“Goodbye, Alice in Wonderland” By Jewel

It occurs to me that I might be Alice.

An older, sappier, more exhausted version of Alice in Wonderland, but crazily imaginative nonetheless.

And, while my imagination is vital to my existence, it oftentimes will get me into some trouble.

Author George MacDonald once wrote:

“The imagination will yet work; and if not for good then for evil; if not for truth then for falsehood; if not for life, then for death. . . . The power that might have gone forth in conceiving the noblest forms of action, in realizing the lives of the true-hearted, the self-forgetting, will go forth in building airy castles of vain ambition, of boundless riches, of unearned admiration.”

I wonder if I am playing in an airy castle of vain ambition.

I wonder if my vision has run away with my imagination.

I wonder if I have imagined this desire or dream for a different, more creative, more liberating, more glamorous life when maybe, I am living my desired life right now, and I’m just too distracted by fear of the future to notice.

This moment I have here, in my house, my sweet baby boy asleep, the sun shining through the windows paid for by a teaching gig, an advisor’s salary, and some musically made money on the side… this moment is different, more creative, more liberating, and more glamorous than the last one I just lived. And because I’m still here, I am entitled to it. And because God is the giver of this life, and He’s made us for His joy, I am entitled not only to this life but to enjoy it.

The truth is… I will never think there is enough time, to read, to write, to play with my baby boy, to spend with my husband, to figure myself out. Even while I was on maternity leave, I complained about not having enough time. Yet, somehow, now that I’m back, I have found time to begin crafting a blog, to write articles for a website, to continue to breastfeed my boy and entertain him during most of the hours that he’s awake, and to spend time with my husband. And with God. Maybe not as much time as I dreamed about, but like I said, I will never think there is enough time.

The ingredient that softens this hard human truth is the fact that I happen to work very well under pressure. I don’t know why that’s me, but it is, and I have always been this way. I can procrastinate because once time is running out, I seem to work more efficiently and have “better ideas” or can at least more easily weed out the stinky ones. Don’t get me wrong, I still plan out projects and budget for time. I still do lesson plans. BUT, most times, I end up going a different direction at the very last second, and the outcome is always much richer and more brilliant than anything I was planning. So, maybe I need what I have. Maybe I have what I need…

Alice had what most would call contentment and provision: a nice quiet afternoon lounging under a tree next to the peaceful river with her sister, reading a book. How idyllic! And yet, she was BORED. So, she fell asleep and dreamed of the craziest events her mind could conjure up. It was a dream full of fantasy and wonderment and magic, both thrilling and frightening, where a girl could safely and truly follow her curiosities and see firsthand her role in the grander story. It was what she was missing in her life.

The only thing is, it wasn’t real. It was all in her mind.

I want this badly; to be like Alice and follow my curiosities and discover where they’ll lead me, not just in a dream, but in reality. I do not want to simply settle for a job that bores me just because it’s safe. I don’t want to waste away on the riverbank of feigned contentment. I don’t believe in ‘fake it til you make it’ as a sound life philosophy.

But I also don’t want to wake up one day, a pile of leaves in my face, with only the foggy memory of the dazzling dream I once had when my soul was so bored I couldn’t take it anymore.

It may not look how I wanted it to look, or be about the things I thought it would be, this life.

This is more than okay. This is good. It’s great, actually. Because many of my plans back then turned out to pale in comparison to what has happened so far. The truth has been WAY stranger and more fantastic by far than the fiction I imagined my life to be.

I also know this truth…Happiness is a state of mind. Joy, peace, contentment, and all other concepts synonymous bloom in the mind first. External events surely play a role, but happiness is the same gift given in plenty and in wanting, in trials and triumphs, in boredom and in wonderland, and it’s ours for the taking right now. It is a choice, and an overall vision, and only the truly bravest of souls will continue to choose happiness when the world around her looks old and worn and feels all wrong. Only the most valiant woman knows and acts on the knowledge that being fully alive right now is enough, and she uses her courage to fight for this truth by waking up every day even when she’s had enough and saying, “Good morning! I’m here.”

Maybe I’ve been holding a fantasy in reality’s rightful place, like a fun-house mirror image of myself, all wobbly and distorted and thankfully, not real.

Reality: I have a job with an insanely repetitive and non-stop schedule but which loves me dearly and pays the bills. I worked hard to be able to do this job, and I work very well under the pressure despite how I may feel about it many times.

Fantasy: I have a job with no schedule except what I decide, where I can roll out of bed and work at my leisure, writing books and songs.

