Dreams are one thing, having them another.

It sounds like it should be a simple choice, when the opportunity presents itself, to grab that brass ring. But it isn’t always.
I first learned this when my daughter asked for aCitta_3 051 trip to Europe with me as her graduation present from college, destination: anywhere of my choice. I had never been to Europe, and I had always wanted to go to Ireland. This dream was probably propelled by my great grandmother’s wish to either live to be 100, or win the Irish sweepstakes so she could go back to Ireland. She lived to 92–I went to Ireland.

But in the planning, when I felt my dream in reach, I started to panic. We were going to go biking in Ireland, combining two loves of mine. I called my daughter and said “Maybe we should go to France, and bike between the cathedrals. They are usually about 20 miles apart, so that the friars could walk between them in a day’s time.” And my daughter knew French fluently and was a religion major. Note the mind making things logical, and taking me away from my gut knowing.

My daughter, in her young wisdom, counseled me, “Mom, let yourself have your dream. You have always wanted to go to Ireland. Let’s go! I think you need to make a new dream now, to take it’s place.”

In the Hero’s Journey as Joseph Campbell describes it, just before the hero gets his prize, there is temptation. Something comes up to test the hero, does he really wish to get to this destination?

As I planned my summer in Italy, this testing happened over and over again. Waves of fear, and many logical reasons why it would be “better” to stay at home. But, I remembered my daughter’s words, and my son and daughter-in-law’s gift: I had always wanted to do this, I had long wanted to live aboard for at least 2 months, long enough to know what it felt like to live in another country. And I had wanted to go to Italy since my college days–40 some years ago. The door was open, the ticket was in my hand. Life had conspired to uproot me repeatedly, and it was doing everything but pushing me across the sea.

Still, I struggled with receiving. Is it alright to be this happy? Is it okay to be this irresponsible by outside standards and this deeply responsive, responsible, to me?

Citta_2 074Julia Cameron uses the phrase “Leap and the net will appear.” I like the visual from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, where Harrison Ford walks out into thin air, and as each foot goes down, a bridge of land appears under his foot. Taking each step on faith, once I committed to that step, it became firm and clear.

Even once I arrived here in Italy, however, in the early weeks, I had to handle my internal critics. “What are you DOING here? Shouldn’t you be in the US teaching and writing? Shouldn’t you be doing something sensible?”

What helped immensely when these waves came up were emails from home. My children emailing me now and then, popping into my life, knowing we carry each other each day. Cindy giving me updates on my dog sleeping happily in her garden. Bonnie-Kate reporting that my cat Tom was curled up on her lap as she wrote.

And then, practicing receiving. Learning to be present in these moments that might not come again. Opening up the hands and heart, to take it all in.

The beauty here, of earth and people, helps the process.

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