Alice laughed. "There's no use trying," she said: "one can't believe impossible things."
"I daresay you haven't had much practice," said the Queen. "When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."
Today is Sunday, March 3, 2013.
The Queen is right. It takes practice.
Most of us like to think of ourselves as open-minded individuals, but I think many of us would be surprised and perhaps dismayed to find that we are not as amenable to new ideas as we thought. How many times have you thought to yourself that something was impossible because you were not strong enough, not rich enough, not smart enough? How many times have you dismissed a possibility because you were too old, too fat, or too far behind? This is the kind of thinking I've found myself engaging in as I consider the possibilities for my life in retirement.
I'm not suggesting that we all live in denial. There are some constraints, after all. I will not make it off planet in this lifetime. However, the possibility of coming back in an age when space travel is commonplace is still in the cards. Never say "never."
Friends have reminded me again and again that when one door closes, another one opens. I faced this concept for real when I had a hysterectomy. It seems almost trite to say that it was "difficult" to face the fact that there was no longer any possibility of having a child of my own body. It was painful. It was heartbreaking. And yet I realized that I had been expending a certain amount of energy trying to keep that dream alive in this lifetime. When I finally let go of it, I had a great deal of free energy to focus on other things, the first of which was to recover from the surgery. My doctor was amazed at how fast my body recovered. He had no idea.
What I'm in the process of right now is figuring out which doors are permanently closed, and which are still open a crack. I need to reclaim the energy I have been spending on dreams that have a very low probability of coming true in order to spend it more wisely on a dream that I actually have a chance of manifesting. I can no longer afford to dream that a certain situation will just come into my life by magic, without any input from me, without any effort on my part. From here on in, I recognize that everything that happens is due to my own choices - even if they were made long ago, and more or less unconsciously, without regard to long-term consequences.
Could I still get a PhD. in some facet of education? Sure, but to what end? What I really loved about teaching was being with the kids. The people with PhD.'s generally find themselves working behind a desk in a district office. Wouldn't it be more in line with my real interests to just volunteer sometimes at the local elementary school? And wouldn't I really like to spend my money elsewhere?
Will I be able to do a lot of traveling? That depends. Once Social Security kicks in, that will be a possibility, but I will most likely have to scale down my plans, based not only on my income, but also my health. I need to create that "bucket list" of places I'd still like to visit in this lifetime, and prioritize them. Then I need to research exactly what I want to see and do there, and whom I'd like to visit. When the opportunity comes, I want to be ready to grab it.
Can I get my book published? Yes, and I need to step up my efforts to make this happen. I've been advised to cut down the manuscript and work my contacts more efficiently. This dream goes to the top of the list of priorities.
Might I be involved in a satisfying relationship once again? Sure, that's possible, too. But my expectations for a relationship are different now. I don't really need a man in order to get along in life, and having children - even adopted ones - is no longer feasible. But companionship - that is something I would like to have. In order to make this happen, I need to raise it to a higher priority in my life than it has been in the past. I need to think about specific actions that will get me out into the dating scene. And I have to remind myself that there are any number of men who have the same wish: companionship.
Will I ever live in a place that is not so small and cramped. Sure, that's a possibility, too. It might have to be put on the back burner, for a while, but when Social Security kicks in, I will re-assess my options and start looking for another place. Meanwhile, I will keep watch to see what's available and prioritize what I really don't want to live without versus what I don't really need, even though it would be nice.
Could something happen that I have never entertained, even in my wildest dreams? Yes, and to that end, I resolve to leave a space for it to happen. The Queen of Hearts in the story of Alice in Wonderland said that she believed in as many as six impossible things before breakfast. That suggests a spiritual exercise.
In my inner worlds, one of the places I visit is a certain study carrel in the stacks of an old-fashioned university library. When my life has become disorganized, I find that the surface of the study desk is cluttered with papers and things that don't belong there, and my spiritual exercise is to clean off the desk. Visualizing situations is a way of reaching into the subconscious mind, which is very powerful, and re-programming it, as it were. When I do this, I find that I am attracted to activities that will allow me to restore order to my life.
This particular study carrel has drawers and shelves, and one of the things I keep here, on the inner planes, is a little box filled with cards. Some of the cards have the names of people written on them. When there is something I must forgive them for, it will be written on the card, and my job is to erase the note on the card. I have found this to be a powerful metaphor for deep forgiveness (as opposed to the shallow kind, where one says one forgives, but then brings up the transgression the next time one is angry with the person who has been "forgiven." )
I'm going to keep a card file of possibilities. One of the cards will have "publish your book" written on it. Another card will simply say "travel." A third card will have "relationship" on it. As the possibility of realization becomes stronger, there will be more things written on the cards. I will have to check them periodically, and remember to erase negative thoughts associated with each situation. I will probably end up modifying the parameters of some of my goals, but that's OK, too. I've often found that it's better to meet a modified goal than to fail to meet any goal at all. A few cards will be left blank, to account for the possibility of something I haven't yet been able to envision.
I will come to my study carrel often to check on my progress. Like the Queen of Hearts, I will practice believing six impossible things before breakfast.
Eventually, I hope to be able to record here my successes in meeting my goals. :-)