A friend who knows me very well bought me this book. I was most touched.
For he had listened to my little-known old longings, buried as they were under the many happy years of my life, and he had remembered the little story I told very few people. A long time ago, my younger brother and I had whiled away many afternoons sitting on the beach by our house or in the library of the then Portsmouth Polytechnic talking of traveling the world, doing amazing things and living a grand life.
I got pregnant and it never happened for me, though my brother did live his big dreams. He moved to Sydney and became a renowned artist. He has a glittering life, flying all over the world – he is about to attend a wedding in Greece after his exhibition. His art sells for thousands.
But no, I have no regrets. As the song goes, Non, je ne regrette rien.
“I know you have no regrets,” my friend said. “You focused all your energies on your family and into your home, and you have learned to be happy with the change of circumstances. But read this book anyway, now that the last of your children is about to leave home.”
I am actually enjoying this book. I do not have any big dreams particularly, being very happy and content as I am sitting in the Mediterranean sunshine in my cosy cave, but it is insightful to read about the possibilities.
I particularly resonated with something the author of this book wrote: as a mother, we are already thinking creatively when we entertain a bored child or try to make a sumptuous meal on a limited budget. We are good at creative thinking – proficient even – in some parts of our life, but take that one step further, and we flounder.
The author asked his audience at a workshop, “How many of you feel it would be possible to eliminate jails in the next 30 years?”
Everyone came up with compelling reasons why that would not be possible.
The author urged them to consider that is is possible. What would the world be like? The group came up with tentative suggestions, becoming more animated and convinced as they went on: cut down crimes with more youth centres to engage youths, work to eliminate poverty since most crimes come from the low-income levels, conduct research to spot potential criminal and support the person, educate law enforcements personnel into positive methods of reforms, etc.
However, most of us are stuck in the mindset “It cannot be done.” And there we remain.
I know a mother whose son was talented enough to win a partial scholarship to a tennis academy, but he had to find the boarding fees. The mother was crushed by this, because she could not afford to pay the boarding fees. I told her, “It is your son’s dream, so he must work for it himself. Nobody is going to deliver the goodies to you on a silver platter. At 16, he is not too young to write to companies for corporate sponsorship, or offer his services as a tennis coach, or start something to raise the necessary finances. If he wants that dream badly enough, he will get there. No good dreaming big, no good having talents, if you don’t get off your arse, take some risk and do something.”
I think about my second son taking the train to Southampton University on his own at 18 and convincing the university to take him on. That was not his only obstacle. Money was tight because his Local Education Authority would not give him a students’ loan (though British, he had been abroad for 2 years studying), so on his own merit and steam, he won a full academic scholarship from the Royal Navy. If there is a will and strength, there is a way. He was just a normal lad, not a tennis champion or an academic high flyer, but one who grew up knowing the value of independence, courage and hard work. He reminded me of a very important lesson: we must work for our dreams too, because no one can buy our dreams for us. Dream big, yes, but get real too. I realised, my younger brother must have worked so very hard to establish himself as an artist in Sydney, the city of many great talents, but he did it. So could you and I.
Though for now, I shall just run my beloved mountain roads, have wine with good friends and read countless books ❤