That’s what the doctor asked me–
“If you could, what would you do, no limitations?”
Framed like that, it’s much easier to envision possibility. If you could go for anything, change anything, achieve anything– without worrying about money, what people think, your own limitations, judgments, practicality…what would that be?
I was dating Dr. K at the time. I was thirty-years-old, taking my landscape design practice to the next level. And dreaming about writing. I was also managing his 8-acre horse property and putting into play all the ideals and practices I had learned to that point in my life. I didn’t worry about money; he was a doc. I didn’t worry about judgment; no one else knew what we were doing. And with eight acres adjacent to wildlands, there were essentially no limitations. And practicality was my driving value: I wanted to restore overgrazed pastures on the land. I wanted to erase the suburban practices implemented around the house. I wanted to remarry this acreage to the wildlands.
Dating the landowner, I could advocate and push for sustainability on every detail, without worrying about losing the client over arguments. And argue we did! As a (necessarily) linear thinking doctor from the humid Midwest, he had no bandwidth with for the complexity of arid land ecology, nature, biodiversity. That was my role.
So I challenged him right back: “Well, if I COULD, I would do this the RIGHT way instead of the easy way!” He threw a few coffee mugs across the lawn and swore a lot, but so did I and the science won. Ultimately, he would even name his acreage “Nine-Point Something”.
I was fortunate to have that experience of “No limitations”. In testing and developing my first ever “If I Could, What Would I?” I moved from mere ideals into implementation and proof. As a landscape designer obsessed with genuine sustainability (versus lip service), this was critical to my very identity, my sense of self and my very purpose here on the planet.
If we only ever even get to live that possibility once in our life, we are lucky. I think it transforms us at a core level…and bolsters our power to dream more.
Carbondale is a town of idealists, dreamers, visionaries, movers, and shakers. September stories will feature a handful of them. Please consider contributing your own.