when I was young, I dreamed of being a ballerina. there were few things in my small room, 2 posters of ballerinas taped to the wall, a pink plastic ballerina bar in front of a mirror that my father hung for me, and a few stuffed animals that I felt guilty exiling from my twin bed while I slept, unable to find comfort on the nights I succumbed to my guilt and let them share the precious space. when I finally did find sleep in that upstairs a-frame room, with the slanted wall that I almost daily hit my head on, I dreamt of dancing. I dreamt of the women I once saw on the wobbly vhs recording of swan lake. I didn't know then, that what I was longing for was the freedom they felt when they were dancing, all I knew is that I wanted to move like that.
the geographical limitations of my small southwestern kansas town, and the lack of opportunities that came with it, meant that I did not grow up to be a ballerina. though I did spend a lot of time in second-hand costumes with torn tulle, and a pair of nylon ballerina slippers my mother got for me from sears, I only ever learned how to bend and leap and glide and pretend in my living room.
but then, I discovered music.
and I discovered my voice, and my wholebody, soulseeking need to sing. so I sang. and I sang. and I sang until my entire being became music, until I was music, and I didn't know where I ended and music began. I found that freedom, I became something beyond myself, and yet so completely of myself. and people liked it, and they liked me because of it, and a crack formed in my universe. I was being seen, and I was being adored. oh that feeling, and the power it holds...
fast forward a lot, there is plenty to tell of that time in-between, but I want to talk about now. now I am 35. I am no longer in kansas, and I only occasionally sing. writing that sentence still hurts, but less every time I say it. I spent so much of my life believing fully that I was meant to be a musician, that I was destined to be a star. so for every year that I wasn't, I sunk deeper and deeper into depression. I spent my twenties wallowing in the not-ness. I settled into sadness, and hopelessness, and self-abandonment. I found a variety of random distractions along the way, other passions, ice cream sandwiches, wounded lovers, but I always found my way back to the lack. to what my life wasn't. to who I hadn't become. and so I cursed the gods, or the universe, or the unicorns, or whatever higher power I thought was keeping me from my destiny.
noun (pl) -nies
- the future destined for a person or thing; fate; fortune; lot
- the predetermined or inevitable course of events
- the ultimate power or agency that predetermines the course of events
- mental activity, usually in the form of an imagined series of events,occurring during certain phases of sleep
- a sequence of imaginative thoughts indulged in while awake;daydream; fantasy
- (as modifier): a dream world
so what's the difference between destiny and dreams? that's the question I'm ready to ask. I have avoided it, because of the fear of the chasm it may present. sure, there are people who's destiny and dreams merge seamlessly together, and perhaps, despite the signs seeming to say otherwise, music still is my destiny. but the point is that I DO NOT KNOW. I want to know, I long to know, but for now I AM SITTING IN THE UNKNOWING. like a polyester dress in sunday school in august, I am sitting with the heat and the itch of it all. I am fidgeting, and whining, and often crying. and as much as it scares me, I think I'm finally prepared to face the truth, that dreams and destiny have different masters.
dreams are of the mind, and because of this, they are limited, and can be limiting. dreams are ideas, and while they are valid and valuable, they are created by our brains, and they are filtered through our egos, and our singular experiences, and our neurological habituations. destiny, however, is as vast and as limitless as the universes that lie beyond our central nervous systems. destiny is bigger than us, or at least our understanding of what "us" means.
don't get me wrong, I am a faithful believer in dreams, the having and the following. but having dreams as my god has not led me to a sustainable place. I still feel disconnected from my purpose, and I'm starting to see that staying stuck to my dreams may be just another way of avoiding how I can actually be of use. I want to be of use, I want to be of service to this whole, this great big overwhelming, terrifying, and jaw-droppingly glorious whole. and that's the thing, my dreams serve me, but my destiny serves the whole.
so then the question arises: what do I honor, and what do I surrender? and the answer: all of it.
you honor all of it, and then you let it all go. you trust in the process. the difficult thing that is taking me a long time to realize, and even longer to accept is that your destiny may not be the same as what you thought you wanted your life to look like. but even despite my struggles with it, I do believe that in the end, looking back, destiny followed fits you even better than your dreams were capable of. my childhood dream was to be a dancer, but my destiny was to sing. I am so grateful that I was able to be led to music, that I didn't say no to that journey just because it didn't look exactly like my dreams. I like french fries way too much to have been a ballerina, and I truly believe that I touched lives with my singing. I didn't know it until it happened to me. that doesn't mean my dreams were wrong, it just means that they weren't the whole picture, they were pointing me towards something, but they weren't the destination.
the trick is learning to stay open and hopeful, even when you are real sick and tired of doing that. and so here's how I am choosing to look at it, and for what it's worth, I do find it to be helpful: the universe is not here to fulfill my goals, my goal is to ask the universe to guide me in knowing the ways in which I can be of service to its dream of me.
so that's where I'm at. I'm asking, and I'm ready for the answers, whatever they may be.