It really bothers me when I see some friends and acquaintances around me frustrated and sad over how their lives have ended up. Sometimes in a down moment they'll reveal a bit of what they hide from the world. They let it slip that they had dreams once but somehow they never saw them fulfilled. And then they just get silent again and stare off into the distance for a while...
You are unique.
You are the only one that will ever be exactly like you. There will be countless people, who have lived throughout the ages and living now in the world, that could be gathered beside you and who would undoubtedly look so very similar to you, some so almost identically so, that you’d be shocked by it. Some would even talk with the same tone of voice as you and may even have the same inflections in their speech. They might even share common interests and seem to share common traits. But rest assured, they aren’t you and no one can ever be exactly you.
None of the billions upon billions of people on the Earth now, or since man has been on this planet, has your particular mix of talents, knowledge, experience or potential. These are unique to you. They are a gift to you from the Earth.
All of this usually isn’t too much of a stretch for most people to get their heads around. Almost all people are inherently egocentric in the sense most have a strong perception of their own selves, a personal belief of their importance in the scheme of things and almost everyone has a strong sense of survival when it comes to their own mortality.
But human nature and these human tendencies aside, what makes us particularly distinct from each other are our dreams and hopes.
We all have particular dreams.
Hopes for ourselves.
Most of the time these are kept secret from the world, only known to each of us inside our souls. Sadly, most of us don’t pursue these dreams even though they remain strong inside of us all through our lives and poke away at our consciousness in times of quiet, meditation or introspection. You may shove them aside as you grow older and dismiss them as childlike whimsical passion or unreachable things that simply aren’t realistic or attainable in light of how your life has progressed or culminated.
But you’d be wrong; you’d be denying yourself life’s biggest reward --- the striving towards and possible fulfillment of your dreams.
Dreams that we have, tend to pop up during times of lucid thinking. When, for example, we’ve reached a breaking point in a terrible day of pressure at work and we may inevitably see ourselves drowning in a vortex of turmoil in our minds eye. Suddenly our dreams and wishes stream into our thoughts and make us wish we could throw all the crap away, leave it behind and strive for them alone. Or in the middle of the night, when we can’t sleep for some reason and we lay awake, staring at the ceiling, our dreams and hopes begin to pop up in vivid clarity and for a moment anything seems possible…
but only a moment…
Usually by morning they’ve recessed back to their regular storage place in the back of our minds.
The very presence of a dream threatens us so very much. To take action and seize it would mean to leave behind what we feel as secure or comfortable or safe. Pursuing a dream would mean too much chance of failure. It might mean leaving a job that we find at least provides us with a means of a living though not much happiness, it might mean less security, less TV, less time to shop for stuff, or exposing ourselves to the world in a vulnerable state. Dreams usually scare us so much that we quickly file them away again, to that place in our souls where they remain, to only be pulled out from time to time and viewed at with melancholy.
But the fact is, our dreams can all be at least, scratched at. We can touch them and pay some real attention to them. We’ve simply forgotten how. We are so ingrained into a certain way of thinking in the society we live within; we don’t even remember that we once had no problem dabbling in our dreams when we were children. Before the time we worried about our next paycheck or how the taxes on the house were to be paid or the price of gas, we all shared a common life of believing the world was all ours and almost anything was possible. The teacher would give us each a box of crayons and each of us would create some sort of masterpiece on a sheet of paper to take home and proudly display on the fridge or wall of our home. We were all artists that day! Good, better or best, we were all capable of some sort of creation and no one believed they couldn’t. Everyone tapped into a different, deeper part of themselves for awhile.
Everyone is creative!
But we’ve lost our connection to our creative instincts, our creative roots. Everyone has some way of expressing themselves creatively within the spectrum of their own talents but surprisingly most people believe, as they get older, that creativity is only the realm of artists, musicians and actors. They all believe they simply don’t have that facility in their own beings and therefore have resigned themselves to lives of mere repetition or routine. They've forgotten.
How does this evolve? Why does this happen?
Well society seems to slowly turn our belief in ourselves as creative, expressive individuals to something otherwise. It isn’t uncommon for an attitude to pervade out there that if you are creative or artistic or dabble in those sorts of areas you are eccentric, flighty, and flakey or off the beaten path. This in turn causes people showing their creative side to feel exposed and alone and one by one they drop or bury their creative tendencies, deny them or cut them away altogether in order not to be thought of as odd.
