New and univited in Moscow
People keep asking me how and why I started writing.
Fifteen years ago, I went to Moscow from a Siberian city called Irkutsk. Grey, unfriendly Moscow met me with a cold and piercing wind that threw a handful of snow right in my face. It was a city of dirty snowdrifts, giant billboards, and flashing neon casino and nightclub signs.Impressive luxury cars crawled through the traffic. Beautiful women in expensive fur coats and high heels darted out of them, followed by macho and serious men; a city of people who don’t like to smile. Gorgeous marble subway stations were jam-packed with busy crowds. It seemed all 12 million people had a destination except for me.
Old white churches with golden domes glittered in rare glimpses of winter sun. The historic Kremlin in the city center contrasted with districts of thousands of the same type of boring, concrete buildings. I felt so tiny in this gigantic, inhospitable, aloof, cold, gloomy, and soulless city. How would I, who had never lived in a big metropolis before, be able to find a job, friends and myself? I did not know a single person. I felt uninvited, a restless outsider. How should I get started in a new life? I was stunned, overwhelmed and lost.
The second day after my arrival, I went to the largest bookstore in Russia, The House of Books. When I entered, I felt I was in my own world, where I was protected, safe and welcome. Finally, I felt happy and relieved. I was surrounded by the beloved books that I was raised with. On the covers, I saw familiar faces of the authors I remembered from my early childhood.
From a shelf I took a book of my favorite author, Chekhov, who opened for me the world of ordinary, “small” people with their thoughts, feelings, and dreams.
I smiled, when I read the obsessively and dreamily repeated phrase, “To Moscow! To Moscow!” from his play The Three Sisters. This phrase was from the melancholy sisters, who were stuck in the mire of provincial life, but did not have the will to get out. I got out. I was here in Moscow and did not even know what my dream was. Mentally, I was far from creating a dream. I was in survival mode.
An inspiring dream
I closed my eyes and inhaled slowly the acrid smell of freshly printed pages. When suddenly …
I saw a book on the shelf with my name. This vision was so clear, vivid, tangible and exciting that it took my breath away. I didn’t want to open my eyes. I carefully re-read my name again and again.
Yes, this was my name on the cover of the book. My amazement had no boundaries because I had never in my life written anything except mandatory school essays. I never thought that I had the ability or talent to write. But a bright vision of my book selling in a huge and popular bookstore was so extraordinary, inspiring and exceptional that it changed me for ever. I had a dream to accomplish.
I solemnly promised myself that one day my book would be on the shelf of this store. I had no idea how I would write a book, what it was going to be about, and who would publish it, but I knew with certainty that it would eventually happen. I would make it happen. No matter what.
In the next years I opened my own company, worked 12 hours every day, toured the entirety of Russia with my workshops and … I started writing. First articles, then a book. All these years, when I closed my eyes before I went to sleep, I saw my book was proudly standing on a shelf in this bookstore.
After five long years and hundreds of hours of writing, I found myself in The House of Books in Moscow looking at my book. It was exactly like my vision.
The power of visualization
Back then I had no idea that I had used “visualization”, one of the most powerful and effective techniques to accomplish dreams and achieve goals. For me, visualization was a new way of expanding my capacity for creativity. It was like a mental rehearsal. I created a vivid picture of a book as if it were already printed. I didn’t hope I would achieve it, instead I lived and felt it, as if it was happening to me right now.
It’s a fascinating fact that our subconscious mind cannot distinguish between what is real and what is imagined. All new and revolutionary advances first begin with a mental image. Initially, the iPhone was just an image in Steve Jobs’s imaginary world. Do you have a dream that seems impossible to achieve? A new painting, a book, a life-changing trip around the world? A different career, nicer house, a fancier car or bike? Someone to love? A new you — slim, positive and energetic? What do you really want to accomplish, experience or possess?
When you wake up and are still lying in bed, close your eyes and picture your dream. Make a vivid mental picture with as many details as you can.
Imagine your new house. Are you with your children and husband there? What are they doing? Laughing and waving at you while playing in the yard? What kind of house is it? How many rooms?
If your dream is to travel to new countries, where do you see yourself in your mind’s eye? In the Louvre museum trying to solve the mystery of Mona Lisa’s smile, or sitting on the boulevard sipping coffee and people watching? Is it a sunny summer day? Are you wearing a lovely printed dress and sandals? Are you alone or with your friends? How does it feel? Encouraging and empowering? Are you happy and excited?
You only need to spend a few minutes thinking about it. But it should become your habit. Visualize yourself succeeding. Invite positive and powerful energy into your life.
When I returned to The House of Books, I had changed. Years had passed. I was no longer the frightened young woman from Siberia. It was summer, and golden rays of afternoon light brought the covers of the books to life. I saw the new releases on a stand near the entrance. A smiling, confident professional looked back at me from one of them. I felt a moment of awe, and I knew in that instant, “dreams can come true”.