The life I HAVE lived is a lot like the first half of this berry-picking episode. More on my future life below.
At first glance, berry-picking seems simple – buy plastic yellow buckets, drive a few miles, grab the fruit, fun in the sun. So the great day arrives, and your Special Person shows up for a great gab in the car and a Starbucks run. Adventure! Excitement! Finally getting out of the city and doing something REAL, akin to the pioneers of old or the Mayflower crossers. It’s a perfect day and there’s no scurvy in sight, so it’s like having all the best of the pioneer experience without that annoying possibility of death.
Humming a little tune, you traipse along the creek toward berry bushes, expecting hordes of fruit to leap into your bucket until you hit the Garrulous Hiking Native. “Yeah, I found a lot of berries,” he says, shifting from one leather-booted foot to another, “but those are at least 2 miles away”. Thanks to Mr. Negativity, a small voice at the back of your skull asks if this ‘berry episode’ is just a pipe dream. After 30 minutes of peering and scuffling around after those selfish berries, hiding under the leaves, you get the hang of avoiding the thorns and over the guilt of vine destruction. Crashing and sweating and swearing, your bucket is 1/4th full and you’ve nearly tipped it over twice.
NOW there’s a problem. RATTLESNAKE! The Special Person who you love and adored 2 hours ago lets out a yell that scares all the remaining berries off the vine and runs down the hill. You soothe the S.P. as best you can, but they haven’t died and you don’t see why they’ve wasted 30 minutes shaking like a leaf. Realizing your callousness, you apologize. All is well until you both try to cross the stream and it takes the S.P. twice as long. It’s just WATER, you think, really annoyed now. If I PUSHED you in, would that release you from fear?! You sternly tell off your horned worst half and help your S.P. out of the stream.
The second half of the Great Berry Adventure is more like the life I want to live! After stowing the litter of sandwiches in our cooler and our sleepy selves under a tree for a nap, we found the Mother lode of all berry patches and had more than enough to fill all our containers to the brim. We drove home, rejoicing in our spoils of war and more in love than ever.
This year, I quit my day job and am using all of my past five years of temporary failure and setbacks to push me on toward success in advertising and distribution. If I succeed in THAT, the income stream and time off will help me accomplish The Dream – writing and publishing fiction in a 5-bedroom house for 6 months out of every year on the Isle of Skye (north of Scotland); fiction has given me such joy that I'd like to help others rediscover the joy of life and struggle through my work. The house will be used as a retreat home for friends during the remaining 6 months, a peaceful haven away from technology and schedules. The library will be filled with ancient cracked leather books, and the titles will gleam in gold letters as a reflection of the fire on the flagstone hearth. Deep leather chairs will stand on the Irish rugs, coffee will bubble in the corner and an oak liquor cabinet will quietly grace the corner farthest from the fire. Of course there will be a false bookcase door that will lead to a capacious cellar and underground storage area, with a small tunnel that leads to the greenhouse. You never know when the dragoons will be after you, and it’s best to have an escape plan. Beside the greenhouse will be the horses’ stable, complete with barn cat and its tiny prey. A flagstone path will lead you back to the fresh-bread scented kitchen, with a large round scrubbed wooden table in the middle and white flimsy curtains whipping in the breeze. As you scrub the dishes, you’ll see the sea turning from blue to black, and the hills will turn from green to black and back, with white gulls tossing and screaming at the dark sky.
I hope that this seminar will help me crystallize this vision by being in an atmosphere of beauty, learning from someone who is in the process of living his own vision, and helping lead others to light their own vision flame. (To sign up for the conference on September 26 & 27, go to http://donmilleris.com/conference/)