"Imagine your life in ten years," he said among high school chitter chatter and cookie inhaling.
They paused briefly, interest peaked, as paper and markers were passed around the room.
"...Now draw it," he finished.
"Ten yeeeeears?!" they screeched. "By then, we'll be--(they glanced around uncertainly at those of us outside their age bracket)--OOOOOOLD!!!"
"Just draw what you see in your head when you dream about your future," he said matter-of-factly. "You have five minutes...go!"
And with that, they got to work--papers rustling, giggles abounding and several panicked questions of Is this okay? and Can I do...? and What if mine looks like this?
I stared at my own blank page and felt a quiet anxiety rising.
Stop being so ridiculous, I told myself. Just draw...something. It's not a big deal!
But somehow...it was.
I've been following this blog a lot lately.
Mainly because I really resonated with this book he wrote recently (you know, the one I incessantly reference).
To completely oversimplify, the premise of the book is: Live a Better Story.
You. Me. Your weird neighbor that loves wind chimes. The lady in the cafeteria who sells you your soda. The speaker of the House. The leader of Uzbekistan. All of us. We can live better stories.
And in doing so, in taking chances and forcing ourselves outside of our comfort zones and deciding to do something, we will be living a better collective Story.
Because instead of all being inside our homes on Wednesday nights watching prime time TV or updating our blogs or living in Second Life or dusting a shelf full of things we don't really even like, we can ...
Well, now that's the problem.
For me, the problem is not saying Yes, absolutely! Let's live BETTER!
The problem is in deciding what that means.
And more accurately, allowing myself to dream.
I don't know how it happened exactly, but somehow along the way, I lost my ability to Think Big.
Or Think Outside the Box.
Or even just Think of Anything That Isn't Right In Front of Me.
Because I am a rule follower. I thrive on meeting and exceeding expectations. I like to check things off my list.
Now, don't get me wrong, I don't think any of that is inherently bad or wrong or even that boring. It just depends on which rules, whose expectations and what is written on that Post It.
It's one thing to cheer Amen! and passively flip a page. It's quite another to put the book down and actively write a new chapter.
We shared our dreams that night, all scratched on a little piece of paper.
Some said, "I wanna be a recluse writer and live up in the mountains with my best friend! ...and maybe someday with a boy. MAYBE."
Some said, "I wanna be famous and rich. THE END."
Others said, "I want to be a mother. And a wife. And have kids. And do it well."
Some said, "I want to teach."
Some said, "I want to be a sports star."
One said, "I don't have any dreams."
And then it was my turn.
I looked at my paper with my stick figure scribbles and thought yeah, I think this is it.
But then I second guessed myself and as I drew a big black question mark I heard, "You're boring, you're so painfully normal and isn't that rather self-absorbed and you know you'll never ever in a MILLION YEARS be able to do that and it's embarrassing to even pretend like you want to. Puh-lease."
And that question mark has haunted me ever since.
Because it is good to ask "What If?"
And I can't fully answer if I'm focused on what others want to hear.
Or what what my best friend would say.
Or even what Donald Miller would say.
Because I have a voice. And I have dreams. And they may not seem awesome to you but they are valid.
And maybe if I can find an answer and you can find an answer then together, we can take the first leap and say them aloud.
And really engage them and say "Wow, that's cool" or "Hey, me too!" or "Awesome! You should do it!"
And, that, my friends, is called rising action.
Oh, the Story we could tell...