“What is your shameless vision?” So began the class I just started, where all 26 of us sat in a circle and bared our souls. Glare and share at its finest. Thankfully, I was toward the end of the pack, so I had some time to formulate my answer and listen to those of others. The question was framed quite specifically. It assumed the existence of a vision for ourselves. It also assumed that this vision was somehow obscured by shame, the malignant growth that cripples many of our dreams and much of our reality. Often, we don’t feel worthy of our dreams, and so we abandon them like toddlers bored with their toys. But we weren’t bored, just too afraid to hope, too scared to act, too defeated to go on. When that happens, our dreams, visions, and hearts’ desires get relegated to that most depressing of categories—the unobtainable. And everyone knows it’s worse than futile to pursue the unobtainable, because we won’t get it. No one wants that.
Well, no one except Graydon the gryphon in the latest installment of Thea Harrison’s Elder Races series, Shadow’s End. Apparently, he didn’t get the memo. So when he has an opportunity to go after the unobtainable, he does so with gusto. And defies the odds to get his HEA. Who would have thunk it? Well, me, of course, and probably you, too. But that’s okay; reality is stressful so I want my paranormal fiction to end with smiles, not tears.
Graydon is told that Beluviel is, for him, the definition of unobtainable because they come from radically different worlds—not quite Romeo and Juliet, but close. But he doesn’t care. As I read about his willing suspension of disbelief with respect to this fundamental truth, I envied him. For most of us, it’s viscerally difficult to put aside our inherent feelings of unworthiness long enough to even think about chasing our dreams. We don’t feel we deserve to achieve them, which acts like saltpeter on our deepest desires. Shame is a corrosive emotion. And every single one of us suffers from some form of it.
I recently heard shame described as an acronym for “Should Have Already Mastered Everything.” Good one. Because while it’s ridiculous, we persist in our belief that if we’ve not mastered something, or everything, we are unworthy. How sad. For all of us. But this false sense of failure conditions us to think that our visions are unobtainable, the idealistic ramblings of immature psyches. Eventually, we decided to put away these childish notions and assume the mantle of adulthood, with its weighty responsibilities and never-ending hamster wheels. We commit to paying our dues, doing our time, and hope to live long enough to enjoy society-sanctioned sloth, aka the golden years of retirement. Yikes. How shameful is that vision?
We deride the dreamers and the visionaries. But those dreamers who persevere in their reverie and tack a little action onto their visions are among the most creative, productive and happy individuals in the world. The problem is not that these special people tried to obtain the unobtainable; the problem occurs for the rest of us when we stop just shy of getting where we want to go. Unobtainable is just another word for hasn’t happened yet.
Unless we listen to the asshole in our ears. You know, the one who keeps telling us, “You can’t have that. You’re not smart, strong, skilled, lucky, talented…whatever enough…for that.” We tend to listen to that asshole. His greatest tool is the shame that lives in our cells, the shame that was created when we traded our dreams for a specious sense of connection to ‘the real world’. When we denied our authentic selves, the ones with the shameless visions for our most radiant futures, we nurtured that shame, and thus the vicious cycle began and was perpetuated.
So what, you may ask, was my shameless vision? My vision—without the shame or self-doubt that usually attends it—is to unleash my passionate creativity and become the writer I yearn to be. I want to create characters with whom I want to spend my time, and stories that engage my wild imagination, in worlds whose rules I determined. In my fiction writing, I finally get to be queen and be the puppet master I’ve always wanted to be, creating worlds in my image of how things should be according to my values and philosophy. That is my shameless vision.
Sure I can name my shameless vision but I’m not sure I’m ready to pursue it just yet. I need to silence my inner critic. I need to strengthen my inner guide and remember that the Universe doesn’t plant deep desires that are not attainable; with the desire comes the ability to achieve it. God wouldn’t be so cruel. I think. I hope.
In the interim, I’ll continue to read about Graydon and Bel, and watch them both obtain the unobtainable. While I continue to coax my shameless vision to shadow’s end where the sunlight of the spirit shines on all of us. Thankfully, the book – and my class – have just begun to teach me their lessons.