So, I told myself this would be Sunday, but it was an arbitrary day, and today is just as good. I’m afraid there comes a time in life to realize that dreams may be nothing more than dreams. To realize as only dreams the special friendship bonds that I dreamed of as a child, clearly in hopes of believing there could someday be those people who cared for me as my parents never did. Those people who could love me deeply – in the face of all that I am not – but rather in appreciation of all that I am. To accept for myself that what I am will not be the earth changing, “love will conquer all” leader that would have been better in my own mind than anything my mother wanted or expected from me, but merely a mediocre poster-writer, poet, and pretty but rather useless mandala designer, with a good heart. It isn’t a terrible thing to be. But I just still can’t help but wish for a bit more of the “love will conquer all-ing”, both in my own life, and for the sake of a world that could so use that. But it is time to be realistic, and let go of such dreams. Let go of all the conversations that I have yearned for with the people my heart cherishes, and won’t get to have. Some, admittedly a bit needy, but most just wishing to share love and gratitude. To share joy and appreciation for that opportunity to have somebody in my life who will just allow me to be unabashedly me, and to love them in that way that my heart wishes to love. These are the dreams that I have held, my fondest dreams, the prayer I have prayed nightly for sixty-two plus years, along with the wellbeing of each of those I love… just this for me. No mansions or yachts’ or photo-safaris to Kenya, just to live a life in love, and surrounded by those who will allow me to love them the way my heart so aches to do. I suppose this means little in the way I live my life. I will continue, perhaps with less abandon, to do most all the things I do. And the love in my heart for each of those I love remains unchanged, only perhaps growing ever stronger. I suppose it merely releases me from that burden of hope for destinations I was never going to reach, accomplishments that were clearly unrealistic from the start.
There are two fundamental reasons to change things. We change what we dislike, or we change what we love. Think of a tree. A tree cutter changes the tree to remove it because it is unwanted, or to remove the parts of it that are unwanted. But an arborist, or a sculptor changes the tree to make the remaining parts of the tree better. One person changes things that are unwanted, the other rather makes change to improve what remains. The same is true of us. We change in ourselves what we dislike – or we change because we love ourselves and are trying to enhance who we are. It is a matter of attitude and approach.
Yet, I would maintain that change from negativity is a more expensive proposition. There is a paper written by Christine Miserandino, called “The Spoon Theory”. It postulates that each day, each of us is given a certain number of spoons to get through the day – that represent the energy we expend. As we go through activities within the day we use up spoons. Her paper was written to illustrate that those with chronic illness use up spoons faster, and that they often use so much energy just dealing with their illness, pain, and the complications that illness brings to life, that many days they run out of spoons entirely and have none left to deal with day to day matters. And yet, each of us, not strictly those who are ill or disabled, have other factors that determine how many spoons we expend that are not directly expended to deal with normal day to day activities. There are many papers which talk about things which theoretically can reduce the number of days in our life through stress (use of spoons) – moving, dieting, changing jobs, money worries, relationship problems.
But change clearly takes spoons. Changing ourselves takes attention and effort that would otherwise be expended within our day to day activities. For most people change can co-exist within our day, without running us out of spoons – but for those who must already measure our spoons carefully, change needs to be managed and dealt with within an already tight budget of spoons.
So here it becomes more critical to approach change correctly. Again I maintain that the tree-cutter, getting rid of what is unwanted (unloved), expends more emotional energy than the sculptor, who is removing (potentially some of those same) parts of the tree to render the remaining wood into something beautiful. We need to approach our own change with the eye of a sculptor. The goal of change needs to be based in the realization that we love this object we are changing (us), and that the goal is to mold the remaining parts into something we love even more. Looking at change as a refinement process, improving what remains, instead of a surgery to remove what we dislike may seem a minor thing. But the mindset of a sculptor, working to expose something beautiful will clearly use fewer spoons than that of one who is attacking something they dislike.
So we should all consider change as something we do to improve and refine ourselves, focusing on the resulting betterment of something beautiful, rather than to focus on those things we dislike and want to remove. Change needs to be seen not as chopping down, but rather as molding and sculpting something we love.
All of my life – for as long as I can remember, I have wanted to tell a testimony to what I believe to be the truth that love can conquer all. This is what I had originally wanted my first book to be. This is what my dream was that my opera might be. All of the struggles I have gone through for the past four years (and all the years before those, but setting the goal in front of myself at that point) were trying to establish that truth in my life, so that I can tell that story. I have to build the story I want to tell before I can tell it, and that is what I have so wished to do. I want to show myself and the world that love CAN in fact conquer anything. That it can conquer autism, that it can conquer a childhood being scorned, that it can conquer fear and doubt, that it can conquer adverse circumstances. That it can soften hearts. That love can in fact conquer ALL. That is why I have seemed so driven. That is why it all means so much to me. This is the most important story the world can tell, and for a lifetime I have believed I need to tell it. Not that I can do it alone. Not that I can change the world by myself. But that of all the things there are to do in the world, this is mine. It is what I am here for.
