Have you ever stopped and considered the “what might have been” options in your life? Those doors once open that now seem so unlikely? Those dreams and lofty goals that too easily find themselves set aside by the mundane demands of the daily grind?
“I want to run a marathon.”
“I plan to travel to Ireland, or Australia, or go backpacking through Tibet.”
“I could write a memoir.”
“I want to be an astronaut.”
I saw a link to a short story contest on my Stateside writers’ group Facebook page, and the urge to participate churned in my brain at once. And the more I thought about potential stories, the more my mind homed in on the concept of our deferred dreams and primary motivations. What are the principle visions of ourselves or beliefs about ourselves that govern so much of what we accept as possible or achievable?
We all have these grand plans and aspirations, but life sometimes buries them deep down beneath the crushing weight of bills, daily chores, menial but tedious work, and mindless entertainment to distract us from the numbing effects of our busy lives. Worse yet, there are “facts” we believe about ourselves that keep us from even attempting to achieve. “I can’t write.” “I’ll never have the time to spend on that.” “No one wants to see what I can create.”
For example, in my teenage years I distinctly remember a comment from my big brother telling me I couldn’t sing well. To be fair, my voice was changing, and everyone has bad days, so maybe his judgment that day was fair. Maybe it was an offhand comment or a big brother picking on little brother moment. He probably wouldn’t remember saying it.
That defined my ability in my head for several years. Rather than sing, I held onto the thought, the belief even, that I really ought not subject others to the sound. I could play piano really well; I should stick with my strengths.
It took a friend’s compliments and encouragement to get me to even try singing a duet with him in public. It took the praise of many members of the congregation to convince me I should keep doing it, and it took some time for me to really believe I could sing capably into a microphone where others would suffer the sound of my voice.
All because of an off-hand comment.
No judgment on my brother, whom I love dearly. I merely bring this up as an example of how easily certain parts of our personality can get crushed by the voices around us.
So my short story is going to be about these Echoes, the “could have beens” and “maybe one days” that all exist within the same jumble of emotions as “this is the best my life will get” and “who am I kidding, I could never…”
What happens to these Echoes when dreams die or when doors of opportunity close? What can motivate a person to change which voices hold sway in their mind?
When one of the Echoes starts to fade into nothingness, she finds a last chance at reshaping her Prime, the mild-mannered cubicle dweller to whom all the Echoes belong. To do it, this Echo has to avoid the judgmental ire of the current Alpha in charge, who is determined to maintain the status quo while enlisting the aid of other weakened dreams and forgotten hopes. Perhaps if enough of them come true, the balance of power can shift. But if not, then all those dreams might be lost forever.
Sound fun? If so, help me out… and maybe you’ll appear as one of the “Echoes” in our cubicle dweller’s head.
How? It’s easy to do, but maybe a little challenging to consider:
Leave a comment with a few of those deferred dreams or “I wish I had” hopes that you think might be clinging desperately to the thought of “maybe one day” in the mind of the cubicle dweller. These could be silly ideas you think a frazzled woman trying to avoid becoming a crazy cat lady might hang on to. Or on a more personal level, these could be your own thoughts of what could have been, wishes you never got the chance to fulfill.
I’d love your input.
Also here’s Shia reminding you to not let your dreams be dreams.