If all I were to do is dream, I’d be a sweet Milwaukee housewife, three kids running around and probably one on the way. I’d be afraid of spiders, intruders, and maybe God too. Life would flow and I’d float with it, following the stream like man-made dams didn’t exist, as if all nature asked of us was to sit back and be urged on.
If all I were to do is dream, I would have made it around the world by reading books. I’d imagine European cobblestones under my feet and attempt to breathe frigid Alaskan air by sticking my nose in the freezer and staying there a nice bit.
If all I were to do is dream, life would be a simple matter to live. I could dream my way out of pain, visualize courage, and go on my day. I’d open my arms and tell the universe “give me whatever” and do nothing to bring it down beside for dream.
In my dreamland, few fears existed. When chaos erupted during my childhood time, I’d go on walks and rollerblade rides, imagining something different - imagining everything I thought I couldn’t control melting away. I’d feel happiness coursing through me as I twirled and laughed and danced on the street - feeling the experience I wanted as if it were real.
My thoughts would control my mood and my mood would dictate my fantasies. So I dreamed and I dreamed and I’d stay up all night dreaming before reality hit and I’d hear my dad screaming or see my sister bleeding. I dreamed so hard I’d get lost walking to the park 3 blocks away, and sometimes wander into poles and bruise myself from dreaming so hard. I dreamed, I dreamed, I dreamed so much that it started feeling like too much chocolate cake on an indulgent day. It got too sweet and didn’t fill me. Maybe the Russian in me wanted potatoes and meat too.
One day, I stopped dreaming. For 3 years, I didn’t cry, I tried so hard not to feel. I tried so hard not to get lost in my mind. I tried to take the dreams I remembered and break them into tiny goals. I wanted a husband so I high-fived a man, which happened to be the first time I ever touched a male. I desperately needed friends so one night I took a walk and spoke to a stranger on the street for 15 minutes (but we didn’t become friends). I snatched my dream to travel and somehow wrangled my dad into a 1-way flight to Israel - on the condition that I’d find a job and place to live within 2 weeks. (On day 1, I found both and stayed for another 8 months.)
I stopped dreaming and discovered a brand new life that existed outside of my dreams to marry, and have a husband and kids. I stopped dreaming and finally started living. I screamed at every whispering fear and told it to shut the fuck up I’m going to do what I decided on anyways. Every time the bitter feeling of fright swelled in my veins, I used it as fuel and kept going because who was I to be afraid of my own imagined fears?
I got myself in trouble a little bit. I said yes to the first guy who asked me out in New York and then woke up from my daydream at his house. I ran out while he showered and that taught me to never go on first dates with strangers in closed settings (he didn’t hurt me). I needed an apartment in Paris so when a doctor I met at Starbucks took me to his house and offered his daughter’s bed, I said yes. I kept doing and going and trying out this new thing called choosing to do everything that makes me feel alive, doing whatever stuck me and reality into the same square.
In retrospect, the trouble I got in was more like the slight bit of rational mind I took with me into this new dreamless life. I won’t tempt fate and say I haven’t been hurt yet. But, when I mentally calculate the balance of safety I have now versus the childhood I grew up in, I have no doubt I was hurt a hundred times more when I was helpless and innocent and in my dreamland than since I took life and started living it.
The thing about dreams is they can’t expand unless you’re always adding new experiences to your list of inspirations. I kept dreaming of a husband and kids and the happiness I thought they’d bring because that’s all the happiness I thought I could bring into my life. This dream felt within my reach: follow the path carved out for me, say yes to the right guy, and build a life at home different than the one I had.
Quelling my fears and meeting the world was like watching the menu in a restaurant expand and expand and expand. There are so many options that if I’d eat something new every day I still wouldn’t have eaten even one page.
Since I’ve stopped dreaming, I’ve traveled, I’ve met people, I’ve found love and I’ve danced. I became a band manager, marketer, stopped teaching and healed traumas. I tasted crickets, made money, lost money, had sex. I lived so much and that I finally started dreaming again.
So go home, dream a little less, do a little more. It’s a beautiful world that can’t be imagined, that can’t be dreamed of, it can only be lived. Go live.
What a wonderful read! Loved the poetic style you used while making the reader dream + act, not an easy combination and you express it beautifully.
I love this piece and reminded me of this quote by T.E. Lawrence: "All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake up in the day to find it was vanity, but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible."
Dream dangerously, Yehudis!