Dreamers only dream, but creators bring their dreams into reality. – Robert Fritz
Let me tell you about a little dream that I brought into reality.
I wanted a “secret” garden. A little oasis in a surprising spot, filled with living treasures that would reveal its happy secrets if you chose to spend a few minutes in it. An odd nook on the front of my house, where an old addition intersects with the original home proved to be just the spot. Not only can we see it when we’re sitting down for a meal, but, because it’s at the front of the house, it welcomes me every time I arrive home.
For a dream to blossom, sometimes you have to ditch your plan.
You’d think bringing a little garden like mine to life would be more of a plan than a dream, right? Not so much. Had I adhered stubbornly to my original plan for this garden, it never would have blossomed into its full potential.
I vividly remember the garden as I first dreamed it – a surprising little path that I would line with plants that reminded me of places and people I loved. Back then, its central feature was a little curved row of slate pavers that I’d salvaged from my old, decrepit back patio. I thought they would be perfect to lure you in and inspire a little imagination. They felt just right for a “secret” garden.
For the front corner, I splurged on a hydrangea tree that I’d been told would one day be quite a statement, but at the moment barely registered as a detail. My heart was in the treasures that filled the rest of the corner. To anchor the back edge of the garden I chose three Annabelle hydrangeas mainly because my mom and I loved their name. I lined the edge of the walkway with dozens of ferns that reminded me of the ones my dad collects at their New Hampshire lake house. Into the these, I interspersed several delicate Astilbes that my mom gave me from her own garden.
Ten years later, the three Annabelle hydrangeas that we originally purchased are still bearing their lacy flowers from this summer. They are glorious, full-sized bushes now. The hydrangea tree has also grown and is exactly the statement we dreamed it would be. It is what it drapes over that is surprising.
While most of my mom’s Astilbe have survived, none of my precious ferns did. I hung tough for a few years, replacing struggling plant after plant. Then I took a step back and reconsidered the dream of my garden. I chose to put in some Solomon’s Seal because it was my favorite part of the garden at our first home. I also chose an enormous Elephant Ear hosta that I’d been fascinated by during a garden tour. These additions flourished and took my garden in a whole new direction.
Now our hydrangea tree shelters a lush, wildly varied assortment of hostas that I have collected patiently over the years. For variety, I added a few more treasures from my mom’s garden. I’d say my dream has come true, but I now realize that my “secret” garden will keep revealing itself to me as long as I stay open to new ideas and engaged with the work of creating it.
Don’t fight! Let your dreams go their own way.
The curved slate pathway of my garden, and the surprising twists and turns of its evolution, I realize, are wonderful metaphors for anything I yearn to do or create or be “one day.” The greatest secret treasure my garden has given me is recognizing the patience and contentment I felt in the process of bringing my garden to fruition, willingness to let it go its own way at times, and ability to maintain my roles as both dreamer and a creator.
I was somewhat less of a natural dreamer with regards to my yoga practice. I haven’t always been willing to trust the process of progress on my mat. Especially in the early days, I rarely relished each step along my way to mastery the way I did with my garden. Instead, I allowed myself to become distracted and frustrated by how much further I had to go. It is only after years of experience that I understand that, like my garden, my physical yoga practice flourishes from creativity, a willingness to embrace failures and to let them inspire me to try new directions. After years on my mat, I am only beginning to sense the same tender patience and a willingness to let things take their course that I quite naturally experience in the garden.
It has been easier for me to balance my dual roles as dreamer and creator in my journey as a teacher. Each iteration of myself as a teacher has come as a lovely surprise – from leading yoga classes to developing a full yoga teacher-training program to becoming a professor of a college philosophy class. Yet, though each step felt like something I would have told you I’d never dreamed of doing, each also required a great deal of careful planning, hard work and a huge dose of passion to bring to fruition, just like my garden did.
When you’re dreaming, mistakes are opportunities.
As a teacher, it’s also been easier for me to readily embrace my mistakes as chances to great creative and try again the way I do in my garden. Yoga classes where I mess up royally became like puzzles to solve as I try to work the class to a logical conclusion. Teacher training workshops that fall flat are opportunities to reorganize my thoughts, try new techniques and even to do some more research. Philosophy discussions that go wildly off track almost always yield great ideas that I incorporate into my plan for the next semester.
Looking back, I see that when you’re executing a plan, mistakes can feel like failures. But when you’re bringing a dream to fruition, discovering some “room for improvement” feels invigorating! It’s exciting to contemplate all the new ways you could possibly stretch and grow.
Go ahead. Dream a little dream.
I’m sure this isn’t true only for me. What if you and I were both brave enough to set aside our plans to replace them with dreams? Come on. Dream with me … I’ll go first. One day, I dream of adding a little bench to my secret garden so I can sit there and dream. One day, I dream of being able to float around on my yoga mat like those graceful visions I see on Instagram. One day, I dream of being able to teach like those brilliant souls I watch in TED Talks.
Now you go. Don’t let your plans or lack of plans hold you back. What do you dream?
If you’re nurturing a dream, a deep dive into yoga philosophy can be just the catalyst to help you bring your dream to life. My college-level Yoga Philosophy Master Class launches in just a few weeks. Stay tuned!