It is 4:00 on a Sunday afternoon in mid-July. A thunderstorm is cutting through a sea of humidity and bringing us a little bit of breath. We went out on the boat today with my sister, Becky, and Steve today. It felt as if the sky was sitting right on top of us—so heavy and hazy—like we were a part of another world. We swam twice—it was blissful to jump into that cold lake.
I’ve been trying to figure out why I’ve been feeling so flat lately. First I blamed it on the reluctant summer which didn’t seem to want to arrive. And then I blamed it on the overwhelming amount of mud that still needs to be applied to our house. Or on the amount of crap I still have around me that I can’t seem to organize. Next I blamed it on the elusive projects that are floating around out there but are dependent on flakey governments and foundation grant deadlines.
Then, today, I finally figured out what it really is that is making me feel flat. I am living my dream. That may sound kind of crazy—why would living my dream make me feel flat and stale?
Because the dream has arrived.
All the fun of having a dream goes away when the dream is realized. When we were just dreaming about building our house and living on the land, I was sitting in South Dakota anticipating, visualizing, praying (sometimes), saying mantras, saving money, reading books, making sketches, fantasizing about our “place” and building excitement about the day we would begin, move in, be here.
Now, I am here. The dream is now my reality. I am happy it all turned out well, but all of the internal processes that were stimulated and jazzed by the dream now have nothing to activate them. My gardens are in. My wonderful house is built. There are still a lot of details to create within the near-finished frame of my dream, but there is no mystery anymore. I think we forget something so fundamental about the reality of “success” and “living the dream” that it is almost funny. When we put a frame around a future vision—but the frame is essentially empty except for our vision—all kinds of cool things begin to happen. We pick up the challenge, study new things, find help, ask questions, do difficult things that we have never done, and spend hours of exquisite time refining the vision. Our brains grow as we challenge ourselves every step of the way. And as Rita would say, when our brains are growing new dendrites—we feel good. Human beings love the creative process.
Once we have done the impossible, we need a new impossible to strive for. I need a new dream. That is why I am feeling flat.
We have begun to develop plans to do Creative Media Camps for youth where they learn to tell stories and then deepen their stories in new ways. We are talking film, writing, radio, new media, photography—all of it. As the idea grows, a frame begins to form around it. I see lunch being cooked for groups of 10-15 teenagers. I see young heads bent over blank paper and computer screens as they work together to bring a story of their own making into something that others can view and hear and taste and smell. And it isn’t just teens who have a story to—we all do. We could do camps for all ages. Suddenly I am surrounded by the creative energies of each new group and what they have to say.
If I push myself further into the frame, I can even imagine it happening in the newly built straw bale studio spaces on our land.
We need a lot of money to fill in the details of this new dream. I have about 80 cents in my pocket. Ah, the challenge of a new dream coming in to replace a dream already realized. Where would I be without that?
I just realized something else. I’ve been working on a novel series where we humans are in danger of losing our ability to listen deeply to stories of the earth, sky, and our own spirits. A special camp is created where children are brought to nurture their ability to receive, perceive, or generate stories. It is called Still Mountain camp. Still Mountain is both the name of a mountain and the place within each of us where we hear and record profound stories that guide and direct us. Receiving these stories requires that we learn to listen in new ways. For the first time I just made the connection between my own novel and the media camps I want to create. I want to create Still Mountain camp in the real world. So cool. How is that for a vision frame?
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