I plan on going to Ghana this year!! It will be such an honor and such a memory to cherish. 4 months ago
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I know it might sound hokey, but sometime last year, while unemployed and struggling to climb out of a deep well of depression, I thought about a piece of advice I’d read (and dismissed) to find images that represent the things you want, or a mood you’d like to feel, and put make a sort of “dream board” of them, positioned so that you’d have no choice but to see them every day.
I experimented with making collages and using them as the wallpaper of my laptop (but I never really look at the desktop for long), and of finding very specific images of things I wanted and printing them out and leaving them next to my bed (but they would get spilled on and crumpled and eventually land on the floor and get swept under my bed…).
One day a coupon for a free poster size print appeared in my inbox, and I used it to print out 3 simple images of a sun setting behind an Acacia tree on the Serengeti plains. It represented so many things to me. My lifelong dream to go to Africa. My love of sunsets and the feelings I associate with them… dreams, beauty, peace, hope, awe, connection… all things I had not felt in years, and all things that I was incapable of feeling while laying in the bottom of the depression well.
I taped the poster over a framed print hanging over my mirror directly opposite my bed. It was the first thing I saw in the morning and the last thing I saw at night. As far as a “dream board” went, I felt like this was a fairly lame representation as it was just 3 different views of the same scene, and nothing especially tangible to focus on. But it made me feel good to look at it and visually I simply loved it, and that made me focus on it as the months went by rather than having it become familiar and invisible wallpaper to me.
Many months went by and I sometimes wondered why I bothered with the dream board idea when all I ever did was look at it, and I never made a single move to actually have anything associated with it.
Fast forward many more months and a lot of dithering that I did in writing here on 43 things. The idea occurred to me that being unemployed and therefore uncommitted to a job had two sides to it: I felt depressed, untethered and lost, but I could be depressed, untethered and lost on a different continent just as effectively… and perhaps give myself something to work toward. I desperately needed a goal, and focused all my energy and time (and neuroses..) on figuring out a way to financially get myself to Africa.
I realized I could rent out my home for the summer. I realized that I could pare down my home and my things while preparing my home for rental, and I could sell the unnecessary things. I realized that I could reach out to family and friends who would encourage me. I realized the problems standing between me and the feelings represented by the sunset behind the acacia trees were surmountable with some courage, hard work and willingness to look for alternative paths.
So I did it all: rented my home, sold a lot of possessions, allowed family and friends to boost my confidence (and kindly watch my pets) and found different paths forward than those I’d assumed were my only options. Within a month of making these choices, I was standing on the tarmac of an airport in East Africa. And within a few weeks of that, I was standing on the Serengeti plains, lifting my camera to take a picture of the sun setting behind an acacia tree.
The months I spent there changed me. I arrived home to two completely unexpected jobs, which have proven to be a difficult juggling act but I’m so grateful to have them and even better, they actually reflect a lot more of who I am than I ever anticipated. I also carried so much inside me from my months in Africa… and the experience of actually reaching for something I wanted and allowing myself to take it when it arrived was perhaps the most important experience of all.
I woke up this morning and my eyes fell on the sunset dream board pictures that I love too much to take down, and I dug through my Africa photos and found my own (much fuzzier, much less orange!) versions of those dreams… and I’m just so proud.
I’ve decided that from now on, I will create a “dream board” and allow myself to daydream over it—and then when I do achieve what I set out for, however it goes, I will tack my own version of the dream right next to it – maybe the “reality board”?? lol I love the idea. Here’s my dream and reality boards… in my dreams I guess I was a better photographer… 5 months ago