We all have dreams. Sometimes dreams are too often left to our subconscious while we sleep. And sometimes we experience these things called “daydreams”, where the connotation of the word itself has a surreal, lofty, and meaningless implication behind it.
Have you ever dreamt of living abroad, or setting a personal record on your next half-marathon, getting that dream job, or taking the ultimate vacation? I have had dreams like these. In high school, they encompassed the dream to make the Junior Varsity field hockey team and to study abroad in Australia. Later in life, these dreams evolved to living out west, traveling to the Himalayas, and finally becoming a sea kayak guide – specifically in beautiful Hawaii.
My mom once encouraged me to read a book that had a large impact on me. This book is called The Secret – you may have heard of it. While some of it seemed at times celestial and surreal, I took it to heart. The Secret encourages readers to actively “dream” or envision themselves living the life they want to have. The summer that I read this was the summer that I was training for the most competitive field hockey tryouts of my high school career. That summer, I spent each evening before sleep envisioning myself fast and nimble – making my pulls on the field hockey field and demonstrating great ball control. I cannot begin to add up the amount of time I spent actively envisioning my performance, and I had never been so anxious to make it through try outs and learn the verdict. I remember my name being called in the locker room and sitting before my coaches as they told me that I looked better than I ever had on the field before. They wanted me to play mid-field on the Varsity team. Score.
Since my junior year of high school, I have applied this concept again and again. So far this year, my time spent thinking and envisioning myself on various adventures in multiple locations, and in specific employment positions has materialized – twice. This fall and spring I found myself teaching as a substitute teacher in Fairfax County – predominately at my former high school, James Madison High School. If you have ever run into your former teachers around town you know it’s a trip, let alone bumping into them in the copier room before school! This winter I was offered the opportunity to teach five sections of English 10 and English 11 in a long-term sub position. When it came time to do a reading unit, I chose a book that I, too, read during my high school career – Into Thin Air. As I reread the book, planned lessons around chapters, created quizzes, and formed discussions, this book took hold of me as it held much more meaning today than it did when I was 16. As a traveler and lover of mountains, I quickly became drawn to the Himalaya Mountains and the travel destinations surrounding it. I wanted to go.
In this substitute teaching position, I realized that I had the flexibility to travel that I may not have again. While working full-time (and overtime) for those six weeks, I began thinking about travel destinations I could explore after my long-term position: Greece, Italy, Germany, The Netherlands. I figured that I would most likely be traveling solo, and Europe would be the best place to do it despite ultimately wanting more adventure. I saw that my friend from study abroad, Alex, had just visited the Netherlands and I messaged her for opinions and suggestions. Her response astonished me.
Alexandria O: Well if you want something super adventurous you should come to Nepal! Sarah and I (and maybe Alyssa) are going around March 18th to hike to Everest base camp!
Everest Base Camp. All of the catastrophic events recaptured in Into Thin Air happened just miles from there. The entire story encompasses the journey to the top of Everest, and even the trek itself to Everest Base Camp. Oddly enough, my long-term sub job ended just a few weeks before my girlfriend’s planned trip. My ever-supportive parents were somehow unsurprised by talk of my future trip. Nepal was on!
Last summer, the idea of working in Hawaii began to occupy my thoughts and time. My bad-a** coworker and girlfriend, Katie Abercrombie, began to share the adventures she and her fiancé, John, had while working and living in Hawaii. The more she said, the better it sounded. While working at Wet Planet Whitewater, I began to think about employment for the following summer – and a dream that I had always had – to live in Hawaii. Unlike making the Varsity field hockey team, this dream was one that I didn’t recognize as ever being realistic – until I began inquiring to Katie. Last summer I called Kailua Beach Adventures and spoke with the HR Manager – casually inquiring about seasonal employment for the following season, which typically began in May. That fall and winter, Clay and I sent in our cover letters and applications and played the waiting game. And more and more and more of the waiting game. This winter, I called Kailua Beach Adventures as often as I could without being blatantly annoying. In the meantime, I was looking for part-time work as I was living at home with much time to spare. I interviewed at Coastal Flats and inquired at the Vienna Inn, where I hoped to waitress. However, both restaurants wanted a yearlong commitment from me. Despite not knowing my future plans, I told them I would be moving to Hawaii this spring to work. Having no clue whether Clay and I would or would not be moving to Hawaii, I took a gamble. I hoped and prayed that Clay and I would be hired. Finally our phone interviews were held and the week long wait to hear the decision of our employment began. I had never wanted a job so badly in my life. My entire fall and winter, and especially during my week of waiting, I actively imagined and envisioned Clay and I in Hawaii, putting our kayaking skills to use and living in the paradise that is Kailua. The week-long wait was finally over – Clay and I were moving to Hawaii.
There is something to be said for the thoughts that occupy our minds throughout everyday life. Why not make these thoughts good? About the things that we are passionate about – about things that better ourselves and other people? About the things that we truly want for ourselves and our loved ones in this short lifetime that we have. Have your dreams ever turned to reality? Please comment, share, etc! If you haven’t read The Secret, it’s worth a read. The power of our thoughts can be astonishing.