Following from yesterday’s post, let’s continue our space theme. There is something exciting, inspirational, and imaginative about space travel. The song from T-Bone Burnett, “Humans From Earth” always sparked my imagination, as did Ray Bradbury’s, “The Martian Chronicles.” And there is still talk if David Bowie was from this world or not. I remember the spark in my son’s eye when asking him what he wanted to be when he grew up and he answered, “A spaceman.”
When we grow up, many of us give up the dream. The doors to the start to close and reality takes over when we enter school. You find that to enter the space program, you need to study widely and deeply math and science. If you happen to not be interested in those subjects, you give up and settle for a different, easier, or at least, more realistic path.
The wonderful thing about your journal, however, is that you can be free there. You can go in and write any crazy thing you want. You can list your five-year voyage as a Capitan of a spaceship. You can go through and again imagine what it was like to live your childhood dream of being an astronaut or anything else you might have dreamed of: tap dancing, movie star, Franciscan Monk, fire fighter, actor, rock and roll guitar player, chef, mad scientist, superhero (particularly, Green Lantern), jewelry designer, architect, botanist, or Olympic swimmer. All those professions, at least in your imagination, are open to you.
The imagination is a powerful tool. It’s good to practice using it. If you go through and imagine what you are doing, you can then take aspects of your imagined self and put them into your life.
If you had the dream to be an Olympic swimmer, maybe now is a chance to write a bit about it and take a small action. Is there a pool near your home? Or do you still crave to dance? Can you go out dancing? If you wish to act, is there a small local theatre group that may need someone? The action need not be a big one. Even purchasing a simple token or spending an hour at the natural history museum and visiting the planetarium might be enough.
Why do we go through and visit our childhood dreams? Many of us wander through life and may never fulfill our best intentions, failing to reach our potential. This is your one shot at life: there are no others. Henry David Thoreau wrote, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation, and go to the grave with the song still in them. “ By exploring your childhood dream and finding the smallest aspect of your life that you can incorporate an element or two into helps you crack the veneer of your current life and start to open it up just a bit. The small crack can chip away and give you chances to safely explore new challenges.
One of my friends lived a life selling medical devices and had a dream to play guitar. Though well into his 40s, he took a few lessons. He found a joy in playing Flamenco. Soon he started to regularly play and then started to drive his family down to vacations in Mexico. He rekindled a small dream from his childhood and added it to the hustle and bustle to help center himself.
Dare to blast off into a dream! First, take out your journal, set aside 10 minutes. Ask yourself, “If you were an astronaut, what would you be doing today?” Now set a timer and write for minutes straight. Don’t worry about the answer. You may write down, “I have no idea what to write.” That’s fine, just keep on rewriting that. Eventually you’ll tire of that and start write about fighting aliens, walking on Mars, traveling through another dimension, being sucked into the vacuum of space, or finding the Dagobah System.
Turn the page, and again set the timer for 10 minutes. Write what you wanted to be as a child. Let yourself go and realize it is fine to end up writing about the sunshine of the day and how this is stupid and you should be doing work. Expect the resistance and just keep writing. Keep repeating and responding to the phrase, “When I was a kid, I wanted to be a X”. Write as many responses as you can. After you complete this writing, go back and quickly read it. Don’t judge the writing. You’re not expecting to do any great literary masterpiece—this is just free writing and all the grammar and spelling mistakes that you can put into your journal are fine. What you are looking for is a kernel of an idea. Is there anything in your writing that resonates from when you were a child that you wish you could recapture? Anything you can take action on?
If not, don’t worry. You can come back to this exercise as many times as you like and have as many answers as you want! The more you start to look beyond the boundaries of the one life you have, the more chance you have to create a better life now.