wholepeace

I Dream Who I Am; Not Who I will Be.

In No Particular Path on October 5, 2015 at 9:33 am

“Dream as if you’ll live forever; live as if you’ll die tomorrow.” This meme, in various forms and attributed to various people has been showing up on my FB feed lately.

No.

I won’t do that.

I won’t indulge in timeless fantasy, only to live in fear that my dreams may not come true if I don’t do them right now. Dreams aren’t blueprints, they’re works of art – as realistic or abstract, as representational or as surrealist as we want to make them. But they’re present, not future. Tomorrow they will have changed somehow, sometimes for the better, but not always. When we rush to make our dreams concrete, because we know that our lives are short, we risk the dreams and our lives both.

Artists and poets – artists of all kinds – have spoken of the transience of art in two ways. Art is never really permanent. Like everything else, it can die; it can be destroyed by accident or by design. And works of art are not immutable. They are, in fact, constantly renewed each time some new person encounters them. Artists often hate to finish a painting, writers hate to write the end. There’s always something that could, if one went back, be made different, made better; something that reflects who one was when the work was begun, but not who one is today. Dreams are like that. They tell us more about who we are now than they do about who we will become; or even who we really might wish to become.

Our lives are always lived in the present, though we may seek to avoid that fact. We spend our present time either regretting the past or celebrating it; we spend it either dreaming of the future or trying to control it. But everything we do is a choice, and choice is always present tense. Tomorrow I may die or I may not. What I do today I may regret tomorrow or celebrate. It may lead me in the direction of my dreams or in a direction I could not have imagined. And I cannot know which until it is done, and what is done cannot be undone.

Humans exist in a constant state of both loss and gain, both grief and hope, both beginning and ending. We are conscious of the past, anticipate the future and pay far too little attention to the present.

All of our lives thus far are prologue. The past may be foreshadowing, but it is not prediction. What I did yesterday exists only in my capacity to remember it; what I do today belongs to today; and what I will do tomorrow is possibility, not promise. I savor today not because tomorrow may not come, but because today already is.

There is a similar meme that advises us to tell those we love that we love them today, because tomorrow they may not be here to tell. I think that’s foolish. Love expressed out of fear of lost opportunity is love coerced. I express my love today because I can, so why would I not? If I say I love you in the morning, repeat myself several times during the day, then remind you of it before we go to sleep, it isn’t because I fear that I may not get another chance. It’s because I can think of no better bookends to the day and no better library between them. And if tomorrow you are no longer here, or I am not, then I will believe that every expression of love we have made will live forever. As a breath ripples out into the world and can never be recovered, each new expression of love ripples out and marks our presence. Each new expression of love that we take in, like each new breath, brings with it the oxygen to feed the fire in our souls and give us life for this moment and this day.

And so I will dream because I live today. My dreams keep me conscious of my desires, my hopes, and my fantasies. Today I dream who I am today, and tomorrow I will dream anew.

I will live as though I am alive now, in this moment. And if tomorrow comes I will live then as I live now. If it doesn’t come, then I will have lived to that last moment according to the dreams of every moment.

I know that I will not live forever. I cannot know if I will die tomorrow. But I know that I am here today and I can choose what to do with that.

I will love as I breathe, so that I can draw in that which ignites my soul; and exhale it rippling out into the world.

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