What If It Worked?

Hóka-héy, today is a good day to die!
– Crazy Horse, Sioux warrior,
as translated from the traditional Klingon

The other night I had a very, very atypical dream. It was a remarkably realistic one, too – when I woke from it, I was surprised to find that I was in Hawaii, not Seattle (where the dream had been) and that none of the conversations I’d had in the dream actually happened.

I’m telling you this because that’s what made this dream so powerful: there was no flying, no weird creatures, no surreal time-shifting Inception-like geography. It was exactly as if you were reading this blog, right now, and then suddenly a second later woke up in your bed, realizing that these words you’re reading were never actually written in your mind. The dream was that normal.

Except for the part where I won half a billion dollars.

Shifting Pair o’Dimes

In the dream, it was pretty clear what had happened: a friend of mine, a successful author, in collaboration with another friend and mentor, had been given the responsibility to judge a contest where the winner would get $500,000,000. She called me up and said “You won!”

In the dream, there were both expected and unexpected results. Keep in mind this was not me imagining what it would be like to win that kind of money; I completely believed it.

  • I rejoiced that I could finally afford a better computer to do my commercial video editing on. It took a while to realize that I wouldn’t need to be earning money that way any more. Workaholism, much?
  • I recall thinking about paying off all my debts, and saying to my friend “It’s going to be so nice to tell so many people to f*ck off!
  • I planned to buy a private jet and pilot, so that I could continue to travel and teach.
  • via Flickr CC, courtesy of Diosthenese
    y’know, something subtle

    I pictured various ways to help my children, trying to figure out how best to both support them and also encourage them to make their own way. Trust fund? Stipend? How do you balance the need to nurture with the desire to spoil?

  • I also envisioned a Roman-villa-esque house for myself, with an enclosed courtyard and a fountain and enough room that my kids and grandkids could come and visit and stay as long as they liked…while still being able to lock myself away when I wanted some solitude.
  • In the midst of it all, I just sank down to the ground and wept at the relief of not having to worry about finances any more.

When I woke, there wasn’t a sense of crushing disappointment – after all, waking up on Oahu with a great view is not exactly a bad thing – but the more I thought about my reactions to this hyper-realistic dream, the more I learned from it.

The Last Shall Be First

One of the favorite techniques of life coaches and gurus and such is to frame the question: If this was the last day of your life, what would you do with it? The idea is that since every day could be the last day of your life, if there’s things you need to get done, better do them now! It can be a useful tool, I suppose, but the problem I’ve always had with it is the combination of stuff still needs to get done and it’s too late to start most of that stuff anyway.

For example, yesterday I put the finishing touches on a large video editing project that I’ve been working on for the effervescent (and remarkably patient) Pamela Madsen. Yes, it’s “day-job” type work, but it’s work I believe in – as is most of my work. If I found out I was going to die on a Friday, you can bet you’d get a “love” post written during the day.

So I propose you try it from the other way around. What if today was the first day of freedom from your biggest fear/dread/personal problem? For me, it’s money; my relationship with financial energy is so messed up it’s not funny. My subconscious gave me a gift: a glimpse of life without that fear of scarcity.

For you, it may be something different. Maybe you’re afraid of being alone. Maybe you’re afraid of being together. Maybe you’re concerned about your health, or about your car running, about the next round of layoffs at work. Whatever it is, how about trying some lucid dreaming techniques and seeing what life would be like without that fear?

What does it look like if your life actually works the way you want it? For me, it only took a half-billion dollars. For you, maybe it’s the VP walking into your office and saying “We’re promoting you to my job, effective immediately. How would you like the office decorated?” Maybe it’s realizing there was a hidden yoga studio (complete with your favorite instructor) hidden in your basement, with free coffee and a magic ice cream machine that dispenses wonderful completely-healthy custard on demand.

Whatever it is, see what your reaction is. See what would change in your life…and what wouldn’t. Because, in my case, that experience made me realize two things:

  • Everything I would have stopped is exactly what I’m willing to sacrifice for money. The time, the attention, the energy: it’s being prostituted for cash. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s an important thing to recognize.
  • Everything that I would have added to my life is exactly what I actually want. My actions – all of them, minute by minute – are either getting me closer to them, or taking me away from them. Again, not necessarily a bad thing, but the question for both that is worth asking is: Why?

Worth asking, and worth reflecting on. Me, I think I’m going to do some reflecting on the beach (got a few more days here in Maui). I’d be interested in knowing what your Big Fear is…and what a world with that taken away looks like for you.


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