When I dream big, there are three things I keep returning to.
I want to be a writer. Not just any writer—I want to write novels. I've wanted to be a writer since I was 11, when my friends and I wrote stories during recess. Since that time, I have had ideas for at least 50 books (mostly YA) that I think would be great. I have outlines for about 20 of them in my drawer. I've written a few pages, even a couple of scenes, for some. But mostly, they sit in my drawer, waiting.
When I can't sleep, I design businesses. I have a dream to someday own a huge conglomerate of interconnected companies and to hire people I know and trust for a decent wage; to hire single or divorced mothers and pay them a salary they could actually live on; to fund ideas and projects and other businesses for people who have great ideas, but no financing. I have business plans and flow charts and job descriptions and mission statements for over a dozen different companies—all committed to making a difference in the world and blessing the lives of as many people as possible. Those business plans sit in my drawer beside my unwritten novels.
I also design houses. I don't want to own my house, I want a house of my own. One that is ergonomically designed to fit my lifestyle and my personality. One with enough space inside to breathe and create, and a yard filled with beautiful growing things that soothe my soul. I have as many house plans as I have business plans. They, too, sit in my drawer. Waiting.
Sometimes I look at my life of unfulfilled dreams and my drawer of unrealized plans, and I wonder what happened. Why haven't I accomplished any of these dreams that fill my heart nearly to bursting with desire? Why are they still as far from my reach as they were the day they first began to sprout in my mind? Where have my 47 years gone?
I was feeling the melancholy of these thoughts at church yesterday as I was reviewing the notes in my steno pad instead of listening to the lesson. I flipped though the 10 pages of new ideas, the six business plans, the two house plans and the book idea that had consumed my Saturday. All good. All solid. All possible. And yet, I couldn't help but wonder if I would ever actualize those plans, or if they'd end up in the drawer with all the others.
Again, I asked myself, where have my 47 years gone?
As I pondered that question, the teacher of the class recited this poetic stanza by Anne Campbell:
You are the trip I did not take;
You are the pearls I cannot buy;
You are my blue Italian lake;
You are my piece of foreign sky.
("To My Child," quoted in Charles L. Wallis, ed., The Treasure Chest , 54.)
That is what I did instead.
I raised my children. And I can say to them with a perfectly congruent and peaceful heart:
You are the book I did not write;It wasn't quite fair, trading in my hopes and dreams for my four children. No, not fair at all.
You are the business I did not start;
You are my home that's filled with love;
You are the peace within my heart.
I ended up with the much better end of the deal.