Do you remember dreaming that one day you would be a great writer, painter, or composer? Do you remember wanting to invent a remarkable new product, pitch a perfect game, find the cure to a debilitating illness, rally the troops to save the day, become a great actress, enter the courtroom to right an injustice, or throw your hat into the political ring to make a difference? Do you remember dreaming of bringing a brood of children into the world and raising them with incredible amounts of love and consciousness? Do you remember wanting to play music or sing melodies that issued from your heart? Do you remember dreaming of being a coach or a teacher, a dancer, choreographer, cook, carpenter or fisherman, an astronaut or mountain climber, a religious or spiritual leader, a humanitarian or a healer?
Perhaps in your case, you did not know exactly what you wanted to do with your life, but you felt a longing you could not put a name to, a restless tug to do something more and different than others around you were doing.
Perhaps both of these things were and still are sometimes true for you - specific longings to do or express yourself in a given way or a restlessness that issues from not knowing quite what you want to do or how. If this is true for you, then we invite you to spend a few moments with us exploring the possibility that the next stage of your journey not only can be more satisfying and rewarding, but also more in alignment with the dream you came here to manifest.
The first step we recommend in this exploration is to take a little time to be alone, a little time to listen to some of the hints and promptings that come from that "still small voice" within you. If you are willing to take this first step, we believe you will soon discover that this longing, this dream that you once had is still very much alive inside you. We also believe you will discover that by directing your attention to that place where your dream still lives, you will either rediscover or discover the beginning of a pathway that can - no matter how old or young you are - lead you to live more of the life you were born to live.
The Power of Your Dream
Our personal experience confirms the fact that when we are in touch with our personal dream and stay true to its call - stay true to what is called our destiny - we are not only more creative, impassioned, and energetic, but we are also more involved in our own lives, connected to others and in tune with the natural rhythms of life. When we are in touch with our dream we are also more concerned about the well-being of others, this planet and all of the species that reside here. In short, in our experience being in touch with our dream is an essential key not only to living more consciously and aging wisely, but to fulfilling what we call our spiritual promise or heritage.
For more than 30 years we have been experimenting with and testing this premise not only in our personal lives, but through our work with hundreds of major organizations and with thousands of individuals who have attended both our organizational and public programs. During this time we have come to verify that those who are in touch with and living even portions of their dream are more content, impassioned, engaged, loving, health and successful. In addition, following the call of our dream is not just important to us as individuals, it appear to be equally essential to the grand scheme of things.
Yes, our dreams hold a blueprint for a unique and successful life, in fact for the precise life many of us long for and believe somewhere in our hearts is possible. And yet it may not be and often is not the life we are living. We could, of course, spend months exploring why this is true. But in the end, we believe what matters most is not why, but what we can do to correct this misalignment.
Our exploration indicates that this blueprint is often as close as the longing we feel our hearts. Indeed, we have discovered that it doesn't matter whether it has been days or decades since we have last paid any attention to our dream, it is always there, literally as close as our next breath.
If you have been faithful to your dream you know this to be true and we applaud and celebrate your efforts. But then again, our applause is unnecessary for you already know the value of the journey that was written indelibly in your heart long ago. If you have not yet been as faithful to your dream as you have wanted to be then you also know or, at the very least, sense that what we are saying is true. For we know that you, like us, periodically receive, sometimes quietly, sometimes insistently, those whispers, prods, prompts, and even demands that you to pay more attention from that "still small voice within."
So here in this moment we invite you to pause and take a little time to touch that place in your heart where your dream still resides. We ask to get quiet enough to hear what that "still small voice" is saying so that you, too, can once again regain that glint in your eye, that spring in your step and that flow of loving that is not just a possibility, but your right and privilege as a spiritual being who is currently having this physical experience called life.
Indeed, no matter what your experience has been - whether it has been the hot and dedicated pursuit of a dream that has been clear and compelling for a long time or whether you turn away and are now living with that restlessness, knowing that there was or is something else, something you sense is more inspiring that you want to do - we invite you to lean back in your chair, close your eyes, and for just a few moments go to that quiet place inside you that is not limited by the boundaries of physical time or practical considerations.
