Life adventures, inspiration and insight; shared in articles, advice, personal chats and pictures.
One of our family homes was situated in the Rocky Mountains. The house was oddly shaped and small, but the upper deck provided a view of Pike’s Peak, and the yard was a gathering place for all sorts of fearless wildlife—deer, foxes, raccoon, unusual squirrels and chipmunks, many birds, and even a visiting bear. While I loved the scenery and natural rock formations around the property, I learned the most from peeping into the windows.
Although most of the windows of our house were inaccessible due to precipitous drop-offs, I could easily stand on our upper deck and peer into the family room. The view was best at night—especially when the moss rock fireplace was glowing with a cozy fire that made the plaid loveseat resting before it almost irresistible. The shabby details that usually distracted me didn’t show. I fell madly in love with my home.
I remember Robin Williams in DEAD POETS’ SOCIETY encouraging his students to stand on their desks to gain fresh perspective. When I looked into my house from outside, I saw how lovely it was. An old song warned, “You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.” I cried when we left that house and our loving neighbors who gave us a tearful going away party. The past seemed utterly idyllic and lost. I’ve had that impression frequently of late.
Recently a friend and former coworker wrote to me, “Glad to see you’re living the dream.”
What dream? My fantasies of financial comfort (not riches, just vacation money) and professional respect seem lost. My retirement money doesn’t go far—certainly not far enough to repair all the problems around the property. Having the means to visit the world and distant friends seems unlikely. As I age, abilities such as my wonderful vision and flexible speaking voice begin to fade. I command my memory to summon precisely the word I want to use and get a mental “Hold, please.” When I walk into a room, my wrinkles make me feel invisible instead of attractive. How could my astute friend be fooled into thinking I’m living a dream?
Because she’s peeping through the window at me from the outside. Insignificant failings don’t show. What she sees is a working author, happy marriage, friends and loving family, a ranch with magnificent views and interesting footpaths, and enough. I don’t have what I wanted, but I have enough—everything I need and more. She sees what I have, not what I lack. Why don’t I?
Her words reminded me of all the people on this planet who would love to have the bounty I enjoy—regardless of the threats that might lurk in my future. Soon I will travel to a reunion at the high school where I began my career in education—45 years ago. I was invited by my former students who write about the wonderful memories they hold of me. I touched their lives.
Yes, I guess I am living the dream. And I’m not done yet. My voice can still be powerful. My books can travel where I cannot. I have the courage to face my future.
Look at your life from the outside, squinting away the details that make you despair. You may be living the dream, too. Part of the key lies in your perspective.