This week’s “Dreaming Big” Dungeon Prompt is very timely for me, for two reasons. The night before the prompt came out, I read an article about daydreaming in the April 2014 issue of Psychology Today. In that article, Scott Barry Kaufman shared that more than 50 years ago Jerome L. Singer had differentiated between three types of daydreaming. 1) Daydreaming due to poor attention control, which causes distractibility and difficulty concentrating, 2) guilty-dysphoric daydreaming, which focuses on feelings of anxiety, guilt, fear of failure and obsessive, hostile and/or aggressive fantasies about others and 3) positive constructive daydreaming. This third type of daydreaming is associated with “openness to experience and reflecting a drive to explore ideas, imagination, feelings and sensations.” Positive constructive daydreaming enhances self-control and creativity, helps individuals in attaining their long term goals and allows them to develop a greater sense of identity and personal meaning.
While I do believe that it is important to have long term goals and also that envisioning the future is an important part of creating it, I focus much of my personal and professional life on living in the present, rather than being stuck in anger or sadness from the past or fear of the future. Reading the daydreaming article reminded me that both staying in the moment and daydreaming are important.
The other reason this prompt seems timely is because as I get older I need to make decisions about retirement. For me it primarily boils down to deciding whether I will continue to live in Seattle or move to India.
In 1990, when I went to India for the first time, I was clear; I had no doubt that once I arrived in India, I would not want to leave. But staying was not possible, at least not at that time. I was raising children in Seattle and wanted them to live near their dad. And my psychotherapy practice was in Seattle. I had no doubt that it was right for me to live in the U.S.
Since I knew it would be hard for me to leave India, though, I asked several friends to give me letters I could read just before I was to return to Seattle; letters reminding me why I should come home. As my return date approached, I opened and read the letters. One of them was from Jean Illsley Clarke. She said:
When it is time to come home, come home.
You have so many this-life years ahead!
You don’t have to do it all now.
When my poet friend Julia Stein was near death, she went down the long tunnel to the light. She stood at the bank of the river, enveloped in the light and the love. She said she was tired and wanted to cross, to be in the light always. The light-love said, “Go back. You are not finished. Your children need you. You have other things to do.” She went back, but she was changed, stronger, more centered, more peaceful.
You can choose to come home now.
Later there will be a time and a place for the rest of your dreams, for your other homes.
Her letter was very helpful, and I have thought of her words many times since then. Now that I am in my mid 60’s and am trying to decide what I want to do in the next stage of my life, I find I am not even close to making a decision.
When I was a child and a young adult, I felt like I didn’t belong anywhere. That is certainly no longer the case. I know through and through that I “belong” both in India and Seattle.
If I stay in Seattle, I will need to continue working. But I enjoy my work. I love participating in my clients’ healing journeys; journeys leading them from lives of depression, doubt and fear to lives that are rewarding and full. I love living in the house I have lived in since 1973. I love the comfort and safety that living in U.S. provides. I love my friends. I love Seattle.
On the other hand, both of my adult children live in Amma’s ashram in India, and so does Amma! I want to be with them. I also have good friends there. I am much more likely to feel joy there. But, at least in my experience, life’s lessons come much faster and are usually much more intense when I’m in India. It can be like a never ending emotional roller coaster. Also, activities of daily living take much more time and energy. It is not an easy life. Is this what I want?
This will not be a choice between right or wrong, good or bad. Both choices are right. Both choices are good. Luckily, I do not need to make a decision now. I can continue doing what I have been doing, which is to spend some time each year in both places. I can also use my imagination to explore both options. There is no need to force a long term decision. I believe I will “know” what to do when the time is right. I will know when I know.
I am curious to discover what my decision will be. At this time, I don’t have a clue!