What would you do if you could do anything?
Who were you really meant to be in the first place?
Who is the real you, the one you see in your mind’s eye?
Where would you live, what would your days be like?
I’ve been idly pondering these things since December. Not all the time, obviously (!!!), but whenever I get the chance to let my imagination run loose for a bit.
It’s like walking your dog – I say to my imagination, “Okay, we have 15 minutes – go! Run! Enjoy the freedom!” And then it’s back to chores/work/sleep. I tie the leash on my thoughts again. Until next time.
Of course, I already had the answers to all these questions ready in my mind. Waiting for someone, if not myself, to access them. To ask for them. Which is what made these particular questions so deliciously intriguing.
Don’t we all have visions of ourselves, life plans, and goals? Happy moments where everything seemed just right, moments we want to keep repeating forever?
Even though I’m very happy with my life right now and I have always carved everything into exactly the shape I’ve wanted it to be, taking control of the ship and not letting it go adrift, I still haven’t achieved my ultimate nirvana. And it occurs to me that maybe it’ll always be like that, maybe we are designed to always strive for more.
My mind flies back to when I was a teenager. I’d cut out some colorful pictures from different magazines and taped them on a part of my bookshelf. Some of them were travel-related, and some were just shots of beautiful people in beautiful places. Palm trees and turquoise swimming pools. Cool sunglasses and edgy eye makeup. Some of the pictures looked like utterly magical moments and they made my heart dream, inspired by what could be. They seemed so faraway – and they were.
There was one particular picture of a group of little boys playing on a beach and it always looked like Brazil to me, though I’ve never been there. The sunlight sparkled from the foamy waves behind them and the tanned boys were laughing while playing a ball game. For them, it was an ordinary day. Football on the beach. For me, it was someplace I wanted to be, a moment I wanted to obtain somehow, in some form. Get it for myself and keep it, always. Belong in it.
It felt familiar, yet it wasn’t a moment I’d lived yet, not exactly.
For a long time, if you’d asked me who my “true self” was, the very shiniest version of myself where I was who I always wanted to be, who I always saw myself as, I would say it was me in 2010.
2010 was a busy but happy year. One of the things that happened that year was that I realized my childhood dream of visiting Hawaii, and the islands didn’t disappoint. In my Hawaii photos, I see a happy version of myself, at ease with where her life was, content and fulfilled. Someone who was enjoying what she was doing. There was that sense of belonging (no football on the beach – but possibly a frisbee).
I instantly felt at home in Hawaii. It reminded me of my childhood home, Australia, in so many ways. Names of places in the indigenous language. Flip flops and tropical fruit. Casual surf wear brands and easygoing people who said hello when you passed by.
One evening in Oahu, I saw a man watering his garden plants in flip flops and shorts, ever so casually. He might’ve been humming a tune, thinking about work, or perhaps he was keeping tabs on a commercial break on TV before returning back inside. Whatever was going through his mind, he looked peaceful and that little scene brought me a feeling of how this is his everyday life.
Another day over there, I saw a young woman walk her dog in very short green shorts, looking casually cool, probably without even knowing it. She had a beachy look, and you know I love that kind of look. I dress casually but I’m still very selective, too. When I later saw similar shorts in a store, I just had to buy them for myself. I’d never worn anything that short, but I felt like they were mine. I’m sure you’ve known that feeling, too, when you’ve seen something in a store that’s yours.
Another happy year was 2002. I fell in love with Montpellier, in southern France, and I experienced an impossible amount of new things in a short period of time.
Which brings me to the question at hand: Who was I meant to be?
I was meant to be surfing, swimming, and enjoying the sun, somewhere warm with blue skies. Enjoying relaxed sunset dinners on my patio facing the sea, with a warm breeze in my salty, tangled hair, my sons’ happy shrieks in my ears as they run around the house and the beach.
In the mornings I’d do yoga outside and then go for a swim in the ocean. During the daytime, I’d run a business of my own – maybe a café not too far from my home, or maybe I’d be writing a book on my laptop. Stress wouldn’t be a part of my life or my demeanor.
We’d have a beautiful garden and I would have learned a bit of gardening by then. We’d also have a swimming pool for laps when the waves would be too rough at the beach – wait, let’s make it an infinity pool! I’d whip up a green smoothie for myself and spend most days outdoors, in my own backyard. My boys would have plenty of friends at school and some hobbies they were interested in. We’d be friendly with our neighbors and often have dinner parties outdoors at night.
It would be a land where people were nice to each other and no one went home after work to just watch TV because the beautiful outdoors would be too tempting to miss. People would be rollerblading, drinking extravagant milkshakes as tall as a Lego building with fresh berries on top, and watching films on picnic blankets at outdoors cinemas. There’d be street carnivals with lots of dancing and good food – regularly.
It’s safe to say I’m a daydreamer! And that’s okay. I think that must be a personality type. I may sound melancholic but really, I’m not. Let me explain…
When I was a teenager, with those images taped to my bookshelf, I had a list of goals (this was before anyone said bucket list, not one of my favorite words). My list went like this:
- Do a language course abroad: maybe Spanish
- Do a student exchange program, maybe South of France
- Do an internship abroad, maybe Paris
- Work abroad, somewhere Mediterranean
- Travel a lot, to places like the Maldives
- Settle down and have beautiful kids
And you know what? I’ve realized every single item on that list. What more could I ask for?
I just thought of something. Another point of view. What if the woman I see in my mind’s eye actually isn’t me?
What if it was someone down the line… a future daughter or granddaughter of one of my boys who are now just toddlers. A great-granddaughter. Maybe what I’m seeing is the life of someone carrying a tiny slice of my genes decades from now, even a hundred years from now.
Wouldn’t that be something?
Because that’s how daydreams go. The truest version of myself is a dreamer.
The photo is from Iguazú Falls, 2014