“When you wish upon a star
Makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires
Will come to you...”
(from Walt Disney’s Pinocchio)
In fact, some things your heart desires will come to you, and some won’t.
Many of my dreams have come true. I’ve been lucky in life. But I started thinking last night about how the time comes when the more practical-minded of us start facing the fact that there are some dreams we have that will never come true.
I remember well the heady feeling of being 20, 21, 22, and knowing that very few doors were closed to me.
If I have to, I can do anything
I am strong
I am invincible
I am woman!
(Helen Reddy, I Am Woman)
Even then that was a bit of an exaggeration, though not all that far from the truth, really. But then, as life choices are made, and as bodies age, one starts to hear the soft click of closing doors more and more often. Sometimes one can force those doors back open; sometimes it’s better to just walk away down the hall.
Here are a dozen dreams I have let go recently:
- I will never grow up in the UK. I always wanted to be a little British child and grow up breathing British air, hearing British accents all around, calling my favorite island my home. But it’s too late. I grew up in Missouri.
|Cotswold village where I didn't grow up|
Along the same lines, I will never live the life of the characters in my favorite books. I will never be shipwrecked on an island where I tame a wild stallion, never replay my life over and over with the option of changing it each time, never visit Digitopolis or Dictionopolis, never be sent off-world for a high school final project in survival and get marooned, never fly to the Mushroom Planet.
|So many books, so many fantasy lives|
Speaking of space, I will never go there. No, I won’t. The opportunity for ‘regular people’ to do it is close, so close, but not quite close enough. When it happens I may still be here, but I will be too old.
|No blast off for me|
And about that ‘too old’ business, I will never have my youthful body back. Nor my nice reliable memory. I don’t know how or when they started creeping away (if my memory were better, I would), but they are gone. I can’t complain about what I’ve still got, but it isn’t what I used to have, that’s for sure.
|Where did that body go? I can't remember...|
The body I do still have tells me I’m not going to get to run ever again. I used to love to run - not in races, just for fun, to feel my hair streaming back and the wind whipping at my face. Arthritis says, no more; sorry. Walk.
|Running for those who can't|
I might be able to ride a horse again, but I’ll never own one. I always somehow thought I would, that’s one of the dreams I’ve given up most recently. I read so much about them when I was young that I imagined I would know how to take care of one. No, I don’t, and I’m not going to make one my guinea pig. No horses. Just dogs and cats.
|Lovely horse in England|
I will never become fluent in a foreign language. Not even one of the ones I used to know (though I was never truly fluent in any of them). I keep language-learning material around because I imagine that I’m going to pick it up one day and start spouting Spanish or Welsh or German. But, no.
|Three of many languages I will not be mastering|
I will never be a good swimmer. I can move from Point A to Point B in the water, under most circumstances; I even snorkeled the Blue Hole off the shores of Belize. But I am not at home in the water. I am very much at home *on* the water, in a ship or a boat. But not in it.
|Flailing my way across Crocodile Creek, in Australia|
I will never live in Australia. Or Hawaii. Or any number of alluring places that I have visited and would love to go back to permanently. In some cases, I really am too old, they wouldn’t let me in unless I could prove I came with a gazillion dollars so I could support myself until death do I part and never have to depend on them to support me (Australia). Sometimes it’s because outsiders aren’t assimilated easily (Hawaii). Oh, I won’t spend the rest of my life in Missouri. But many places are off the list.
I will never read everything I want to. I won’t even read every book that is on my shelves in my own house, right now, and I want to read them all badly enough to have bought them. I always want to learn more, and know more, and there is always so much more to learn and know that I will never catch up. That doesn’t mean I won’t keep trying.
I will never see plate tectonics in action. Reading about the amazing ways the continental plates move around the globe makes me want to see it happen. Well, that takes millions of years, unfortunately (fortunately, really; if it happened fast enough for us to see it I don’t think we would be able to survive the effects). Still - what an awesome thing it would be to watch!
|Well, it's worth a try|
|What little math I knew is fading, fading away...|
Now, this is not to say that I have given up all my dreams. Far from it. Here are four dreams I am still holding out hope for:
I would love to become a good photographer. I like to take pictures but I usually wish the final product looked better than it does. I plan to take classes and try to actually achieve that goal.
|Posing for the camera|
I would like to visit Antarctica. I’ve been to six continents; this is the seventh and last. But ticking the box isn’t the only reason I want to go there. I want to sail the Drake Passage, one of the roughest seas on earth. I want to experience the unearthly sensation of nothing but ice and water and animals stretching from one horizon to the other - under a sun that never really sets. Since I can’t go into space, Antarctica may be the closest thing possible to visiting another world.
|photo by Shirley Metz, Zegrahm Expeditions|
I would like to write another novel, or another book of some kind. One young adult suspense novel published almost 30 years ago does not make me feel like a successful writer. Even if I just write one every 30 or 35 years, I can point out that there’s a pattern emerging.
|It's Book #1, not One Book|
I have always wanted to live by the sea. Almost any sea, anywhere, would do, but if I get to choose, it will be a sea that crashes onto cliffs I can walk to from my house, across my own property. I would stand there and soak up the majesty and wonder of the ocean in all conditions and every kind of weather. Now that is a dream I’ll hang onto until the end of my days.
|Where my heart is|