Madeleine Walburger | Perchance to Dream

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No, you are not seeing double.  Madeleine Walburger submitted two posts.  Serendipitously, her pieces, when read together, epitomize the both/and to which I frequently refer: the importance of attending to loved ones AND to ourselves.  In Writing to Remember, Madeleine shares two lyrical vignettes about mothering and her children.  Here she shares with us her personal dreams.  As a pair, Madeleine's posts illustrate what I hope for all who come within eyeshot of dare to dream:  when we dream for ourselves and with our loved ones we are happy.  For more on Madeleine, click here.

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Hop-skip-and-a-jump.  For over half of my undergraduate experience, I spent countless hours, six days a week developing my abilities as a triple-jumper on the Stanford University Track and Field team.  Though not one of their finest, I was strong enough to be a member of the team and to compete.  I was a jumper.

As an incoming freshman, school was my top priority; however, I was eager to see what I could do with collegiate coaching and year-round training.  In high school, I had a fantastic coach but I could only devote about 3 months of each year to the sport.  I leapt at the chance to accelerate and hone both my intellectual and athletic abilities.

I started practice a week after school began and soon learned of a long-standing Stanford freshman triple jump record:  39′ 10″.  This mark was further than I had ever jumped, but I considered it within the realm of possibility.  I remember peddling home from practice, ice bags wrapped around my shins; running up the two flights of concrete stairs to my double-occupancy dorm room; and emblazoning the distance in pen and hi-liter on an index card.  I posted the card on the side of my portable closet module, facing my desk and my bed.  Here was a soaring dream to spur on my hours of running, jumping, lifting, and competing.

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Source:  istockphoto

Pre-season weight lifting and hill sprints stretched into indoor season traveling that quickly transitioned into sunny spring outdoor season.  I enjoyed the training, the competing, and the camaraderie, but with few personal successes between us, it was a long eight months for me and for my jumper teammates.  More than once I was tempted to pull down my index card before the season was complete, but I never did.

I'm not a natural dreamer.  I'm just not.  As I rolled this new “ah-hah!” self-understanding around in my head, a question formed:  “Why?” Why is it hard for me to dream?  I believe I found an answer.  Two of them.

I am an analytical decision-maker. I aim high and think big with one foot firmly grounded in faith and the other in reality. I consider the variables involved in my decision, seek providential guidance, and then I try and make the best choice, assume the best attitude, and/or map out the best course of action for myself and my family. Much to my chagrin, I seldom weight personal likes or interests as variables. I am grateful for my approach. It is not perfect, but it has produced many strong and happy results.

I don't like to fail.  When I identify a dream, there is a possibility I may not accomplish it. And because I don't like to fail, I sometimes hedge my bets. Before even starting the journey, I make a mental list of external factors that might contribute to my missing my goal. I stay in my “comfort zone” by aiming high only in those areas where I know I am strong or where I have a solid infrastructure of support.  Otherwise I don't even make an attempt.

I want to learn how to dream.  I want to listen to my instincts, and learn to consider what I love doing regardless of its practicality.  I want to learn to value the process and not simply the end.  This may not be the season to fully realize many of my aspirations, but I can play with the concept and dream dabble.

Three weeks ago I posted a card on
my wall to remind me of my new aspiration.  It reads, “Perchance to
dream – I dare you.”  I put it by my bedroom door where it fell to the
floor twice.  I moved it to my bathroom mirror where it fell onto the
counter, behind the toothbrushes.

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Source:  istockphoto

The metaphor does not escape me.  Like gravity's attack on my homemade sign, life's rapid pace, unexpected diversions, and my insecurities may doggedly attempt to thwart my efforts to see beyond the practical and immediate.  Nevertheless, I am determined to try.  I have identified a few personal interests in which I will dabble in 2010.  Here are two.

  • Write four unique pieces and share with my “inner circle”  of friends.
    (My two posts here certainly further my effort–and it appears my “inner circle” has instantly expanded!)
  • Identify 3-5 new teaching techniques to develop and apply in my educating responsibilities in my congregation and in my Summer Academy for my children.

My prompt is now duct-taped to the wall.

After my final meet of the outdoor season, I took down my highlighted triple-jumping goal.  I hadn't hit my goal.  In fact, I was at least a foot from reaching it.  After devoting so many coveted waking hours to its accomplishment, it stung to not meet such a publicly-posted goal.  It felt like failure, though in hindsight, I know it wasn't.  I had allowed myself to dream.

I kept my 39′ 10″ index card from my freshman year.  It's in a trunk in the garage.  I may post it again, next to my new prompt, “Perchance to Dream — I dare you.”


  • Are you a natural dreamer?  Why do you think that is?
  • If you are not a natural dreamer, what have you done to allow yourself to see beyond the practical horizon?
  • How do you overcome a fear of failure?
  • Has triumph ever bloomed from the ashes of failure?

 

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