“Sebastian! Why don’t you do what you dream?”
– the Childlike Empress in “The Neverending Story” (the movie – I don’t believe that line is actually in the book, but it made for high drama at the climax of the film… sort of…)
(Although the young lady that played the Empress did a fine and noble job, I could never quite get over the way she moved her mouth, which distracted me a touch and thus some of the emotion of the ending was lost on me.)
(And then, when I read the book and found out that the ending was totally different than in the movie, I cursed all the closeups of the Empress at the end, which caused me to be so distracted with odd mouth movement and such, and vowed never to watch a film adaptation of a beloved book again.)
(Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go watch either The Fellowship Of The Ring, or Charlie And The Chocolate Factory…)
(I’ll save my usual discourse of why I like the Johnny Depp version of the latter for another time. You can thank me now, tho.)
The preceding rambling brought to you by Steve the Hamster, mentally shoving Cal down wandering bunny trails since 1959. Although, come to think of it, the really serious bunny trails didn’t start until… never mind.
“Why don’t you do what you dream?”
And Sebastian’s reply?
(Another fine child actor, but he also had funny mouth movement. This suggests that the issue isn’t with the pint-sized thespians, but rather in the head of the observer. Considering this observer has a mental hamster named “Steve,” I think we’ve found the source of the problem…)
“I can’t! I gotta keep my feet on the ground!”
Thus endeth the reading of the movie script. We now proceed to what the heck I’m talking about…
In this whole process of being reborn, I’ve been directionless, waiting, uncertain. The way I’ve been putting it is,
“I don’t know what I’m supposed to do.”
I mean, I’ve been given a new life – bright and shiny, all zeroes on the odometer, new carpeted floor mats, and that lovely new life smell (hmmm… maybe a little too much metaphor mixing there…).
And my counselor, who is a wise woman, keeps gently nudging me by asking,
“What do you WANT to do?”
Big difference there. One that I’ve been so very slow to embrace.
I do a lot better with externally applied requirements. The simplicity of showing up, being told what I’m to be doing, doing it, then leaving is just dandy with me. No need for me to do some heavy lifting, mentally speaking. (Which is a good thing – Steve is a pretty zippy little hamster, but he’s puny. Can’t lift his weight in pellets.) Don’t think, don’t ponder, don’t try to sort through a list of seemingly equal and lovely options, and thus get overwhelmed and paralyzed, doing my best “deer in the headlights” impression. Show up when you’re told to, do the tasks you’re told to, leave when you’re done, repeat ad infinitum, world without end, amen.
And I’d be as happy as a clam buried in the sand.
The problem, as so succinctly stated by Jim Carey, as the Riddler in “Batman Forever,” is this: “If ya kill him, he won’t learn nuthin’.” Maybe I should put it, “If he’s on auto-pilot, he won’t learn nuthin’.”
Being on auto-pilot is never a good thing, at least not for me. When I run in a rut, with externally applied expectations and deadlines, I shut down, I go numb. I don’t mindfully approach the day, since I don’t have to sort through options or make decisions – I just go, do, leave, done.
When I weighed 480 lbs, that’s pretty much all I could manage and, truthfully, I didn’t manage it well, as any of my co-workers would tell you. I had my moments of light, but I had many moments of darkness, more than normal or expected. So, when I was laid off in 2006, it’s understandable that my world caved in – I hadn’t developed the abilities needed to find my own way in adult life. I was still living a grade school or college existence – show up, do what’s expected, leave.
(And truth be told, I never did that very well – there’s a reason I went to college for 5 years, majored in solo performance on an instrument that I hate the solo literature for, and have no degree. I tend to slap it into auto-pilot, without making decisions or thinking through options. If I ever consider finishing a degree, I have a feeling it’ll be nowhere near what I started out to do those many, many years ago.)
Here I am on the other side, hovering around 220 lbs, and now it’s time to grow up. So, today’s question, kids, is this:
“What do you WANT to do?”
The second question is much like the first:
“Why don’t you do what you dream?”
And my response, properly in the form of a question, complete with strange mouth movement, is this:
“What ARE my dreams?”
If I cast aside everything, hold on to nothing, put it all on the block, ready to be cut or saved, kept, sold or trashed, what stays? What do I dream? What do I love? If I could be doing anything at all, what would it be? (Or what would they be, since I am and will probably always be a “jack of a few trades.” I’m not ADD, but I sure relate…) If mounting financial pressure or a self-imposed obligation to dig us out of the money pit I’ve gotten us into with my lack of income and my “spend now, pay later” attitude wasn’t a consideration, what would I be doing?
“What do I WANT to do?”
In my dreams, I really don’t see anything like “travel the world,” “live an existence of affluence and ease,” or anything involving the words lifestyles, rich, famous, or fabulous. The dreams I can identify, at least at this stage in my ponderings, have more to do with meaningful, mindful activity than gain and getting. Digging out of the hole, living within our means, actually having a chance to change our lives to something smaller and much less cluttered – those are the thoughts that are in the forefront of my mind.
But right now, it’s time to see what I dream, what I love, what I want to do. Steve the hamster is spinning up the wheel nicely, getting ready to fling stuff. I’ll catch, assemble, and hopefully have some sort of list to play with afterward. Saddle up, kids – we begin in Part 2…