It’s Not Too Late to Reach For Your Wildest Dreams
When I worked as a receptionist in an oil-valve repair shop, straight out of college with my English degree, not knowing where to go next, I learned about Heraclitus.
“How you doin’ darlin’?”
“Eh, I’m okay, Tom.”
“Well, cheer up, doll. You know what they say. The only constant in life is change.”
“Oh, I like that.”
We hung up. I reminded myself I wouldn’t be a receptionist forever. Life is full of uncertainty and unpredictability. Change is constant. That’s the only true guarantee of life. Nothing stays the same.
When my son was seven years old, and my daughter was four years old, I toted them around town to preschool and social activities. My son and I witnessed many car wrecks. Ceci was too short to see out the window. Jaden had PTSD from the Year of Wrecks.
We saw a car roll across the median. We saw almost-crashes. Jaden saw pedestrians or cyclists fly in front of our car like they had a death-wish. When Jaden started having panic attacks in the car, and I said, “Honey, breathe. You’re safe right now, in the car, with your family,” he’d retort, “No, I’m not. I’m in a hunk of hurtling metal with other hunks of hurtling metal that could crash at any moment. I have no control. Cars are lethal, Mom.”
Speechless. The seven-year-old rendered me speechless.
I slammed on the brakes as someone ran a red light and crossed traffic in front of us. Jaden sucked in a worried breath while Cecilia said, “What? What’s going on? It’s no big deal,” eyes under the window, comfortable with being oblivious.
I write my memoir. I spent years living it and a few years typing it up. I revise, tweak. Revise, tweak.
There’s a writing platform I stumble on during the pandemic. Lots of gurus and writing courses are touted to help me make it. These writing platforms could be gone in the blink of an eye.
An astronaut. A garbage person. A writer. A teacher. These were my answers as a child when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. Secretly, I wanted to be a movie star, but I knew that wasn’t going to happen.
Wearing overalls and an air of confidence I didn’t have at school, I went to acting camp. I co-wrote and starred in a play inspired by the front page of The National Enquirer. I donned a vintage dress and high heels to play David’s mom in David and Lisa in ninth grade. The adrenaline hit from the stage lit me up. The compliment from the checker at Safeway built my self-confidence. I wanted to act.
In tenth grade, I didn’t make the audition cut and settled for being a stagehand. In high school, I tried out for Acting class with a dramatic monologue. Helen of Troy or something like that. I was shocked when I made it. I chickened out at the last minute and didn’t take the class.
In college, I took Acting 101. I thought it’d’ be fun. Instead, I got partnered with a student working to overcome her stage fright. It was boring and uninspired — how I felt in all my first-year college classes.
My life felt like a series of car wrecks, broken condoms, STIs, and pregnancy scares. Broken engagement. Drunk and high and lost and full of wanderlust. A lost creative wondering how the hell to grow up.
When I was a kid, I thought by the time I reached my 30s, my 40s, I’d live in a two-story house with a husband, two kids, two cars, and two pets. Life would be easy and fun. We’d kiss before we went to work and again in the evening. We’d be wealthy and our kids would be well-adjusted.
Why did I dream that dream? It wasn’t the life I knew as a kid. I hung onto it by a thin thread — this fantasy world.
Massive school debt. Two English degrees. Only one year of over twenty working at a paid full-time job. I deal with depression, anxiety, and OCD. They have been debilitating. I’ve felt like I am a vehicle — the getaway car from life opportunities.
What if I succeed? What if I fail? When I don’t try, I don’t have to find out.
Sometimes my life feels like a car wreck.
I sit down and make the revisions to my book. I hang onto the hopeful thread of signing a contract with RandomHouse or Penguin. I wonder if it’s equivalent to childhood fantasy.
I’ve spent so much of my life speeding away on autopilot in the comfort of mental illness, in the haze of inertia. I’m letting my ambition bloom. It’s messy. It feels like confronting the intensity of a car wreck.
When we dream, we have a chance of reaching our goals. When we stomp out our desires because they’re too much, too impossible, too big, there’s no chance of realizing them — because we haven’t given ourselves a chance.
Let’s give ourselves a chance.
That year we saw all the car wrecks? I lived terrified. Anxiety gripped me day-on-day. When I finally found myself loosening my grip on fear, fear loosened its grip on me.
We saw fewer car wrecks.
I started work outside the home. As a gardener. Steeped in nature. In mulch and weeds. In the nitty-gritty of life. I reveled in the base-level of things. When I saw a flattened car on the side of the highway or in the middle of the road, I sent up a prayer for the people in the vehicle, for the families, and loved ones. And, I let myself move on.
Life is unpredictable. We don’t know how long we have. It’s only change that’s certain. Float down the river of life. Adjust for the slow seasons and the white water rapids. We are resilient. We are strong. We’ve got this.
I’m going to finish my book and work on agent query letters.
What’s your dream? What will you do next?
Thank you for reading. Here’s a bit more about me: