Dust is a microscopic collection of fine decayed matter that has lost its purpose.
Aged particles of hair and skin, fibres from textiles and pollen from plants, microscopic pollutants and deposits from far-away lands. Dust is the stuff that is surplus to requirements, that collects mournfully in forgotten corners to reminisce.
Dust was something useful once. Until it became dust.
Now let’s try to imagine something.
Let’s say that each particle of dust is a missed opportunity, a road not taken, or a forgotten dream. What if, to borrow from Robert Frost’s poem, the dust settling on your laptop or phone right now is the combination of your “roads not taken?”
Might that make you think twice the next time you meet two roads that diverge?
Although it is hard to imagine us standing still and gathering dust as we go about our busy lives, it is striking to consider how the dust of forgotten dreams might gradually envelop us if are not open to exploring change. Some opportunities will naturally pass us by, but we only live once, so why not act on our impulses and take a peek at the possibilities.
I’d like to share a couple of ways in which I escape the “dust” of my forgotten dreams….
One way to keep life vibrant and live in the present is to make new memories as often as possible. I am a dad of two great kids, and I try my best to give them a vibrant and stimulating childhood (whilst at the same time enriching my life). The dust weighs less heavily if you are out there experiencing something fun and new every day.
Another method is to expand your inner world. For me, reading and writing nourishes my soul and often gives my life a nudge in the most unexpected directions. I re-read Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” recently, and as well as serving as inspiration for this blog (although the dust there has a very different purpose), the empathy that you experience when you live through the eyes of a character sometimes offers an entirely different perspective on your life decisions.
Lastly, and most obviously, a great way of escaping dust is the act of dusting. Just as you wipe the dust from your household surfaces, I believe that it is possible (and necessary) to move on from past disappointments by doing some self-cleansing. Whether you are religious or not, wiping yourself down with the cloth of forgiveness is the best way to start with a clean(ish) slate. Some of the dust may well settle again, but it will be enough to tackle the challenges of the day with an optimistic vigour.
Or you could just let the dust overwhelm you.
Lots of people let that happen. They don’t think that they have a choice.