Written by: Berenice Meintjes
Being a psychologist, I tend to ask a few inappropriate personal questions to people I meet. One of my favourite questions is this: “If money were no object, what would you do with your life?”
As to their response, it may surprise you to discover that people never talk of things that they want to buy. They talk about things that they would love to do – most commonly wanting to take time off work to travel, to take a decent sabbatical from the everyday routines and stresses of life to do something that they have always wanted to do. Very often this involves fantasies about travelling through Africa to unspoilt natural areas, with the aim of reconnecting with nature in its simplicity and wonder.
Mark Nepo proposes that, “The soul’s only interest is to be as alive as possible. The aliveness of our soul is our career.” Imagine always doing that which makes your soul most alive.
And yet inside yourself you may have a loud: But. ‘But money is an object. But I have responsibilities.’
David Whyte explains that then what happens is that we are always waiting for the right time to do the things we would love to do. We are waiting until the kids are older, waiting until we have paid off the bond on the house, waiting until we retire … waiting until we are dead. He argues that the conditions for change are never going to be perfect and that the time for living a more spacious life is always in the present.
And don’t let children be your excuse. Thich Nhat Hahn proposes that one of our greatest responsibilities towards our children is for parents to be happy, stating that, “If we have happy parents, we have received the richest inheritance of all.”
“Take the first step,” says David Whyte. “And start with what you have now,” Ezemvelo‘s Ncami MaDlamini advised me. “Don’t wait until you have everything you need to make your full dream come true – the big picture can overwhelm and paralyse one into inaction. Start something small alongside your current life situation.”
For me I had fun one lazy Saturday morning drawing up a ‘Bucket List’. Then as I was looking at my list, I suddenly realised that I needed to do approximately one thing a year if I was going to fit it all into this short life. I shrugged and thought: “Best I get going then.” I resolved that updating the house can wait until I am much older and don’t feel like travelling any more, and I started with the smallest, easiest travel dream and have been working my way through my evolving list ever since.
If money were no object, what would you do with your life? And are your dreams so terribly unrealistic, or is there one small step or one scary little conversation that you might be able to make right now towards realising these dreams? Nature poet Mary Oliver spurs us on, asking: “What is it you will do with your one wild and precious life?”
Share your dream – let us know what you would love to do if money was no object.
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