it's not going to plan itself. I guess that's one of those things that everyone tells you, over and over. But what about right now? What about tomorrow?

I often feel like there will be a time when everything will come together in just the right way to make things happen for me. Because so far it seems that that's exactly what's happened. But maybe the time is right now. "Don't put off till tomorrow what you can do today." I think that's a saying. The consequence of which will be never a moment of free time, never a chance to realize the precious moment that is now. Buechner says something along these lines: Listen to your life and see it as the fathomless mystery that it is, because in the final analysis, all moments are key moments. And to paraphrase/quote Annie Dillard: The way you spend your days is the way you spend your life. That's always sobering for me. Because often I while the days away and hope that tomorrow I'll have the time to chase my dream. A bit of wasted time here and a bit of wasted time there, and suddenly life seems to be wasting away. (Are you inspired yet?) Well, I guess these are the problems, the obstacles that need overcoming.

Talking with Jesse over the weekend about monastic movements: she asked what attracted me to the idea of a monastic lifestyle (not that I'm going to be a monk, but there is something very appealing about it, isn't there?). I said that I liked that you had to rearrange your life to join. You have to give up everything and you have to be completely available to your community. And that's a beautiful thing. Often I think that we want everything to conform to us, to arrange itself around me, the individual. It's all about me, as we say. And we act as though this is the ultimate truth. But it's not, and I suppose that's hard to hear. In some way, we all know this, instinctively we understand that we are relational beings, that there is something other than just us. The thing I'm trying to get at here is that dreams are a like anything else. It's easy to have them and just be content to entertain them. In some way they bring hope and they help us to face every day. But that's not all there is. Dreams point us to something bigger. I think they connect us to the dizzying heights and depths of being. Kind of like the whole idea that you can't experience the sweetest parts of life without openning yourself up to the greatest pain. And if dreams are the sweetest parts, the greatest pain is failing. But I guess the question is: what if you never even try? Giving up before you even start.

I guess there's nothing for it. Like Mother Teresa said: a person can do no great things; only small things with great love. The dreams are realized in the small things, in the way you arrange your life and the simple things you do. You can't start by writing a novel; you start by writing a word.