Thursday, September 27, 2007


Daring to Dream
By Patty Wysong

I was too afraid to dream. If I dreamed I risked failure and that possibility froze me in my tracks.

“What do you want to do, Hon? What are your dreams?” My husband, Jim, asked me, pen and paper in hand ready to add my dreams to his so we could start working toward them.
“Umm. I don't know. I'm content right where I am.” I was puzzled by my lack of dreams and Jim was frustrated.

“C'mon, there's got to be something you want to do!”

“No, not really,” I replied, embarrassed because I couldn't come up with a single thing—well, something other than my closely guarded and locked away secret. In my mind that one dream was unattainable, and I didn't dare dream of anything else. One unattainable dream per lifetime was one too many. It ate away at my confidence, as well as my enthusiasm for life, and I didn't have enough left of either one to waste any on another dream.

“What'cha got written down?” I asked, hoping he had something I could adopt as my own.

“Skydiving.” Jim said with a smile. My dear, darling man knows me well.

“Ah, not me.”

“I know. These are my dreams, remember?” He was smiling at me, letting me know my attempt didn't work. He shot me another one. “Cross Siberia on the Trans-Siberian Railroad.”

Ugh. I hate snow. I hate cold. So much for tagging along on that dream.

“Scuba diving.” Jim quirked a questioning eyebrow at me.

Tempting. If it's warm enough to scuba dive it should be warm enough for palm trees, and I absolutely adore palm trees. Only one snag: I hate swimming. Hmmm. Could I pull it off enough to convince him?

“That one sounds interesting.” I tried to put the right voice inflection in there.

“Right. You'd rather sit under the palm trees reading than dive.”

Rats. Didn't work—but maybe it could.

I hedged, “You can't dive all day, can you?”

Jim studied me, speculatively. “No, you can't.”
I thought of the under-water pictures I'd seen and tried to remember why I didn't like swimming.
Would the scenery out-weigh my dislike for putting my face in the water? Would wearing a mask, fins, and having an air supply take away my fear? Without stopping to think too much more I plunged in.

“Let's do it.”

Jim's eyes widened in surprise, but only briefly. He circled scuba diving and I gulped. What on earth had I just gotten myself into?

Six months later I lay on the bottom of a swimming pool with an air tank buckled on my back, a regulator in my mouth, and a mask snuggly covering my eyes and nose. I looked around and would've smiled if I could've. Jim's dream turned into a dream of my own. 'I can do this!' echoed inside my head, and with that thought the seed of my dream began to sprout.

Four weeks after that first time in the pool I went on my open water dive for my certification.

While we geared up, we watched the catfish surface and beg for treats like pets.

“They're huge, but they're so tame!” My dive buddy was fascinated by them; I was intimidated. Would I be able to step off the platform and swim with those beasts?

When my turn came I turned my back to the water, not sure if I was running away or getting in place for a back-roll entry.

“That's the easiest way,” my instructor called to me. “Just sit down and let yourself roll back.”

I automatically put my left hand on my weight belt and the heel of my right hand went to the regulator in my mouth, with my fingertips resting on my mask, holding them all in place, just as I'd practiced so many times in the pool. Before I could start panicking, or maybe because I was panicking, my knees bent and I sank into a squat. My air tank pulled me back and I gently rolled into the water. I barely went under but I was euphoric. I was in the water with those huge catfish and I was fine.

We only went down 10 feet that first time, but the blue gills were there in force. We quickly learned that shiny things like wedding rings and earrings attract their attention and they would try to nip the sparkly tidbits. As I batted those blue gill away and kept my eyes peeled for the giant, but gentle, catfish my sprouted dream grew. It grew enough that I could no longer ignore it.

Learning to scuba dive boosted my confidence. It broadened my horizons. It made me realize that just maybe I could attain at least a part of my own buried dream. My enthusiasm for life and living bloomed into a beautiful thing that I didn't want to ignore it anymore. I wanted to chase after it and I determined there, while batting the blue gills, that I would find a way to pursue that one dream I had been too afraid to even utter. I would pick up my pen and begin to write.

“Lord,” I prayed in the silence of the water, “I've run away from writing for years and it's made me miserable. I want to start living. I want to do something with my life, not just go through it holding on to Jim's coat-tails and following his dreams--although this one is wonderful. If I can learn to scuba dive, and enjoy it this much, then I can learn to write. Whatever You choose to do with that writing is up to You. I'm willing to learn all I can, and to practice, so that if You ever choose to use my writing it will be there for You. If You don't use it, that's ok, too. I only know You've put this dream inside me, and You haven't let me run away from it. It's Yours to do with as You wish.”

My heart was finally free. Just as I felt safe and comfortable in the water with my mask and air tank, I felt safe and comfortable dreaming about writing--with God as my safety factor. By giving Him my dream I was free from the fear of failure. It no longer mattered if I succeeded or failed, as long as I did my best. My dream was simply to write. It was up to God how He used it.

Back up top I reached for my journal instead of the novels I had been burying myself in, in an attempt to hide from my dream. My pen flew over the page, capturing my thoughts and resolve, as well as the wonder of diving.

As I wrote, I prayed and planned. For the first time in years I felt fully alive, excited. I hadn't realized how hopeless I had become by locking my dream of writing in a closet, and I decided to never again give up like I had.

I got my scuba diving certification that day, but more importantly, I picked up my pen. Failure, as some people might see it, isn't an issue for me any more. Doing my best, learning and growing and being available to be used by God are the important things to me. The seeming failures along the way are simply stepping stones to my future. Even if God doesn't use my pen, this time of writing in my life will be used for some purpose. I am confident of that.

From the dream of writing has sprouted other dreams. Dreams that I'm free to dream and to pursue. Dreams that have added a richness to my life that I once pretended didn't matter to me.

Do I want to cross Siberia? Not really, but I'd love to take the Euro-Rail through Europe and see the Alps. We're planning on diving some coral reefs, maybe even yet this year and I'm excited about that. Someday I hope to dive the Great Barrier Reef. This spring I rode a big roller coaster as well as a huge ferris wheel and I survived them by conquering my fear--that same fear that had me locked up and frozen in place for so many years. If I can do that, than maybe I can even sky dive—because I want to.

Submitted by
Patty Wysong

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