Which is Better, The Dream or Reality?

Today, the FedEx man delivered my much-coveted purple insulated, stainless steel “sippy” jug. I’ve wanted it for quite some time and was glad to see it arrive. But the realizations that arrived with the delivery were better, and more welcome, than the Amazon order.

This particular FedEx employee has been out quite a bit lately — since Verizon has failed to send me a working phone to access Internet during the past three weeks, despite five attempts — but that’s another story and I don’t want to recount it here and get all angsty again.

While making the delivery we chatted a bit. He asked how I came to live out this far off the beaten path. I thought for a moment and told him that twenty years ago I decided I wanted to live in the middle of the woods in a cabin and write. Until the words left my lips, I didn’t realize that this year marked the two-decade mark.

I told him that it took eight years to find the farm and for the last 12, I’d cleared the spot here in the middle, lived in and discarded a trailer, and finally built the cabin where I live now. I told him I moved in before I had floors and walls and running water because I knew if I tried to live elsewhere and save up the money to make it happen, it never would. He said I was brave and unusual, which is better than saying I’m crazy, but is probably not far removed.

I told him that way back then, it occurred to me that it was crazy to continue working long hours at a job I didn’t like, leaving my kids in daycare, to be able to eventually afford to start living my dream sometime in my 60s or 70s — so I quit the job when I found the farm and moved out here. I told him that I wasn’t writing the “Great American Novel” for publication as I’d intended, but I was living in the woods, in my cabin and writing for a living, and it was good.

He asked me if it was what I’d expected it to be — was it better or worse than the dream? Again, I found myself realizing the truth as I answered…

“When I had ‘the dream’ it was all whispy,” I replied, “like a castle built on clouds, but this is better because it’s real.” He smiled, gave me a curt nod and said he could understand that.

Until today, I often reveled in the fact that I had “arrived” — and promptly forgot that when things weren’t going the way I wanted them to, when frustrations arose, when times were trying — but I had never truly embraced the fact that my reality now is better than I’d imagined they it be… back when it was just my dream.

I don’t have to work all the time now. I have clients to serve, projects to complete, and plenty to keep me busy (I’m always happiest when I have work to do and I doubt that will ever change), but I don’t have to push my way through every day. There are some mornings now, well before my “retirement” age has even arrived, when I get up in the morning and think to myself, “What do I WANT to do today?” and once I settle on an answer, THAT is exactly what I do! It doesn’t happen every day. It doesn’t even happen on a regular basis, but it does happen.

And today, more than yesterday, I realize… That’s a pretty cool place to be, isn’t it? 🙂