I’m reading a book titled Live What You Love by Bob and Melinda Blanchard. It sat on a friend’s coffee table, I picked it up with interest and have enjoyed reading it thus far. I like topics like this…dreams. People who pursue them. Stories of how they achieve them. What I like about this book, is the heavy dose of Reality peppered throughout their “notes from an unusual life” (subtitle).
I keep thinking, however, of an alternate title. Not for this book. For a different book. Maybe one I’m supposed to write one day. Instead of Live What You Love…the phrase, Love What You Live keeps popping up. I don’t think of these as polar opposites. But somewhere in there, between the stuff of dreams and reality lies a subtle shift in focus that has helped me for many years. And still helps me today.
I would say, fairly confidently, that I’m a dreamer. My mind has always preoccupied itself with dreams and daydreams, the small ones and tall ones. As a little girl, I dreamed via my dolls and their house, much of which was handmade. I dreamed of driving a VW bug one day and so made them a cardboard version. In college and early marriage years I drove a 1968ish red VW bug. Today, I still want to drive a VW bug, lime green or robin’s egg blue would be fun. Red again, would also be lovely. This is not a materialistic dream. (I recognize the oh-so-typicalness of the late 40’s woman wanting to drive a bug! Oi!) There’s something bigger caught up in that Lime Green Bug. The girl who drives it is artsy and fun, if a bit eccentric. She goes on picnics and drives it around the French countryside. She pulls her art materials out of it to draw in a field. She knits up beautiful things to wear and to give away. She writes stories and illustrates them. She has tea in the afternoon with whomever will join her. This same girl drives her VW bug up to a small cottage where she lives with her family and has a few chickens and goats. Maybe she even has a sheep or 2 or 3, whose wool she spins and dyes to later knit up into fun stuff. Her cottage is painted cheery colors and it’s always just a smidge disheveled looking. There are old things here and there, furniture with stories, and handcrafted items everywhere. Her art, as well as her kid’s art, is on the walls.
Her VW bug is perfect for getting around the small, quaint town in which she lives. Everywhere she looks, she sees thing to draw and paint, colors to knit or crochet. And when she can’t see something beautiful, she draws it anyway, and in-so-doing she finds the beauty she wasn’t able to see before.
It was all there in that dollhouse I spent hours and hours making years ago. Dolls I had made, with clothes for them to wear, knitted blankets on their beds, pillows I had sewn. I didn’t actually set out to make my life that of the doll house. It’s a bit uncanny how my life now resembles this childhood dreamworld I and my friend Linda created. So much of it is my life now, with heavy doses of reality thrown in here and there.
There are some dreams still “out there”. I still want a VW bug. I’m still waiting to travel to France. I do not have any chickens or goats or sheep. Our HOA would kick us out of our suburban neighborhood.
There have been times, however, between the doll house and now, when I have pined for a life other than the one I was living. When I was 32 and began to draw and paint, I started to see that the life I was living was the one I loved. Through creating drawings and paintings of the flowers in my yard, of my children growing up– playing on playgrounds, licking a lollipop– I could see the sparkling beauty of the life I was living.
It was also around this time that I began to knit in earnest: a vest for Catherine, a hat for William, mittens and gloves for Maddie, sweaters for myself and Randy, gifts for friends. Seeing a life take shape in yarn and in a sketchbook, allowed me to see and love the little life I was living.
I didn’t need a VW bug or a trip to France to make my life beautiful or worth living. That beauty was there all along. I just needed a lens through which to see it and celebrate it.
Of course, I would still love to travel to France. Yes, it is still good for me to dream about that and make plans toward it. But to pine for what one does not have and can not have at the moment is a way of living I no longer want. I want to enjoy where I am right now, who I’m with, and what I’m doing at the moment. Drawing and knitting are two ways that allow and foster this love for the life I have.
I will still dream. Dreams are delicious. But I want to spend my days living out the dreams that are happening right under my feet. I want to savor the life I have, drink it to the dregs, leaving few stones unturned.
And if my feet get to step into a VW bug once again, or if they carry me to France, or out back to feed some chickens one day, fine! Wonderful! Magnifique! But if not, life will have been no less lovely, because I have learned to love what I live.
**I’d love to hear what ways you have found to Love What You Live.