[I wrote this in Paris, however it has languished in the digital depths of my iPad until now!]
The first time it happened, I was in Paris. I was sitting in this gorgeous little ‘tea house’ in a square next to the George Pompidou Centre. Having failed miserably in my attempt at appreciating modern art, I had left the strange, space-age Pompidou building for the piazza-square off to the side. This square has the most bizarre water feature in its centre – a large, waist-height pool made of marble, with bizarre graffiti-like art statues sticking out of it – bright red lips, a large treble clef, a rainbow skull. A very Parisian street-cool feel.
The square was brimming with people. School had just let out, so there were childish yells and giggles and games going on everywhere. A street artist was drawing Charlie Chaplin in chalk on the pavement. Another was playing piano accordion, which perhaps the locals think of as cheesy, but which I love because it so strongly says you are in France, you are in France.
I was at my tea-house table, overlooking this tableaux, sipping my latte, eating a croissant and writing in my journal. I had been on a little roll with the writing (aren’t those glorious? When you can just feel the goodness flow from you without effort into the pages? All the more delicious when it’s written by hand in a gorgeous leather-bound journal!)
And then it hit me.
Smacked me in the face.
The realisation that This is it. This is your dream, Jessica. This is what you have dreamed of and longed for and wished for for so very long – sitting in a Parisian cafe, writing. You are doing it. Right now. You are living your dream.
And then, of course, following this moment of self conscious awareness, this happened:
Quick, quick, concentrate. Soak all this in. Make the most of this. This is it. This is what you’ve been waiting for. Concentrate! Do not let this moment get away!
I’ve had this a few times over the past few months – the very sudden, smack-you-in-the-face realisation that I am ‘living my dream’. Usually, it will be in moments while I am sitting in a cafe over a coffee and a croissant, writing. All of a sudden I would be struck by the knowledge that this is *exactly* what I have wanted for so long, I am living it right now. And then I am filled with a slight panic, followed by determination to hold on to the moment as long as I can, lest it slip away. And of course, as soon as that happens, all the magic of the moment is lost.
It can be a very scary thing, to fulfill your goals or achieve your dreams. Or to find yourself doing what it is that you have been dreaming of for years. In my reckoning, the reasons are twofold. First of all, you now have something to lose. And we humans are programmed to be terrified of losing anything. We will go out of our way to avoid loss and the anticipated pain and suffering which accompanies it (hell, the entire advertising industry is based on this tenet). Happiness must mean you have something to lose, right?
And secondly, the other reason, is that you realise that you’re still exactly the same person. Warts and hurts and all. So very often, we think to ourselves ‘I will be happy when…’ (I lose the weight, I get the book deal, I get to Europe). So what happens when you finally get to Europe? Or lose weight? Or sign a multimillion dollar book deal? Without fail, you will find that you are still you. The old truism ‘wherever you go, there you are’ also applies to this situation. Whatever you achieve, you’re still you. Unless you have been working to iron out the kinks of your human blueprint along the way, you are still going to have the same muck under the surface, even if you do now have the multimillion dollar contract or the size eight ass or the European holiday.
So in these moments where I become happy and then scared and then grabby, I am trying to be kind to myself. To tell myself to take deep breaths, aiming for re-immersion in the moment. Deep breaths, because all there is is the moment. Just deep breaths.
And that’s all I’ve got. But it’s helping…