Please do not just read these last few paragraph and move on. Stop, take a few, slow deep breaths and give yourself the gift of getting back in touch with your dream. You will, we know, be deeply grateful to yourself for doing so. Indeed, you will be taking your next steps to honoring what the poet Mary Oliver has called, "this one wild and precious thing called your life."
There are, of course, numerous techniques that can assist you to get in touch with this inner experience. Different forms of slow, focused breathing; various reflective and meditative practices; the use of mantras and simple phrases spoken on the out-breath and the in-breath; a walk in a favorite woodland; a run along a wild and beautiful beach; moments spent gazing into the innocent eyes of your child or that remarkable being you are spending your life with. Any and all of these practices and a host of others will do. Indeed, whatever allows you to connect to your heart and be available to the guidance that comes from within you - anything that allows you to remember your dream, is perfect."
Even if this first re-connection to your dream is only a vague sense, a hint of a direction, the barest impulse, or a fleeting image, allow yourself to glimpse it, sense it, feel it. But do not hold on too tightly or be disappointed if it does not materialize as a complete game plan for the rest of your life. Just let it unfold in whatever way is appropriate and for which you are ready. Just touch into that special reservoir of energy that is your dream and let it evoke in you the beginnings of a renewed sense of hope, purpose, and passion.
And if by chance you find yourself suddenly feeling the impulse to blow the dust off those paintbrushes; open the cover of the piano or of your toolbox; or dig out that notebook you tucked away on the bottom bookshelf of a bookcase, that notebook that is full of ideas for that humanitarian project, that business venture, or that novel you once wanted to create, then go ahead.
Truly, no matter how old you are or what you have chosen to do thus far in your life to earn your daily bread, if you give yourself permission to touch even the edges of that dream that lives inside you, we are confident that you will experience a sense of rightness, of alignment with something that is deeply familiar. Of course, you may also experience some pangs of regret for not listening to that "still small voice" more often and listening instead to those who told you that you had to be reasonable and responsible, that you needed to find a practical and proven way to support yourself, and eventually, perhaps, a family. But don't let that regret stop you from re-connecting to your dream. Just keep following the hints and impulses. Just stay in touch with that sense of alignment and naturalness and let it be your guide.
How can you be sure you are at the right place, the place where your dream resides? You'll know. So welcome it. Be grateful to it for the fact that the light of wonder and longing is alive and well inside of you. You may also want to keep this reconnection private for a while. You know what they say about "protecting vulnerable beginnings." So hold it sacred and nurture it, and above all, be willing to allow these first moments, these new re-connections to grow stronger and come more alive inside of you.
And even if you do not know where these first hints or images will lead you or how to bring them even more to life, let that be okay. The only thing that matters now is your willingness, your availability and openness. The only thing that matters now is that you honor this re-connection and allow these first stirring to lead you step by step toward that greater unfoldment of the life that you were born to live.
So we celebrate your courage in taking these steps and leave you with a remarkable quote from Oriah Mountain Dreamer, the author of The Invitation. We also leave you with our sincere hope that you will also keep some of encouragement we offer and extraordinary words from this gifted writer close to your heart. And most of all, we hope you will celebrate the very distinct, special and unique notes that you and only you have to come to this earth to add to the great song that is life.
"It doesn't interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing. It doesn't interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dreams, for the adventure of being alive."
George and Sedena Cappannelli are co-authors of Do Not Go Quietly, A Guide To Living Consciously and Aging Wisely For People Who Weren't Born Yesterday (Hay House, 2013). They are also co-founders of AgeNation, a digital media company dedicated to informing, inspiring and engaging Boomers and elders on the challenges and opportunities in a world in which 50% of our population will be over 50 for the first time in history. They are experts on individual, organizational and society change and they have been assisting and inspiring hundreds of the premier organizations in the private, public and non-profit sectors as well as thousands of leaders and people in the general public to accomplish their objectives for more than 25 years. Their other books include: Say Yes To Change and Authenticity and they have recently launched the World Council of Wisdom Keepers that include such notables as Jean Houston, Ram Dass, Angeles Arrien, Barbara Marx Hubbard, Michael Meade, Dr. Gladys McGarey and Reverend Michael Bernard Beckwith. For information visit: www.DoNotGoQuietlyTheBook.com and www.AgeNation.com