Reality: I’m looking at life in the fun-house mirror, and I’m completely distracted by Fantasy. Writing books and songs and them selling them for money actually takes an insane amount of work and is actually not a leisurely activity at all. In fact, the schedule of the well-paid author or singer is probably ten times more congested than mine.

Ooh! This is kind of fun! Let’s try it again….

Reality: I have a desire to write and be creative beyond what my profession allows.

Fantasy: I have no desires other than all the things I already have, and my life is the envy of all I meet.

Reality: Desire has a place in all human life, because that is how growth can happen, and growth MUST happen, or we die. If you’re not growing, you’re dying. And there is space and time for the things I desire to happen, but it will look and feel and happen differently than what I might envision. And this is a good thing in the grand scheme of life because mostly, my visions are limited.

SO…. I think George and Jewel are on to something. There is a difference between dreaming and pretending, and its distinction lies in whether the dream or the imagination takes root in my action to accept or deny what it really is right now. I dream of being fulfilled by the way I support my family financially, and I imagine what life will be like when it feels so good to wake up and go to work each day happy and come home each day satisfied. Right now, I must accept the fact that this is not the most satisfying work to me, and I must not deny myself the chance to say once in a while, “This sucks.” I must also accept the fact that there are some really brilliant things going on in my life that are worth celebrating even though it doesn’t look exactly like I had hoped, and I must not deny that many times, I feel so breathless with JOY about how life is right now.

I do not want to get fat on fantasy while in reality, my soul wastes away. I do not want to take the fantastic fall down the rabbit hole only to find out that it was never real. I do not want to imagine a life based on vain entertainment when I could be inspiring real people and making real differences right now, for real, with the same talents and treasures I’m born curious by.

A Letter to My Reality:

Job, I accept you for what you are right now, and I will not deny us the happiness you’ve allowed to grow in our lives. There will be a time when you and I will part ways, but for now, I accept you and ENJOY you.

Dream, I accept you for what you are right now, and I will not deny us the faith it takes to see what we will really become. I will no longer hold you to the standard I designed for you, because I fully admit, my standard is low. I will not cheapen you with dollars earned, but I will value you with time spent. You and I can have each other and our songs and stories right now for free.

Family and friends, I am sorry for the bullshit that these emotional tantrums have become. You have so graciously put up with it for the past three years, and I think that’s plenty. You are more precious to me than any other thing I could ever hope to have in this life. I would be a garbage swimmer for you if I had to. And I’m really glad that’s not a thing, but I would do it for you. Let’s just sit here now on the banks of this peace-like-a-river. Read me a story. I’ll listen with a smile on my face that is real, even if it bores me a little.

 

Love,

Your Alice

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It’s four in the afternoon
I’m on a flight leaving L.A.
Trying to think about my life
My youth scattered along the highway

Hotel rooms and headlights
I’ve made a living with a song
Guitar as my companion
Wanting desperately to belong

Fame is filled with spoiled children
We grow fat on fantasy
I guess that’s why I’m leaving
I crave reality

So goodbye Alice in Wonderland
Goodbye yellow brick road
There is a difference between dreaming and pretending
I did not find paradise
It was only a reflection of my lonely mind wanting
What’s been missing in my life

I’m embarrassed to say the rest is a rock and roll cliché
I hit the bottom when I reached the top
But I never knew it was you who was breaking my heart
I thought you had to love me
But you did not

Yes a heart can hallucinate
If it’s completely starved for love
It can even turn monsters into
Angels from above

You forged my love just like a weapon
And you turned it against me like a knife
You broke my last heartstring
You opened up my eyes

 

 

So goodbye Alice in Wonderland
Goodbye yellow brick road
There is a difference between dreaming and pretending
That was not love in your eyes
It was only a reflection of my lonely mind searching
what was missing in my life

Growing up is not an absence of dreaming
It’s being able to understand the difference between the ones you can hold
And the ones that you’ve been sold
And Dreaming is a good thing cause it brings new things to life
But pretending is an ending that perpetuates a lie
Forgetting what you are
Seeing for what you’ve been told

Ohh truth is stranger than fiction
This is my chance to get it right
And life is much better without all of those pretty lies

Ohh So Goodbye Alice in Wonderland
And you can keep your yellow brick road
There is a difference between dreaming and pretending
These are not tears in my eyes
They are only a reflection of my lonely mind finding
They are only a reflection of my lonely mind finding
I found what’s missing in my life

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