Tuesday, May 13, 2014

In my dreams

When is it OK to let go of your dreams? I ask because in our society you're NEVER supposed to let go of dreams. Work hard, keep at it and your dreams can come true.


Because I wish I had let go of my dream to find the perfect birthday cake this year. I didn't feel like baking (unusual) and I had this fantasy that the perfect cake exists - out there somewhere. My quest for the perfect cake made for a sadly hilarious story, such as when I persisted in buying cake from the bakery at the Watergate that had just been closed by the health department. So determined was I to see my dream to fruition, that in spite of the sign, I walked in, I bought three slices of old, dried out cake. My determination created a momentum that was uninterruptible. I couldn't think straight. I couldn't put two and two together. t ended up throwing out the dreadful cake without even tasting it.

Continuing to pursue my dream involved eating several slices of mediocre cake. Finally I ordered a Very Fancy cake from Baked and Wired in Georgetown. But then it snowed on my birthday, heavily enough that getting to Georgetown would have really been ridiculous. I called the bakery. They said they would hold the cake for one day only, and advised me to hire a courier to deliver it to me.

Ha. So funny. I clearly am not among the demographic of people who frequent Baked and Wired. Made me laugh when she said it. A courier on a snow day would cost a fortune and would be a horrible experience for the person who had to navigate the weather. For heaven's sake.

The next day the snow had stopped falling but it was a mess out there. The streets were full of slush and the sidewalks caked with icy snow. Nevertheless I set out to pick up the damn cake. I was determined to fulfill my dream, I tell you.

On the way there I twisted my ankle pulling my foot out of a heavy brick of slush at a corner. I limped a few steps. Then I asked myself, Do I really want this cake? At last I was ready to give up on my dream. To hell with the cake. As soon as I gave up, I felt so relieved.

But - could I have let go of that dream a little faster? All the signs pointed to FORGET IT, but it was my dream. And you're never supposed to let go of your dreams, right? Right??

At the Tuilleries

After that I tried to get new glasses. I had a dream. I could tell a long and drawn out tale about how hard I worked to fulfill this dream, but it's not that different than the cake story. Seriously, you can't plan to have two experiences so similar in tone, happening one right after the other. Epic fails!

My attempts involved numerous eye doctors as well as internet frames - I'll never try that again! It was time consuming, frustrating as hell and of course expensive. At the end of it, I was left a few hundred dollars poorer, wearing the same old, scratched up glasses, through which I can see just fine. Crazy.

Of course I'm thinking about Paris, wondering if it was the magical third strike in this series of dashed dreams. Well. Yes and no.

I'm glad I went, more glad as the days pass and I settle back into my fantastic DC life. The trip was enriching beyond belief. It was a much needed soul retrieval and I did some great ancestor work. I spent time with dear ones, the best part of the trip. I connected with the land and the soul of the city at a level I never have before. I saw the city through my own eyes, not through my aunt's. It was powerful. Paris is a very different thing than new glasses or good cake, oh my. And yet, I did not achieve my dream in Paris, my dream of recharging, of feeling at home. I wanted to partake of the glamour and history of Paris. I thought that would be comfortable. I was uncomfortable the entire time!

Just yesterday I found myself at one point thinking about how I could be comfortable in Paris. What? I stopped myself immediately. This Paris in my mind, where I wander the streets without getting lost, where I don't care that the cafe waiters, shop salespeople and such detest my presence, where I feel confident in a way that makes it possible to enjoy the experience - well - that Paris does not exist in time/space outside of my imagination. It is an impossible dream. Like the perfect cake, like a great new pair of glasses.

My journey to Paris did what it was supposed to. I did my work there and I'm better for it, I'm sure I am. Am I? The Voice in the Shower says yes. However my journey to Paris did not fulfill my dream of Paris.

So, what does it take for me let go of my dreams? How does one know when to hold 'em, when to fold 'em? Do you know?

This is DC, not Paris.


  1. Ah, yes. The classic condundrum of expectations vs. reality! It's hard to let go of expectations and just let the experience be whatever it becomes. But I also think we all enjoy things a lot more when we just let them be, rather than try to poke and prod them into being what we WANT them to be.

    I'm not sure what that means for your specific examples!

  2. You could have the Paris in your head but you would have to move there, live there, grow into it just like you did when you moved to DC. But I have to ask, why Paris? I understand the desire, drive to visit Poland, the land of your ancestors. But why Paris? Because you had one aunt that lived there?

    When I turned 50, I threw out all the unfinished projects I had been holding onto for decades thinking one day I would finish them. Turning 50 for me was all about knowing myself. Know thyself. I finally admitted I was never going to finish those projects and it was a relief to throw them out.

    I had a different but similar experience when I decided I wanted to be a gallery artist and get discovered by the collectors. I struggled and strived and got in some serious debt and spent all my time making things and no time with my grandkids and friends or out in the garden and I was not having fun. When the economy crashed, all my progress was wiped out but not the debt. Part of the snake bite was realizing I had changed once again. I gave up that dream (well, mostly but I did realize I didn't want to or could not produce enough to make that dream a reality). And now when I make those pieces, I'm having fun again.

    So I guess my answer to your question of how to give up a dream is to know yourself and accept who you are.