Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Castles in the air and dreaming

“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams,
and endeavors to live the life which he
has imagined, he will meet with success unexpected in common hours ….
If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost;
that is where they should be.
Now put the foundations under them.”
Henry David Thoreau

When I was a little girl I dreamt of fairy-tale castles rising out of the mists of happily ever after. I imagined myself wearing glass slippers lovingly placed upon my size 5 feet by my one and only knight in shining armor, my very own Prince Charming.

As I grew and life’s journey hit me with its inevitable trials and tribulations, joys and triumphs, I let go of some of my magical thinking. Occasionally I tested the rails of my white picket fence illusions as I climbed the corporate ladder shod in my size 9 combat boots with their sensible heels and cushioned soles. Sometimes, I booted the heck out of fools dressed in princes clothing as I lived it up, larger than life, dressed in my designer togs and all the trappings of my success.

But, I never let go of my childhood imaginings. In the dead of night, when only my dreams were awake and longing for the sunrise of a new day dawning, I secretly clung to the vision of a glass slipper that would never break. I’d whisper into my pillow my yearnings for the man who would ride in through the gaps separating my reality from my dreams and set me free. Only he could make it all worth my while to have journeyed thus far in these size 9 shoes that fit their purpose but cramped my style.

I was meant to be a fairytale princess! Why on earth was I living the life of a single mother and career woman with size 9 feet, taking charge of her life and everyone else’s too? In the confessional of my shower, I’d sing the siren’s call for my one true love to come sailing in out of the mists. I envisioned my Adonis, tall and proud, the wind blowing his curly locks from his broad forehead, the muscles rippling upon his bronzed and gleaming chest as he stood, strong and free in the golden light of the sun dancing upon the crashing waves through which only one so brave as he dared venture. In his large hands, nicely manicured I might add, he held my perfect pair of Size 5 Prada’s. They were meant for me and only me. My fair prince had been searching the world over for my perfect fairy tale princess feet to slip them onto. These were the shoes of my dreams and mine were the soles that had been calling him onward through the storms and trials of his odyssey through time. These heels would set me dancing upon the road of life in step with my Prince, finally alive in the golden dawn of our tomorrows bathed in the rosy glow of happily ever after.

What dreams we weave when life does not fit our illusions. At night I’d dream, storing my secret longings into the corners of my mind as I traveled the convoluted alley ways and by ways of tales I’d dragged from childhood and never discarded on the road of life. By dawn's early light, I’d arise, organize my day and my daughters’ lives. I’d walk the dog, prepare lunches and get a move on.

Sometimes, I’d meet a man who appeared to be ‘the one’, but, inevitably, the shoe didn't fit or simply lost a heel or got worn down. So, I’d take it off (or he’d take it off me!) and I’d toss it aside onto the stormy seas of life as I kept moving along. Bereft of yet another pair of what I had perceived to be the perfect fitting soles, I'd try another pair. Eyes closed, I’d stuff my bruised and battered feet into yet another pair of shoes that did not quite fit, because, who ever heard of a fairy tale princess with big feet hoofing it alone on the highway of life? Having spent my life making the medium fit the message, I knew that if the shoe didn’t fit, I still had to wear it! How else would I find my happy ending promised to me once upon a time so long ago?

There were times in that journey that I tried to go barefoot. I wanted to feel the green, green grasses of home sweet home that I created for me and mine or test the waters of a far and distant shore. But no matter how brave or daring or independent I became or how many times I tried to step out of those boots that just kept walking on and on and on, messages from the past kept haunting me. It's not safe to walk the road without a man to protect you. It's not wise to dance barefoot in the dawn. Watch out for broken glass. Don't climb too high, you might fall or lose your way without someone else to light the path with his strength and wisdom. And above all else, if the shoe don't fit but the price is right, buy them anyway. You can always stretch them but you may never find another pair at that price again. Disaster! Even when sometimes I realized I was paying too steep a price, I was beaten down and exhausted. There was no way I was going to pay attention to my own distant drummer and get into my own beat!

And then he sailed in. The instrument of my awakening. He was just a man. But what a man. He was transparent as a beautiful mirage, an oasis in my dusty travels across the desert. An apparition of my dreams. My one true love. My soul mate. He saw me standing there in my size 9 combat boots and held out to me the perfectly glass heeled perfection of the Size 5 Prada’s of my dreams. With an exhausted, but oh so grateful, sigh that he could see me for whom I really was, I stepped into the carefully cut crystals of his illusions and, though they pinched a little bit at the toes, and made my arches ache, I didn’t care. He was holding me steady on his course, taking me to my destiny of happily ever after on tiny, twinkling dainty like soles that sparkled in the light fantastic.

What a lovely dream it was.

Like everything made of thin air, my bubble burst, throwing me to the ground where I lay bleeding in the dirt of the road to hell. My glass slippers lay shattered on the ground, their tiny shards glistening in the blood of my broken heart as I tried to sweep the evidence of their breaking-up into the muddy waters of my tears coursing all around me. My soles were cut and bruised, bleeding copiously, scarred beyond recognition. My back ached. My heart yearned for my comfortable, familiar, easy to take Size 9 combat boots of the past. I wondered how I would ever find the strength to fit these mangled, deformed appendages into even a pair of thongs, let along sensible walking shoes that would carry me off the road to hell back to the familiar territory of my life.

As often happens when fairy tales end and real life takes over, a wondrous thing happened. A ray of sunshine appeared upon the horizon, cast a rainbow upon the puddle of my tears and captured my imagination. I looked up to see a glimmer of hope glistening in the dawn. Adonis had sailed off into another sunset but I had risen to another day, stronger, more vibrant and more full of colour than ever before. I didn’t have to wear any shoes if I didn’t want to. I didn’t have to shove my feet into pointed toes, or 6 inch heels or even combat boots. I could walk my road of life with grace and dignity, as long as I stayed true to my one true self.

It was then I awoke to the truth. This man who had swept in upon a boat of a thousand promises, singing a song of dreams come true had left me with a gift far greater than any promise he had ever made me. He may have shattered my beautiful glass slippers but I had survived that journey into hell and come through to the other side of happily ever after.
Into the thousands of fragments of my glass slippers I let go of the illusion that my destiny waits in size 5 Prada's or in the hands of any man, or woman for that matter, who would hold out my dreams to me.

No one holds the secret pathway that will take me into walking my truth. That is my journey of me, myself and I. No one can give me my dreams come true. My dreams are mine to create. Mine to awaken. I had stood so long in the shadows of my life, looking for someone to hand me the perfect fitting shoes to walk in that I had let go of my truth. There is no perfect shoe to fit my dreams, but there is a perfect fit to my life. It is me. I am it. I am my dreams.

This pauper in prince’s clothing showed me through the mirror of his lies, that the greatest lie of all lived within me. Through the illusionary art of his web of finely woven untruths and deceits I came face to face with my greatest truth and my biggest fear -- turning up for my Beauty and my Beast in love with all that I am meant to be.

Barefoot or not, my soul is free to shine and I am free to be all of me when I walk, with truth, integrity and beauty upon my road of life, unencumbered by the belief that anyone else can show me the way if only I wear the magic slippers of their making.

Today, I'm comfortable in my size 9 feet. Comfortable in how I fit my life and how it fits me. It's perfect for me because only I can make my dreams come true.

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