I turned 25 yesterday and for the first time I feel that I am getting old. I had a scary moment when I thought, “oh no! I can’t start this now! Am I going to feel like this for the rest of my life!” Somehow at 25, every decision feels more risky as if it’s toying with uncertain time and resources. I want my decisions to feel more guaranteed in their outcome, but my life is still young and I am figuring out where to walk, and how best to get there.
Plans are changing. Big plans. Plans that for the past two years have played a role in where I have pointed my life and what side of the world I have lived on. Have you ever had a vision that pulled you forward, and gave you your sense of where you were going, suddenly end a few feet in front of you? Sometimes these visions change because we have grown to see differently. Sometimes they are changed by things outside of ourselves. But when change means that plans end, so much that is big and meaningful is unfulfilled.
For some time now, I have been chasing a train track until it has run out of rails and steel and I have become disillusioned to find it doesn’t go anywhere. The plan no longer continues, and so it seems that it was never valid. How does one not become stunned and disappointed? I look forward and I ask, “what was the purpose?” But then I look at where I am today, and I see that these plans, these rails that have ends, have brought me here. So much of what my life has come to look like, where I am and what I have to build from, would not exist if I hadn’t chased that dream. It gave me the security and the vision I needed. We need these–these evolving plans–to keep us moving into our future. We move forward through vision, and the visions I have had have helped me to carve out this world. God knows this. He knew I needed those big plans and all their meaning to bring me here and give me the security to make the decisions I have made. What if this track I have been walking on was to serve that end, to bring me forwards? Here I can see new plans and form new visions that perhaps I would not have embraced further back on the road.
On day two of being 25, I am scared of changing plans. I am scared of train tracks that end, and casting vision without guarantees. I want to make plans promise me that if I chase them, they’ll work out. But what if it’s not supposed to look like that? These unfilled plans of mine dare me to consider that perhaps they have met their purpose. Even as plans morph, change, or dead end, they fulfill a place of meaning in that they bring me forward.
There is something about stories that speak so much of the way life really is – the way we ought to see it. Fairy tales have a way of whispering things so intrinsic to our nature – things we were designed for but have become distrustful towards. Something of these tales feels so familiar to us, as if perhaps we lived in a story like that once upon a time.
We seem to have a complete inability to recognise the stories that we ourselves live in. Our dreams are filled with fantasy and romance – things that perhaps other people discover at some point on their journey – but the lives beneath our own feet seem caught between ordinary and disappointing. We have come to distrust that the themes of fantasy find their heart in the real world.
We have experienced cruel realities, and each of them has come with a whisper that erodes the banks of hope in our heart. When did we begin to let tragedy define us? When did we stop believing that the things we dream are mirrors of His dreams towards us? The instincts of our heart, the very DNA of a world where light shines and there is no darkness, has given way to a common view of a lesser life. When did we come to deny so much and expect so little? What caused us to kill our deepest wells of life, to distrust our dreams, and go off striving on our own to earn something we couldn’t find? When did we forget the symphonies of grace?
Perhaps life really is all we ever dreamed of. Can we really believe that the life we live is without the goodness of the One who created it? If all the things we dream about life are not supposed to be so, then why do we have the capacity to dream them? It cannot be that we create greater stories in our minds that that which our Creator crafted for us. The essence of this life was designed to mirror the tales of His heart.
But we have forgotten our fairy tales. We have failed to notice the themes running through our days. Do we even hear the soundtrack that accompanies us anymore? Each life creates melodies like none ever has before. Turn the page and the orchestra soars. Walk down a new road and you find yourself in the midst of a piano solo. Seasons close to soft sounds that linger before resolving to that one note you crave to hear.
We must believe in things that do not seem to fit within the box of reason that disappointment has built for us. Because if we could draw back the curtains of how we have seen today, we would catch a glimpse of a forgotten fairy tale from which all great stories have been scripted. We would at once know that there is something of fantasy that is so much more real, more alive. That the pictures we paint in our imaginations are really faint memories of what was always meant to be. We would discover that dreams really do come true. We would step through the veil and with misty eyes realise that we were standing in the midst of every story we ever wished was true.