I have a copy of this children’s book that I take everywhere I go. It’s called An Awesome Book, and everyone I know who’s had a baby in the past six months owns a copy, because I bought one for them. It’s a kids’ book, but I think the message is for adults too.
I like it because it reminds me that I don’t need things, but I need dreams, goals, things I decided I wanted to do one day when I was looking out a window somewhere scratching my chin and thinking about what my life should look like. And Dallas Clayton draws incredible unicorns and dinosaurs and bears.
My favorite passage in the book is this:
There are places in the world where people dream up dreams
so simply un-fantastical and practical they seem
to lose all possibility of thinking super things
of dancing wild animals with diamond-coated wings
instead they dream of furniture
of buying a new hat
of owning matching silverware
can you imagine that?
I like to buy books for my friends’ children because I think stories are more meaningful than toys, and more memorable. And that goes for adults, too, although sometimes we forget it because we make our lives so hectic.
If you do anything at all in the outdoors, somewhere in your mind is the capacity to dream big, or envision yourself doing something amazing. You want to ride Slickrock, climb El Cap or Mount Rainier, run the NYC Marathon or the Western States 100, or do a raft trip in the Grand Canyon. Maybe you just want to be a climber, or a skier, or a mountain biker. Or marry a beautiful girl, or see the Eiffel Tower, or write a book.
But we get busy. Too busy scrolling our phone screens, watching TV, catching up with all the mundane shit in life and we forget about our dreams. We say things like “I don’t have time,” and when we get frustrated that we don’t have enough time, we assuage that feeling of impotence by buying shit we don’t need, which we think will make us feel better. Granite countertops, leather sofas, sometimes skis, climbing gear or bikes we never use. Maybe that’s because we’re scared of whatever it is we’ve been thinking about for so long, or maybe it’s easier to buy something instead of doing something. Or maybe something we saw told us our dream was something different, and we bought into that.
A few months ago, I was talking to a friend of mine and she told me she had always dreamed of going to Hawaii for her tenth wedding anniversary. I asked Are you going, and she said Well, we don’t know, for a number of reasons — a new house, some stress and financial things with a new business, et cetera. I said I think you gotta put that shit on a credit card if you can and go to Hawaii this year. We go into debt for tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars for the most mundane things — houses, cars, sometimes furniture, sprinkler systems — but most of us have a hard time sliding our credit card or taking money out of a savings account to pay for what could be the experience of a lifetime.
If you start a sentence off with, “I’ve always wanted to …”, you either
- aren’t going to do it, which means it’s not really your dream, or
- just haven’t done it yet.
Procrastinating, putting it off is fine as long as you’re 100 percent sure that you’re not going to die in the next year. Because you’re going to die someday, and if you’re honest with yourself, you will admit that you never once as a kid said to anyone, When I grow up I want matching drapes, or a riding lawnmower that mulches too or a cozy living room. You wanted to be a cowboy or a polar explorer or Amelia Earhart.