The Awful Lovely Difference Between Dreams and Reality

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When I was about 12 I longed for a silk jacket like the ones on the movie Grease. In my dreams, it was pink with white stitching on the back and made me look like a Pink Lady.

I remember waiting a long time for my parents to buy it for me, but it probably wasn’t that long. It was probably only a few months until my birthday.

When I got it, I loved it just like I’d imagined. And then I rode my bicycle with the jacket wrapped around my waist, letting it trail down next to the spokes. The jacket I longed for caught in the circling wheels and was never quite the same after that. My vision of the lovely silk now had black grease marks.

Most everything I’ve ever wanted didn’t turn out as I expected. In some ways my dreams turn out worse in reality and, in other ways, better than I ever could have imagined.

For some time now I’ve been dreaming of getting paid for a piece of writing.

My vision of getting the ‘we will pay you’ mail looked like a quiet moment by myself with a neatly arranged kitchen and no family anywhere around. Don’t ask me why. I guess I just wanted the peace to enjoy the moment. In my vision, I would clutch the papers to my chest and the papers would say something like: “Your writing is fabulous. We love you.”

And then I would close my eyes and send a prayer of thanks.

Reality looked something like this:

I picked up the mail before unstrapping my 2 year old from his car seat and helping him into the house while lugging my purse, a bag full of my lunch leftovers, and Quinton’s sleeping blanket.

My husband was already home. In the pile of mail, I saw the manila envelope from the magazine Alive Now, and wondered if it was another rejection. I had sent a short poem titled ‘The Source’ to the publisher several months ago.

Before I could open it, I got in the house and everything was in a state of pandemonium. My 13 year old needed me to sign a form for his school. My 2 year old entered whine mode and was doing laps around my legs for some reason while my husband was chattering on about our plans for the evening. I told my family they needed to give me a second.

“I’m having a moment,” I said.

Which worked for the 13 year old and husband, so then I only had to think around the 2 year old’s noisy lap running. I opened the manila envelope and skimmed the letter to find the congratulations and the dollar amount.

And then it all got better than my lonely clutching the papers to my chest scene. My family gave me hugs and high fives and shared my joy.

Later I struggled with filling out the contract and tax papers that I had never visualized.

But, in spite of scary tax forms and household pandemonium, I like to visualize my dreams. I often get what I have been dreaming of, and I do believe that visualizing helps this happen. Something powerful and magic pulls me toward what I focus on.

This magic does not mean that what I get looks exactly what I’ve envisioned. Most of the time it doesn’t. Most of the time it’s messy and irritating in ways I never imagined and also deeply satisfying in ways that never occurred to me. So while I am careful what I wish for, I keep right on wishing. And not too carefully, either. I’ve learned that unexpected surprises make for good times. Every so often the unexpected looks like a pink jacket in spokes, but most of the time it looks like high fives and hugs.

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