Last night I had an incredibly depressing sex dream about Bradley Cooper.
Yes, apparently that IS possible. I’ll let that sink in for a second.
We were on the set of a movie in Vancouver, though it remains a mystery why I was there. Bradley Cooper and Keri Russell played star-crossed lovers in a politically charged 1960’s drama. They couldn’t be together in the movie because they worked for opposing campaigns. They couldn’t be together in real life because she is married. He was in love with her. It was written all over his face and in his puppy dog eyes. The crew members looked pityingly at him, at BRADLEY COOPER (!), in love with a girl who would never return his love, on screen or off.
So instead he settled for me. He invited me into his trailer, made halfhearted efforts with wine that was too spicy and candles that made me sneeze. He went feebly through the motions, almost maintaining eye contact, almost convincing me that it was really me he wanted. I accepted this. I didn’t ask more of him. I didn’t show him who I really was.
I was the stand-in for the woman he really loved, and I knew it. Who knows why I stayed, in this dream of mine. Sometimes it’s just easier that way. Sometimes it’s easier to settle for what we’re offered than to fight for what we deserve. Sometimes it’s easier to ignore that little voice that whispers, “You are more than this”, to pretend we don’t really hear it, to imagine that it must have been speaking to someone else.
I can’t go back and ask my dream-self why I stayed. What I know is that I shouldn’t have. What I know is that it’s terrible to not stay true to yourself and what you know you really want.
What I know is that it’s pretty awful to be a stand-in in your own sex dream.
I went to dinner earlier this week with some of my favorite clients, including a few I have known for over ten years, since the very beginning of my career. One of my faves was celebrating her 55th birthday that day, and we were lucky enough to share it with her. She radiates light, and glows with energy. You just feel better when she’s near. We spent much of the evening catching up and telling stories about the “good old days”, when she turned the conversation more serious with one question for the rest of us: “Who and what do you want to be when you are 55?”
I sat there silently, watching everyone else’s faces as they thought about who they wanted to be at 55. I could see it was not easy to articulate. For some maybe this future was too far beyond what they had yet considered. For others maybe they found themselves confronted with a present that was not what they wanted it to be. I tried to listen to their answers, but my mind was racing, wondering how I would be able to share just what I wanted for myself, the way I hadn’t been able to do in my Bradley Cooper dream.
What if all of my dreams are ridiculous? What if they thought so too? What if what I want is just too much? What if they thought I was crazy for even thinking they were possible? What if they really weren’t possible?!?
What would happen if I just…put them out there?
We never made it all the way around the table for me to share that night, and a part of me was rather relieved. But the other part actually wanted to see what would happen if I admitted, to myself and to my friends, who I wanted to be at 55. Who I want to be now.
It’s safer to keep your dreams inside, hidden from the world, secrets stashed away in your heart. If no one knows about them, they won’t know if you fail at them. They won’t see rejections and steps backwards and knockdowns and heartbreaks. Of course, they also won’t be able to offer condolences, support and love along the way either. They won’t realize how much it means when you start to pursue and then achieve them.
And I’m now realizing that the likelihood of any of them actually coming to fruition while they’re squirreled away somewhere, unseen to the world, is probably pretty slim. This is where you have to take the chance to make the magic happen. This is where you have faith that your friends and your family and the Universe will listen without judgment. This is where you trust.
So here goes. Who I want to be at 55:
I want to be in love.
I want to be a world traveler.
I want to be an accomplished novelist.
I want to be a mother.
I want to be comfortable in my body.
I want to be singing.
I want to be someone’s first choice.
I want to be happy.
And there it is. It’s out there.
What happens when you admit what you really want? What happens when you refuse to be someone’s backup plan? What happens when you say, “this, what I am now, is not enough for me?” What happens when you open yourself up, take the leap, and accept what comes?
I guess I will find out.
Oh and just one more to add: in my next sex dream, I want to be in the leading role. Preferably with Bradley Cooper as my enamored co-star.
“Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country.” ― Anaïs Nin
“Hold fast to dreams,
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird,
That cannot fly.”
― Langston Hughes