Six Steps to Optimism: Day 5

“Dreams pass into the reality of action. From the actions stems the dream again: and this interdependence produces the highest form of living.”—Anais Nin

It isn’t enough to just look at your window optimistically and say to yourself, “Life will be wonderful.” If you expect your dream to blossom but do nothing to cultivate it, then it won’t flower. We must each discover our own dream for ourselves. No one can give it to us.

Once discovered, it must be nurtured. Choices must be made, actions taken, each following on the foundations laid by the one before, but all aiming for the fulfillment of the dream.

So, when we look out the window of our perception onto the world, it is colored by all our experiences and interactions. The decisions we make and the actions we initiate all spring from this place of accumulated knowledge and wisdom.

To return to my own life as a pianist, I can say, “I want to play a concerto with an orchestra”. But first, I must learn how to use my hands to create the sounds at the instrument I will need to give the most expressive and artistic performance of that concerto. Even after mastering the techniques with my hands and fingers, I must then learn the notes of the concerto and commit them to memory, absorb them so deeply into my heart that the music becomes an extension of who I am and I become an extension of the composer who wrote it, so that it’s impossible to see any of the seams between where one ends and the other begins.

And once I have learned the notes and made them into a work of art, I must find an orchestra to play with and practice with them. Once the rehearsing is done, other people must come to the concert hall, fill up the seats and be quiet long enough to hear the fruits of all our labors.

So, I can’t just sit in my chair in my house and let the sounds from my CD player wash over me and think, “Oh, my dream is to play this piece”.

I must get up out of my chair, go to the piano, take out my music, and begin, step by step, to build the dream into reality.

Then, when the concert is finished and the applause has died away, after the hall is silent and empty and everyone has returned to their own home, I must take a few moments to savor the sweetness of what I’ve accomplished, take a clear look at what I could do better next time, and begin again.

Sometimes, beginning again is the hardest part. It is easy to become complacent and settle for “just enough” or “pretty good” or “almost”.

The optimist looks at their gold medal, or their standing-room-only concert hall, or their million-dollar book sales and says, “What can I do next?”.

It’s not that they aren’t satisfied or don’t appreciate the richness of their experiences. It’s just that they are always seeing further up the mountain, just beyond the place where the path bends in the trees and they’re not quite sure what lies ahead.

After all, “dream” is only a noun until, by choice, you make it into a verb.

What stage on your dream’s path are you in, and what action will you take next? What choice have you made today that has moved you a step closer to realizing your dream? And, if you are at a pinnacle in your mountain range, look out and see: Which mountain in the distance is calling your name, beckoning you to begin anew?

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