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Midlife Dreams And The Harvest Of Possibility

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It was dead, lifeless as a rock in the yard. The loss would have been far less if I hadn't invested the symbolism in it, after my friend, Therese, gave me an image to contemplate of a peach pit in my heart containing my hopes and dreams for the future. I was to envision the pit as a seed that will send forth roots and begin to grow. Fresh out of peach pits, I did the next best thing: I ordered an amaryllis online, which came in a decorative white birch pot and the promise of little green shoots above the ground.

Not mine, though. I had the amaryllis version of the Charlie Brown tree. Dead, dead, dead. What would become of my dreams now?

At mid-life, dreams are hard to come by. We invest in the practical: a healthy 401(k), college educations for our children, a paid-off mortgage by the time we retire. We may indulge in a hobby or take up a pastime, but we tell ourselves it's too late for a life-changing dream. By the time we reached the stage of realizing it, we'd be too old to enjoy the results. Unless, of course, our dreams are already there, waiting to sprout.

I have wanted to be a writer since I was seven years old, when I picked up a pencil and wrote down the story in my head. The translation of imagination into words was magic! Of course, my initial foray was awful, as would be much of what I'd produce in the beginning.

Nonetheless, I never gave up, even when I was met with far more rejection than acceptance. Finally, a piece was published in a major newspaper and then another, followed by a first nonfiction book 12 years ago. And I'm hardly done yet, which is why I bought the amaryllis manifestation of my peach pit image. I needed to remind myself that fresh dreams and new hopes are planted within me waiting to grow.

So it is with you, too. Take some time and remember what you used to dream about when you were younger. What did you want to become? What did you give up in order to have a more secure or "normal" life? What is it you always wanted to try? Does a potter's wheel call to you? Do you pass the dance studio while running errands on Saturday mornings and wonder if they have adult classes?

Do you look at the boxwoods in your garden planted by the landscapers after you moved in and wonder what it would be like to have a real garden of perennials and annuals of your own choosing, with whimsical names like foxglove and coral bells, butterfly bushes and sixteen candles?

If you were to plant your dreams today in time for growth in the New Year, what would they be? What harvest of possibility would await you if you invested in possibilities?

As I contemplated these questions, I committed to continuing my creative path even though the object of my visualization was nothing more than a pot of over-watered dirt. But wait! There in the corner, jammed up against the side of the white birch pot, were two tiny green shoots. After a day or two of marveling at the first signs of growth, I realized the bulb was on its side. When I straightened it up, two long shoots emerged, which had circumnavigated more than Ferdinand Magellan to reach the sunlight.

Here are the real lessons to contemplate. My dreams, like my amaryllis, can grow even if they are pointed in the wrong direction at first and crowded out by an obstacle. Ever resilient, life -- and creativity -- find a way.