Tuesday, January 24, 2012

dreamers and doers

On a recent evening Dave put on The Strombo Show from January 15th of this year.  George Stroumboulopoulos was talking with a long time friend of his, Bob Mackowycz Jr. about their career paths and how they were such doers that they needed to remind themselves to dream.  They spoke about this at length and with a rather wistful nostalgia for their driven youth in which they worked crazy hours to propel themselves towards their future goals.  They saw themselves as doers; working hard, for long hours and becoming so "good" at living the life that they had created that they needed to make time to dream or challenge if you will, their patterns and habits.  The downside of their doer lives being that they would neglect the more intuitive parts of themselves, too busy to listen to their soul's voices that may be whispering to them.

This struck a cord with me and as George commented that he needed to be more of a dreamer I quipped that I do not have that problem.  In fact for most of my life I had the opposite problem; I was too much of a dreamer and not enough of a doer.  I could say that growing up in a rural area contributed to my dreamer state.  I spent hours in my room as a teenager, listening to music, drawing and imagining scenarios for my life.  Being a dreamer added to my t.v. addiction since I was able to imagine more future possibilities just by the flick of a switch.  I could be this, I could do that, I could meet....you get the drift.  I often tried things and did lots with school and friends but I certainly didn't have a drive to pursue my dreams at all cost.  Instead I waited for some magical day when all these ideas would manifest themselves.  And if there is one thing that I've learned in my 34 years it's that things practically never fall into your lap gift-wrapped and shining.  Instead you have to go and get them, work hard, try, fail, try again.  Push, nag, stop, start again.  In short you have to do it.

Being a dreamer is not bad or good or better.  Likewise with being a doer.  They are just different and can really change the way your life progresses.  An example of this can be found in Marion Fowler's book The Embroidered Tent: Five Gentlewomen in Early Canada.  Fowler describes the difference between Catherine Parr Traill and Susanna Moodie, sisters who both immigrate to Canada from England and make a go of it in the wilderness.  Catherine being the doer learns the trades of a pioneer housewife and deals with her fears and misgivings by mastering all she can control in her surroundings.  Susanna on the other hand is a dreamer, a romantic who revels in the solitude of the wilderness but fails to become a doer in her early attempts.   She struggles with her desire to dream and the expectations placed on her by her circumstances.

That push and pull makes a dreamer struggle in such a doer world.  Dreaming big is important to our souls and has brought many of the greatest inventions and art into this world, but dreaming can also isolate and paralyze.  And if you are mostly a doer you often fail to connect to something internal and bigger than your immediate daily tasks.   Those little ideas that need time to blossom or need to be fed with beauty and time  can be stifled by to-do lists or an over-filled schedule.

How is the balance achieved?  I'm not sure.  The dreamer in me is still a huge part of who I am.  I wouldn't change that despite the things I could have achieved had I been more of a doer.  Being a mom is about constant doing but I struggle in many ways to be more of a doer.  To stop reading blogs, pinning on Pinterest, listening to podcasts and just do, be, live my life.  Be here now.  Dream big, but be here in this moment.  Make more food, make more art, read more books, play more games with the boys.... I better get to the doing.

Oh, and just because I felt it was improper to not include the quintessential dreamer in this post here is a video of my favorite Beatle singing Imagine live.
"...I'm not the only one..." 

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