It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that. ~J.K. Rowling, “The Mirror of Erised,” Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, 1997, spoken by the character Albus Dumbledore
I work with children every day, and the life skills teaching I provide for them is at the Learn All the Rules stage. I teach them kindness, but few of them have come into contact with truly mean people; so far it’s fairly simple for them to be kind. I teach them courage, honesty, flexibility. I teach them to dream, the standard You Can Be Anything You Want to Be! schpiel.
I firmly believe in everything I teach. But instead of leaving it at the fluff, I take my lessons further. When I teach kindness, I make my students think about times when it’s difficult to be kind. When I teach them about honesty, we talk about how sometimes the truth gets you in trouble, but how that trouble is less than what the lying trouble would be. And when I teach my students to dream, I teach them character traits that are required for their dreams:
You want to be a ballerina? You must have courage, be patient, and be responsible.
You want to be a firefighter? You must have courage, be extra responsible, and care for others.
I think it’s one of the easiest things to sit and dream. Dream of warmer weather, a better job, more friends. Dream of vacations, a new home, home remodel ideas, etc. It might even be fairly easy to get out a pen and write down a plan for said dream.
Fast forward 6 months. Where’s that list? That plan? Buried on your desk? Used as a bookmark in the novel you didn’t finish? I’ve done this so many times I can’t even count. There are lists dispersed throughout my belongings. I recently found a to-buy book list from the early 2000s. That’s ridiculous.
Yes, life gets busy and time slips away and it gets harder and harder to finish what we start. But, like Dumbledore/J.K. Rowling says, it doesn’t do to dwell in the dreams and forget to live. We make plan after plan after plan, list after list after list, and as I wrote last week (My New Theory on God) – a lot of times these things don’t even pan out the way we script them. They end up better.
So, my encouragement for you for today is to stop reading this and go do something you’ve always wanted to do. Stop making a list of to-do’s (just for today), and go DO. Go buy a book, walk around the block, reorganize your spice cabinet, call someone back, write a response e-mail, book a trip, submit your art for publication/purchase, write a birthday card. Take your “I’ve been meaning to…”‘s and… do.