Bucket lists, New Year resolutions, and dream places to escape to are all over our feeds. The lists can be easy to make and continuously accumulate as we scroll through and "like" the ideas into countless categories. The collecting of inspiration sends a thrill of excitement within our heart, but I’ve also realized something else, something vital and active in this living treasure hunt. It's the little moments, the day-to-day decisions beyond the collecting and hoarding, when the time arises to birth them into our reality. Some moments are discrete and even quite lost in the busyness we call routine, and others are visible and attractively sprawled out in the splendid openness of a “day off”. These ordinary moments happen all of the time, and they are chances and decisions that, if not overlooked, have the power to change our life.
Such a moment happened one morning after leaving my husband at work. I drove in the direction of some favorite cafés, leaving the decision-making for when I got near, yet knowing perfectly where I wished to go. It’s a common place of avoidance for me, one that I literally drive circles around as I juggle between my desires and should’s, and in which I then lose my sense of self somewhere along the way. It sounds so simple and perhaps even silly, yet I believe my words won’t merely express the depth and cruel confusion these familiar thoughts can bring to our heart.
Poverty is a mindset that surpasses all cultural or economical circumstances. After having grown up with such limitations in a first world country, and then moving to a third world country to marry my best friend, I realized a sad phenomenon that is more enslaving than any material or governmental limitation: our mind. Living out of a mindset of poverty inhibits and enslaves and limits all possibilities. It represents how we see ourselves and what we believe we are worth. Our inability to choose good casts a shadow of frustration, turning our once lovely dreams into objects of bitterness, and too often, blinds us from being able to even dream at all. The honey loses its sweetness and the milk becomes sour. And perhaps the most frustrating part is that our own ways keep us from being able to grasp such dreams.
The roots are deep and the feelings so real, yet life’s simple treats, whether free or paid, are meant to bless our hearts and awaken dreams. It happens when such a moment, opportune or not, and the choice to birth it into our schedule lies in your hands. It’s this choice, lying between the resisting or the spending, that is able to bring life.
So there I was, subconsciously choosing to keep unwanted whispers of doubt and self-denial on my shoulder, and allowing them to direct my course that had absolutely no direction at all. I imagined and compared the possibilities to the point where not one mattered anymore. Then I caught a painful, raw glimpse of the what I was thinking, and I made the rebellious decision to put myself on the scene and to make my voice heard, if even to myself. And I did so by turning the car around once again, parking, and walking right into the café I had desired all along. Until I decided to not look back and to allow those thoughts of doubt to be left unthought, there remained the need to think. The pull and necessity to repeat a habit is strong, but self love is stronger. Most of the time a decision just needs to be made. We cannot always finish a thought because it might just finish with us instead.
Freedom. It's in the decision to turn the steering wheel towards that favorite café, and in breaking the figure-eight cycle of doubt-driven thoughts. It’s going through the expensive toll so that you can make it to the grocery store in time to buy the yummy, organic cereal for your breakfast the next morning. It's in the decision to stay home and relax and to let the to-do list and coffee dates wait just a bit longer. These choices and pleasures are packed into moments, and they're ours to have and enjoy. Yes, blue skies and flowers and fresh coffee; they don’t have to determine our happiness, but even so, they bring us happiness.
See, writing down that list is the just merely the thrilling beginning. The real magic happens when we consciously choose to make each item happen. Even with decisions that seem so little, we’re always on the borderline of freedom, and with each rebellious yes, we cross over into the promised land of dreams. That’s how I made it here, watching orders of lattes and croissants go by to the sound of French music off of a cobblestone street in Brazil. I chose to abandon the what-ifs and to just look ahead. Maybe a better decision could have been made and a couple less Brazilian dollars could have been spent, but I’m not wrong. My decision left the darkness to the dusk of the morning and now I’m awake and ready for this new day which starts again now; with my espresso and smoked salmon spread.