On the Ridiculousness of Dreaming Big

(dreamy iPhoto taken on my Mac. not my heart lace curtains in the background.)

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about dreaming big. Putting yourself out there and hoping for the best. Better yet, believing that the best will come. This has gotten hard for me in the past decade. Not because I believed in the best and didn't see it come to pass, but because some hard things happened. Things I wasn't even thinking about - best or worst case scenario. Life just swooped in and took over. My parents divorced. My relationship with my dad all but withered up as a result. I got married only to find that my own marriage experience was extremely difficult. I simply saw how difficult life can be. So, for me, the thought of dreaming big . . . believing big . . . seems crazy. Why would I start to expect great things when I know that at the end of the day, life is just hard?

But the reality is, I have spent the last 10 years living as a skeptic. Expecting the worst. Hunting it down. Pulling it out of people. And it has been hard. I am tired. And in a lot of physical pain. Expecting the worst was my way of protecting myself. I figured that the worst was inevidable, so I might as well be in control and find it before it finds me. In the end, it is wearing me down. Not only that, I do believe that when we look for something, that is what we will find. Well, I have spent too much time looking for the worst. But it is scary to consider my alternative. What if I start looking for and expecting the best and I don't find it? What then?

As I look into the next decade, if I allow myself to dream, I see babies and new career paths, a tight circle of local friends doing life together, and a ridiculously rich, romantic, and even *gasp* easy relationship with my husband. And that, right there, is where I start to recoil. "Who am I to dream of an easy marriage? Marriage isn't easy. Not for anyone. It is hard work. You know this, Cara. You are being ridiculous!" The words start flooding my mind. When I begin to dream of a quick, complication-free conception followed by a dreamy pregnancy, a baby that latches easily and learns to sleep through the night, I hear the same voices. "That is ridiculous! That is not even close to reality! You can't control that stuff! It is going to be incredibly hard. You are just going to have to deal with it! It will be so hard." Well, maybe it will be hard. Maybe I will struggle with fertility. Or maybe I will be sick for nine months. Maybe. Maybe my baby will be colicky like his or her momma was. Maybe. But maybe not. Maybe not. And it is that space, the "maybe not" space, that I want to begin exploring. The space of possibility. The space of hope.

What will happen to me if I begin hoping for the best? Expecting the best? Will it come more easily because my heart is open to it? Or will I be crushed by disappointing realities that come
regardless of my posture towards the future? What then? Will I feel foolish and embarrassed? Will I have a hard time hoping again? Who will protect me if I am not "prepared" or "protected" for the worst? But then I also think, "What if hoping opens you up to all sorts of magical possibilities that you would not have otherwise? Do you really really want to miss that out of your efforts to protect yourself from disappointment?"