Do you ever experience the euphoria that comes from lolling around deep in the middle of a daydream? Where buoyed by images of clouds and an endless blue sky you come to believe the daydream you have found yourself in? We all have a secret dream that we refer back to when times are tough or we’re feeling blue. Some of our secret dreams include living by the sea, finding true love, the career success we’ve always dreamed of, finally having the type of body that turns heads wherever we go.
Some secret dreams can have their foundations in reality, but most lapse very easily into fantasy.
Coming back to earth can be difficult. I had a friend years ago who was convinced she was going to win the lottery. Every week. She dreamed of what she would do with the money incessantly. She would ring me the day before the draw and tell me what she would buy for me when she won. Needless to say, she never won a thing. At first she used to laugh it off but I noticed an edge of bitterness creeping in the longer she held onto the fantasy. Winning the lottery was a dream that became an obsession. She became angry about the actual winners, wondering why they deserved it more than her. It was only when I sat down with her and talked about the laws of probability and explained that her chances of winning were something like 25,897,456 to 1 that she began to snap out of it.
Around that time my other friend, Jules, and I coined the phrase It’ll Never Happen. Occasionally, we have rather grand ideas about the directions our lives will take. We get all excited and gung ho about them, dreaming away like crazy teenagers. We have both been known to make decisions based on impulse rather than grounded in practicality, often to our detriment.
So we came up with the It’ll Never Happen way of thinking.
At first you might think that It’ll Never Happen is a very cynical, self-defeating way of thinking. But it is quite situation specific. We tend to apply it to things that we know in our hearts are not going to occur. To things we have attempted to work through or work with which just can’t reach a point of resolution. It may sound pessimistic, but it actually keeps us optimistic. And it keeps us moving forward.
A few years back we wanted to buy an old art deco cinema in our area that was up for sale. Initial investigations revealed it would sell for around 1.5 million dollars. We had five people involved and actually managed to raise the money, dreaming wildly of French film festivals and of singlehandedly reviving the independent film industry in Sydney. Half way through the whole thing the owner decided the cinema was worth much more than he had originally thought and put it on the market for nearly three million. He pulled the rug from under us. At first we were disappointed. We could have tied ourselves up in knots, frantically trying to get our hands on more money, getting in more investors until the whole thing was a seething, writhing, chaotic mess. The It’ll Never Happen philosophy stopped us from doing that. It made us accept that it was time to walk away, that owning a cinema wasn’t meant to be.
Today I wish the It’ll never Happen phrase had never been coined.
Jules is moving to England. It is a good thing. She and her husband have wonderful jobs over there and have even been able to buy a lovely house – something they could not afford to do in Sydney. The logistics of the move have been going on for the past year. Some of you may remember that Jules has a rather fraught relationship with her mother. Her mother is very wealthy and does not approve of Jules’ life choices. Every year Jules sends her mother Christmas presents from her kids and every year they are returned unopened. It is heartbreaking to watch.
This is a conversation I had with Jules about six months ago.
JULES: I ‘ve written to Mum. I’ve told her we’re moving.
ME: I don’t know why you bothered. You know you won’t hear back from her.
JULES: I just want her to know. I feel it’s the right thing to do. She’s getting older and I don’t want her to feel she’s all alone in the world.
ME: What do you expect her to say?
JULES: I want her to say ‘Don’t go, I need you here with me. I want to mend our relationship.’
ME: Would you stay if she asked you to?
The first thing I thought of after I had that conversation with Jules was It’ll Never Happen. I know she thought it too. I know she has probably thought it every day since then. I could rip my own tongue out for saying it in the first place because I don’t want Jules to lose hope when it comes to her mother even though part of me thinks it would be best if she did. I am tied up in knots about this. I want to say it. I need to say it. It’s like the proverbial pillar of salt is standing behind me and I can’t help but turn around and look at it. But it’ll never happen. I will never say those words to my dearest friend. I hate to see her hurt by her mother over and over again but I also cannot stand to see her give up hope.
So I’ll change my catchphrase to Maybe for the moment. Maybe her mother will have a change of heart after all. Maybe she will tell her daughter how much she means to her before she moves to the other side of the world. Maybe she will beg her to stay.
It could happen.