Thursday, May 30, 2013

October dreamin' -- don't stop now

Hey, it’s okay. It’s allowed. If you’ve given up on the idea, it’s time to try again. Go ahead and dream your dreams. It’s good for you and fun too.

In my Family Matters story I find myself in the dream business. It follows three generations of the Padgett family as they seek the elusive common ground where their individual, often conflicting visions of the future can come together in a way that works for everyone. In the course of their search there will be discord and compromise. Not everyone will get what they want. Sounds like real life, doesn’t it?

For two hundred seventy pages, while the frustrated grandparents are dealing with radically different visions of retirement and what it ought to be, their daughter is trying to save a relationship torn apart by conflicting dreams. Meanwhile the granddaughter, longing for the laissez faire freedom of her Los Angeles roots, struggles to imagine a future in small-town Tanner. At every turn it seems that someone’s dream is in danger of being overwhelmed.

I call them “dreams”---those enticing visions of a future we long for. If we allow it, those idealized notions can grow into motivating images of the person we think we want to be and the life we think we would like to have. I suppose I’ve alway understood how important they were, especially in the beginning, when we were setting out to find our place in the world. But do they still have a role in our October Years? You bet they do.

Perhaps like you, I have had those intriguing, ill-fined notions bouncing around in my head for as long as I can remember. But only in the last few years did it dawn on me that I was doubling down on that “dream thing.” I was pursuing my dream of writing a book that everyone wanted to read by telling stories of my Tanner friends and their pwn October dreams.

We grow up with visions of what-could-be---sometimes they're hazy, sometimes as clear as daylight. In a real sense we have shaped those images as much as they have shaped us. Are they the cause or the result of whom we have become? Perhaps some of both. We spend a lifetime painting our own mind picture of the person we are. Though we rarely allow others see the whole of that personal portrait, our dreams, the ones that remind us “who we want to be,” are constantly at work on it---refining and clarifying the “me” we see in our thoughts.

Meshing that mental image with the untidy facts of real life is difficult at any age. Perhaps you remember how hard it was as a teenager. I do. How could I have entertained those silly pie-in-the-sky fantasies. And here I am, late in life, still playing those mind games, still dreaming dreams of what might be waiting for me out there. And I’m not alone. In the face of October's unique challenges many of us are in that space. We tell ourselves we ought to know better, but still we nurse our dreams.

Of course there are moments of disappointment, times when we pause to consider who we have become, perhaps asking ourselves why we are not the person we had hoped to be. Yet we keep dreaming, because we must. That was true in our formative years, in adulthood, and now in our October Years. As always, we are a work in process---driven in part by what I call dreams. 

It was my job to see that the Padgett family faced their dreams head on, the ones that threatened to pull them in very different directions. There were times when that common ground they were seeking appeared to be out of reach. But they were a family first. That meant they had to keep looking, even if it meant reshaping their motivating visions. Just as it is for you and me, it was all about dreams. 

As always, if you’re so inclined I’d appreciate your comments, posted below. Beyond that, if there are folks with whom you’d like to share this October Years post I hope you’ll pass it on. It’s an easy thing to do. Just click on the “M” at the bottom of this page to email the post, with the video, to any addresses you choose.

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