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I walk slowly, leaning forward, as I approach the cabin. It sits in a clearing, where there are just enough trees to frame it, and few enough to allow the sun to regularly touch its natural beauty. As I get to the front door, I pause, unlock it and push the door open.
As I step inside, the smell of wood greets me. I look around to admire its simplicity and intimacy. On the left is a settee adjacent to one comfortable chair, my favorite, where I curl up to read. Farther back in the room is a doorway that leads to my small bedroom with enough room for a bed, a side table piled with books and a shelf with trinkets from my travels. I glance against the back wall, and there is a basic bathroom, and then to the right, a kitchen with a miniature refrigerator. A wood-burning stove rests on a platform near the south wall, with a stack of wood ready to be consumed. Colorful curtains of an olden style grace the windows; they are usually open, but closed at night to keep out the cold winter nights. And a large woven rug rests in the center of the room.
Wherever possible, everything is made with wood: the floors are wood, the kitchen counters are treated wood, the table is carved from wood And as I turn to my right, the glory of the room greets me: it is a large window that faces west. It allows plenty of light for my wooden writing table, where I will spend much of my time. It is not a desk, which implies work, manila files and drawers full of paper clips. Just a smooth writing table with a simple chair, just my size. It fits me like a comfortable shawl.
And it’s all mine.
At least in my dream.
Most of my adult life I have wanted to have a mountain cabin. A retreat. A place for silence and contemplation and writing. And recently I realized, truly knew, that I would not have that cabin. The reasons are practical and numerous. If I defied the truth and acted selfishly and determinedly, I could have the cabin. But I simply cannot.
What does it mean to give up a dream, that represents so much? I could be bitter, resentful, and sad. But since my realization has been in the works for a while, at the back of my mind, tugging at my consciousness, I won’t experience any of those things.
Instead, I am aware of all that I have in spite of letting go of my dream: a life full of blessings; a joy of writing; people to love. Instead of focusing on my wants or my losses, I realize I’ve received so much by giving to others and been blessed with their love in return. I also have learned that a retreat is more than a place where one goes. A retreat can be found in every moment, where we contemplate the challenges and glories of life. Inside there I have found peace.
We all have dreams, some fleeting, some persistent. For those dreams we treasure, we can pursue them and realize them and live them out with joy and enthusiasm. But there will be those dreams that life will tell us that in the greater scheme of things, they are not so important after all. Some of the dreams of our youth pale in comparison to the opportunities we encounter in real life. When we seize those gifts, we can learn the blessings of what it means to be truly alive.
Are there dreams that you’ve released? Do you regret letting them go?
Are there dreams that you’ve realized? In what ways have they enriched your life?