I love sharing joy. But as one of my favorite quotes says “Friendship multiplies joy and divides sorrow.” I am always so grateful to those who are willing to be there when I am struggling. My hope always is to try to gather myself up and get back to the sharing joy part. Sometimes that is easier than others, and sometimes the mere act of sharing that joy in and of itself divides the sorrow. But, for me, it is the sharing in which I find magic. I have always felt that whenever souls join, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
This world, and the lives of each of us in it, will rise or fall on love. And the cornerstone for that success is built on trust and communication. Wars are fought on lack of trust. Marriages and friendships are lost on lack of trust. But trust cannot stand in the absence of communication. Very few people are mind readers. So many things that each of us say or do are so open to interpretation. Even within the most simple of relationships – the play of children – learning to interact with each other builds success in that play. So why does it seem such, that as adults we are so willing to shut each other out, and live within the confines of our own minds, making judgements and decisions without benefit of communications or a loving trust in one another? Lack of trust only breeds lack of trust, and causes hurt and ill-will. Trust, however, built upon open communication, breeds trust, and builds strong foundations for love and friendship, and enhances everyone involved.
I had (have!) a dream…
So, what do you do when you fear losing the dream of a lifetime – when you begin to wonder if what you have built your entire life around the hope to accomplish is completely beyond you? What do you do, when you wonder if that dream is even possible – despite your most genuine best efforts? What do you do when the realization hits that you may just not have the wherewithal or ability to find your way to that dream? You wonder if perhaps the dream was the wrong one, despite an unwavering belief that it comes from a good place in your heart. Where others dream of – and some achieve – successes in great things – where I have examples before me, as an autistic – recent examples such as Temple Grandin, and Susan Boyle; or historical examples such as Mozart, Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin – the accomplishments they aspired to and achieved were much different than my – perhaps silly – aspirations.
My dream, since I was a small child, was to make the world a kinder, softer place. Was to lead the way there by embodying the world I wanted to create – to understand humans, and humanity enough to just, honestly, be love, softness, light, and caring. To build a life having its very foundations upon a rock solid base of the very thing my childhood left me feeling deprived of….love. To do that, I knew that I would have to fight every demon that has attacked me – ward off every feeling of hurt and unfairness, and to only love. I have worked so hard to do that. The love in my heart is honestly very real. But – just as honestly it is surrounded by so many other human emotions that I wish only to have succumb to that love.
And just as honestly, the greatest of these is fear. What if I am not capable of realizing my dreams? What if my every belief that “love conquers all” is not enough to find that true in my own life? What if the phrase should only be “love conquers all but autistic bumbling?” Or “love conquers all but pervasive fear?” Can love really conquer “ALL”? Can I find that true for me? Can I find my way to that place in my life where it HAS conquered, and where the greatest of what it has conquered is my fear that I cannot prove that it can? I want that beyond anything. More than anyone could want anything, I want that. What greater motivator could there be in the world than love.
I wrote this morning about being trivial. Not that being trivial is a bad thing, but just that for many of us, likely most of us, our lives are a series of small actions that we might hope to have affect a small number of people. One of my favorite (wise) people, Papi Julio Varela, responded with the thought, that I was familiar with from his book “Black Hat Wisdom” (read it!), that we all have greatness within us, in fact, that we are all greater than we think we are. Papi responded to my post on my page, and may not have seen that when I posted my writing on WordPress, I entitled it “Is there such a thing as Trivial Greatness?… Maybe”. And I think the two are not contradictory. But Papi’s response has me thinking more about “What exactly is greatness, anyway.” What is it exactly that makes us, as Papi says, “greater than we think we are”?
As is my norm, I began with the dictionary, but found it of little apparent help. Greatness is, of course, “the quality of being great”, but what is great? According to the dictionary, great is “of an extent, amount, or intensity considerably above the normal or average”. Well, that doesn’t help, does it – because it would seem evident that everyone can’t be above average… right? But what if nobody is average… it is my belief that there is no such thing as an “average person”, because each of us is different from the other – not just in any one way – but in so many different ways. We cannot describe a flower just by saying it is yellow. “What yellow… how much yellow, what shape is it, how big is it…”, and on and on. And so much simpler, arguably, is a flower than a person. Where a simple flower defies description – so, clearly must we.
So where, in us, does that greatness lie? I would argue further, that the greatness we are does not in fact lie only inside us, but in – as my writing this morning described – how we effect those around us. Our greatness is manifested daily in each interaction we may have that has that opportunity to change the lives of those in our circle of influence. And yet beyond that, in how those actions may propagate themselves further to effect the actions of others, to perhaps change even more lives. And certainly there is greatness there. So, though we may see each individual action as trivial, collectively they are clearly not. And certainly, given that influence, each of us is great – and more certainly each of us is likely not only greater, but MUCH greater than we may think we are. In every action we take, we have that potential to begin something that can far exceed our wildest imaginings.
So if all those actions we instigate find their foundations in love, imagine what greatness we can find ahead of us. If we be great, let us be great in love…