For many, many years I have had a dream. It is a dream that formed as soon as I was old enough to both appreciate a good story and write meaningful sentences. The home-made mini storybooks, consisting of multiple folded over pieces of A4 white paper, stapled together and filled with the contents of my childhood imagination, are testimony to that dream. Then until my mid teens, the dream was something I felt would inevitably materialise into reality once I was a grown-up. The multiple stories that have been salvaged from our first nineties desktop computer and still exist on my current computer, alongside newer, more viable tales are testimony to that feeling of surity.
However, the viable stories are all unfinished. At several points in my adolescent life, the pitfalls of my dreaming were pointed out with harsh clarity. The phrase ‘starving artist’ did not exist without reason, so why didn’t I pursue a safer path? The safer path was not only secure but allowed me to do good in this world, by using my intelligence and natural empathy with others. I could continue stringing together words to bring my imagination to life in my spare time, and if the now-termed ‘hobby’ happened to result in success, I could always then switch careers.
The safer path, though not my childhood dream, has not been without its own rewards. However, in treading it, my dream has been pushed further and further back, behind responsibilities and hoops. The hoops one must leap through to ensure progression in most ‘stable’ careers, and generally, in a socially acceptable lifestyle. Sitting at the computer to pursue a hobby that once gave so much pleasure, now feels like a waste of time – the odds of success are so low, that the simple fun of creating something has been forgotten. And it isn’t always easy, after an exhausting, hoop-filled day, to trawl one’s own imagination. The whole process seems effortful, a means to no end – so why bother?
I had what some might term ‘an epiphany’ last week. Two things happened.
A friend with that same childhood dream, who is not yet as jaded as me, spoke with enthusiasm of how he intended to pursue it and try to make a living from it. I found myself pointing out all the reasons why he should be cautious and doing little to encourage him. I am not normally that harsh with friends and felt disarmed by my own behaviour. A few days later, I realised I was only being that way because I had given up on my own dream. I was apalled, not least because that wasn’t what I should have been doing as a friend, but because I hadn’t realised this before – that I had given up on my dream.
The second thing that happened was not quite as much of a lightbulb moment because actually, to be more accurate, it has been happening for a while. The profession I belong to has, for a while now, been changing. It is no longer as respected as it once was, and the rewards are not quite as ‘worth it’ as they once were. It is a difficult profession by nature, but is steadily growing much too difficult – evidenced by the fact that even those who came to it, unlike me, because it was their dream, are thinking of leaving. Suddenly, it doesn’t seem so stable a profession anymore, despite everything its members (myself included) are doing to save it.
And so, I find myself dredging up a forgotten, decades-old, dusty dream and sweeping away the cobwebs that have grown around it. I find myself doing this, to my surprise, without fear – the fear of failure that was playing a heavy part in the dust-gathering. Today, I am looking at the dream directly – wiser, bolder, more cynical and yet feeling more ready than I think I have ever been.
And to that friend – you know who you are – I apologise. You have the talent, and the drive, and I wish you much of that final, essential ingredient – luck.
This is straight from the heart, guys. No italics = not fictional. Not much editing either – a free write, if you will.
I know there are many others like me out there – and I wish you all the best.
Thanks for stopping by 🙂