A Year of Unreasonable Dreams
At the last adoption conference I attended, I was asked to be part of an authors’ panel. Somehow when I said yes I missed the part where we were told we’d be talking about shame and stigma. The other two authors, the mediator, and I were two first/birth moms and two adoptees. None of us were thrilled by the shame and stigma topic. We were like: why?
Who is it going to benefit? Was the audience, a mix of basically half birth/first parents and half adoptees going to leave the room stronger and more informed because we talked about shame and stigma? Maybe if the combination and been shame and jelly, or stigma and peanut butter we could have swallowed them better.
The mediator asked me to find a section of my book that dealt with shame and I told her I didn’t think there was any, but then I opened my book, scanned the first passage that came into view, and I realized basically the whole book was about shame, about the shame of being not what I or what I thought others wanted. Crap.
Happily, I said I never felt a stigma about being adopted. I was never, ever teased or made to feel isolated by others because I was adopted. I was able to do that to myself really well. I didn’t need anyone else to feel like something was wrong with me. When your mother gives you up and refuses to meet you, it’s not that hard to slip into poor self-esteem. So there’s that.
But here’s the thing: I wrote about being adopted. I woke up to the shock of how deeply, how completely being relinquished and adopted had affected both my mind and my body, and I’d spent over a year basically grieving full time.
And now I want to have fun. Seriously. I lived a half-life before I faced the grief I’d carried like jagged stones in my belly, and then I’d lived a life of tears, and now I just want to see what will happen next. I want to see how many people I can lift in my own effort of getting really, really high.
I took a look at my life. I’d had a child; I’d made a move; I’d written a book. My dream bag was empty. Granted, I wanted a place of my own to live and money in the bank, but as the air around me is full of smoke from the Sonoma fires, I’m reminded that that stuff can disappear. I want a dream I can look at on my death bed, one that will make me smile and thank the universe for letting me give it my best shot. I want to know that I spent it all on the craps table.
So here’s my dream: I want to sing Dream On with Aerosmith and Run DMC. I want to do it in front of a room full of adopted kids and foster care kids, and I want these kids to all be wearing superhero capes. Darryl McDaniels from Run DMC is adopted (and if you haven't heard his Moth talk about singing with Sarah McLachlan, you've missed something amazing) and Steven Tyler is 1. a Boston dude and 2. has his own story about claiming a daughter. Dream On gives me goosebumps every time I hear it, and I’ve heard it a zillion times because I have played it over and over and over again ever since I was a teenager.
One little fact is that I can’t hit notes. Another way to say this is I can’t sing, but I’m not going to say that for the very reason that when people tell me they can’t write I think they’re insane. Even if they don’t have arms they can write because there are dictation machines. It’s not that you physically can’t write, it’s that you think you aren’t good, and I’m not buying that Snicker’s Bar any more. Who CARES if you don’t sound like every dead white guy who fills the libraries of our nation? Who CARES if I can’t hold a note? Maybe if I went to Mars and sang in my wobbly, uneven voice to the beings standing there they would bow down and crown me. Maybe I just
can’t sing on Earth. So I’m gonna sing.
I already did.
Today, I took Sal out with me in my car and he made a video of me singing Dream On as we drove down the coast. I wasn’t even embarrassed that I sounded nothing like Steven Tyler. I was happy. I was out there, living. I was doing what I wanted without worrying about words such as good or bad. I was doing the opposite of my mother did, which was to die before her dreams came true. I mean, I could die this year, and Aerosmith and Run DMC could pass on this event, but I would have died taking singing lessons; I would have died thinking I was going to be on stage singing my heart out with the wild rockers to all those largely unrecognized caped wonders. My brain would have seen it all happening already, so in that way I have already made it happen, I’ve already sung Dream on with Aerosmith and Run DMC because I dreamed it, and I can die complete.
I used to think that telling your story was the most important thing, but now I think it is dreaming. Dreams catapult us into the future, where stories can trap us in the past. Combine both and you’ve got a superpower of your own: free will.
I have decided I now live in The Year of Unreasonable Dreams. I want you to ask for more than you think you deserve, more than you think you can deliver, more than you think you can handle. I want you to scare yourself. I want you to let go of the safety bar and feel the full glory of the ride. Why? Because I want to do it myself, and I need help.
I want to bring all my friends with me on this adventure. I want them to have big dreams, dreams that make the world wilder, more fun, more loving, more hopeful, more alive. I want us to do this together, for when you have heart, commitment, focus, and community, the cards are stacked in your favor.
Every time when I look in the mirror
All these lines on my face getting clearer
The past is gone
It went by, like dusk to dawn
Isn't that the way
Everybody's got the dues in life to pay
I know nobody knows
Where it comes and where it goes
I know it's everybody sin
You got to lose to know how to win
Half my life
Is books written pages
Live and learn from fools and
You know it's true, oh
All these things you do come back to you
Sing with me, sing for the years
Sing for the laughter, sing for the tears
Sing with me, just for today
Maybe tomorrow, the good lord will take you away
Yeah, sing with me, sing for the year
Sing for the laughter, sing for the tear
Sing with me, just for today
Maybe tomorrow, the good Lord will take you away
I'm in the process of forming my Dream Posse. Let me know if you want to join.