Living The Dream
I recently met a young woman who was from the US, and was just visiting Italy for the week. When she heard about my life, she commented that I was ‘living the dream,’ that I had, the husband, the child, the pets, the house in the country in Italy. She wanted that too, and she had ambitions to travel.
All these things are wonderful, but, travel and I have a strange relationship. Because I didn’t choose to be here, it just kind of happened.
Eighteen years ago I was living in Scotland. I had been going through a difficult time emotionally. I’d also just met my future husband. I didn’t like the dark winters, and constant rain, and I’d decided I didn’t want to be there anymore. One day I went to a meditation class and my brain kind of cracked open. I went back home crying and told my boyfriend that I didn’t want to live in Scotland anymore, that I wanted to move.
It was either go on an adventure, or go and live in England, and when my boyfriend got a job in Vietnam I was thinking that it would just be a year as an adventure and then we’d go back home, but 18 years later and it just hasn’t worked out that way. We never went home.
So when people tell me I’m living the dream because I’m in Italy, land of la dolce vita, it wasn’t my dream.
I’m not complaining, as I look out over the beautiful Tuscan hills on a sunny October day that’s 28 degrees. I love being out in the countryside with a family and a dog and cats, all the things that make life happy.
But nevertheless, I felt like issuing a warning, that sometimes your dreams are not really your dreams, but ideas that pop in from the culture, about what makes us happy. Dreams are like life-rafts to cling onto when you are drowning, because the real thing, the ultimate thing that would make you happy is absent from your life.
Blaise Pascal was a mathematician and writer who lived in the 1600’s. He said that we are all born with a God-shaped hole, an infinite abyss inside of ourselves that can only be filled with an infinite God.
In the new age we are told to collect feel-good experiences to raise our vibration, to do what we want to make ourselves happy (Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law said Satanist Aleister Crowley). But what if the things we choose aren’t the right things?
The Bible tells us that ‘the heart is deceitful above all things.’ Since learning about the way opening ourselves up in spiritual practises leads us to be misled by the devil’s deception, I often wonder about that moment in the meditation class. Was it my choice to move away? Was I projecting my own negative state of mind on my location? Was it the classic case of the grass is greener? Or was it some kind of divine prompting? And if it was a spiritual prompting, who was it doing the prompting? I had no relationship with God at the time, so was I being led astray?
At this point I don’t know the answer to that, but I do know that I live differently now. In a time when the popular culture is full of more and more messages about ‘living your best life,’ ‘follow your heart,’ and making dreams come true, we are experiencing unprecedented levels of depression, and mental health struggles.
Freedom, liberation and doing what you want actually doesn’t bring us happiness. But testing the spirits (1 John 4) and finding out what is of God and what isn’t is the key. He knows the best path for us to follow, and he has a perfect plan laid out for us if we only say, yes, I believe.
Kate’s Newsletter is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.