Dreams and Reality: An Unconquerable Divide?
December 31, 2010 § 4 Comments
Anyone who has any pretensions at all to doing something unusual, creative and independent has probably had a conversation like this at some point in their lives:
You go to a pub/cafe/tea shop to meet a kind-hearted friend who cares about you. You sit down, tell each other how long it has been since you saw each other and you really should meet up more. You order a beer/coffee/pot of tea and get to the business of Catching Up.
Friend: So what are you doing with yourself these days?
You: Oh, I’ve been learning to write novels/write music/write poetry/design clothes/act/train cats to walk the tightrope.
Friend: Oh, that’s great, but I meant what are you doing for a job? Plans for the future?
You: … well I am planning to spend my working life writing novelsmusicpoetry/designing clothes/acting/running a crazy cat circus.
There’s an awkward pause while your friend endeavours to process this.
Friend: Don’t take this the wrong way, but… are you sure you could do that?
You: Why not?
Friend: Well, because it’s … hard.
You: I know.
Friend: I knew someone else once who tried writing/acting/singing/running a business/becoming the ringmaster in a crazy cat circus. She/he just couldn’t make it work.
You: Thanks for sharing that uplifting and encouraging perspective.
Friend: I’m sure it will be different for you though. Good luck, you know!
What your dear friend really means is: shouldn’t you be doing something safe, like, working in an office? Everyone knows that dreams never come true. It’s inevitable that this will never work out for you, and you’ll be left disappointed, broken and completely bereft of hope for the future. Are you sure you don’t want to do something safe instead?
You: I understand your point. It’s probably hopeless. I’m aware that I’ll probably never make it, and I appreciate your undeniably well-meaning concern. But no, I don’t want to spend my life as an office drone. Thanks for asking.
Friend: I really hope it works out for you.
…. So, what is this about? Why is it that one is viewed as, at best, mildly eccentric or, at worst, dangerously insane if one aims for a profession(s) that is unusual, creative, competitive, hard work and above all difficult to achieve, instead of settling for the safe, drab, dull options?
It is because, in the minds of many, that’s the stuff of dreams and you don’t mess about with that, baby. You leave it well alone. If you’re good to your dreams, you’ll still have that downy, cottony, warm and comforting niceness when you’re a tired, worn out ninety-year-old and you’ve spent your life travelling the safe routes. You don’t take that stuff out and wave it around. You definitely don’t try to cross the dangerous and perilous divide between comfy, safe reality and the completely unpredictable, absolutely unsafe dream world. That would make you crazy, right?
Okay, I am crazy. I accept this. The point of this post, however, is not to announce my raving insanity to the world but to challenge the accepted attitude. Why shouldn’t you reach for the moon? Is it the fear of failure? That’s crippling, I grant you. As a person who suffers a fairly major crisis of the confidence about once every week, I understand this entirely. But that is no reason not to try.
When it comes to the stuff of dreams, it’s important to develop skill, knowledge and wisdom in your chosen trade. It really helps if you can manage to have a bit of talent, too. But that’s only half of the story. The rest is about guts and grit: courage to get started in the first place, and the drive and endurance to keep going even when it’s hard. Because it will be hard. But if it’s your dream, it’s worth the pain.
The latter half of 2010 has been spent, by me, in Phase One of Dream Domination: learning and development. Preparation, set-up, planning. There’s more of that to be done – isn’t there always – but 2011 is the year to start putting it all into action and see where I end up.
I wish luck and courage to anyone else who’s crazy enough to try to catch the moon. We’re all insane together.
Author’s Note: Yes, I admit it: the real reason I wrote this post is because I have been spending too many hours awake and alone at 3am, when the world is dark and dead, listening to my brain telling me that I am hopeless and my dream life is doomed to failure. This has been a shared pep talk for the benefit of other individuals similarly afflicted with dreams that refuse to die, combined with raging self-doubt and a crippling fear of failure. We’re going to keep going through 2011 or die trying, alright?