For Sunday Scribblings: “I don't want to be a passenger in my own life.” - Diane Ackerman
There are some big, dazzling daydreamy things that I want, like a villa in Italy and to ride elephants through the tiger preserves of northern India. Dinner parties with intriguing people, a mask-making class in Venice, a mango tour of the tropics, open-ocean sailing. Smart curious children, a beautiful marriage (this one I have already), holiday feasts with family (yep, that too), baking marathons (sure), a lovely home (working on it). I also want days and weeks and months of living in the worlds in my head, writing, dreaming, uninterrupted. Somewhere cozy with a fire and a coffee pot and a big shelf of books, some of them by me.
I know these things don’t just happen. Anything we want in life we must create with our own minds and hands, whether it is a career or a home or a relationship, a round-the-world trip, an opportunity, a niche. Each of us begins, essentially, like a hobo standing at a point in space with just the brains in our heads and maybe a small bundle over our shoulder with some clothes in it. Cars might come by and offer you a lift -- a spouse, a parent, a job -- and you can get in and get swept up in the ease of that, of riding along with someone else.
Or you can gather your little hobo self together and figure out how to get a car of your own, how to make a map, how to cross oceans when you come to them, how even to fly. We all start from scratch with the most basic notion of how the create our own maps, and it’s hard. A lot of people give up and get in somebody else’s car. These are choices we make again and again and again, every day, the easy way or the hard way. It’s not just a matter of “driving” -- to begin at the beginning, you need a place to go and a way to get there, and a car is not magically handed to you with the tank full. You need to do that part, too.
This all reminds me of another quote I love, by the astronomer Carl Sagan:
“If you want to bake an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe.”
Yes! It’s just like that! If you want to bake an apple pie from scratch, first you need to invent apples; you need to dream up the soil, water, and sun, day by day by day, plant the seeds and wait for a tree to grow, and eventually gather the fruit. What is your apple pie?
I still remember a tidbit from the book The Pigman by Paul Zindel that I read in junior high (back in the old days before it was called “middle school”) -- I recall the young characters developing a practice of doing 2 things every day that will carry them closer to their goals and dreams. Two real things. That has stuck with me. I don’t do it everyday -- yesterday I read all day long -- but overall, I think I do. Do you?