People then convince themselves to believe in other things to fill the void left by ignored creative instinct. They may make it up by making their lives ‘meaningful’ by working hard for a living, in fields that rarely tap their potential or interests, and acquiring money, things and stuff. The jobs they have might not exactly be what they would want to be remembered as when they are gone but the money they get for the sacrifice of the time from their lives justifies the shortfall to them. They pump energy into supporting children or spouses and feel this makes their lives meaningful and significant to them. And time marches on.
But they’re only fooling themselves, at least for a while. Eventually, in the end they will feel confused and bewildered that they aren’t truly as happy as they think they should be for some reason. It may just come upon them one day, out of the blue, and they won’t be able to explain why, to themselves or anyone else. They’ll just suddenly be restless and unhappy. Try to think how devastating it would be to come to the end of your life and realize you’ve missed your chance to at least touch a part of one of your dreams! To realize you kept putting it off or kept thinking it was impossible anyway and you ignored it. Try to imagine how sad this would feel when it was suddenly so apparent that soon the lights are going to go out and you will be no more, your potential unrealized.
The root of this unhappiness is basic disbelief in your self and the stifling of your dreams. You have been your own worst enemy in being resistant to your own unconscious desires. You’ve created all the fears and misconceptions yourself and simply fabricated every single excuse there is between you and your dreams. You can blame it on life or on society or on how we must live in order to survive but in the end, these are just empty excuses. They aren’t really the reason.
The key out of this hole and to tapping into, at the very least, a piece of your dreams, is creativity. Creativity; we all have it and it’s different for each of us. It’s the tool you use to draw your potential out and work towards realizing your dreams.
The first obstacle for some is to recognize that you even have a dream. Some people have pushed them down so very far that they don’t even remember they’re there anymore. Dreams so shriveled up and small they may as well not exist at all. On the other hand, your dreams might be grand. You may know you have them and they might be huge. Either way, dreams exist in all of us. They are as individual and unique to each of us as our fingerprints.
You might have always wanted to write a Broadway play or a bestselling novel. Or wanted to be an Olympic champion or Prime Minister of Canada. Maybe you dream about owning an amazing garden or orchard or sailing around the world in a sailboat.
Sadly, for most of us that’s usually where our dreams begin and end.
We've all done the 'When I grow up I wanna be a -------' thing.
But face it, too many of us soon let go of these early visions and dreams..
Very few of us are high-minded enough to wake in the middle of the night with the next cure for cancer or scientific breakthrough. And we certainly don’t seem to have the magical success in business that those ‘superstars’ of industry seem to have.
So we become basically… well… basic.
Just another brick in the wall.
We start to believe we have it 'good enough' for what we are.
We 'deserve' what we have and not much more.
We eventually fall into droll acceptance of our existence stripped of its hopes.
But if this was how it should be for us why does Nature instill this thing in all of us that constantly niggles and naggles and pokes at our deep thoughts, making us wish we could strive for and fulfill something that has been with us for most of our lives? They're buried in each of us and they continue to pick and pick, reminding us that they’re stillllllll theeerrrrreeee --- we have dreams and visions unfulfilled in there. Your unconscious mind always knows if you're working towards things that mean a lot to you or if you've just stalled out. Our underestimation of ourselves is only self-inflicted. It isn’t how it has to be or how it should be.
But we’ll fight it anyway. We’ll convince ourselves first, for example, that nobody will patronize our new restaurant, or no one wants to know about our new idea, or nobody will come to see our production or no one will ever give us a break anyhow. We convince ourselves to become defeated before we even begin to try anything. Believe it or not, every single person with a dream has had these very same thoughts, these same doubts. It’s just that some choose to ignore counterproductive inclinations and most choose not to.
You know what part of the problem is? People all need to be believed in at some point. I believe we are all naturally shy and are disappointed by rejection. We all tend to believe that what we have to say won’t matter to anyone else so it might be best to just keep it to ourselves to begin with. Conformity becomes more comfortable. Looking like everyone else, acting like everyone else, and doing like everyone else becomes a way of life for most everyone because it’s safer, less effort required. After all it’s much easier to travel a well beaten down path than break a fresh, virgin trail through the brush.
But to be truly accepted for what we really are, even if that means some of us become slightly eccentric or unconventional when compared to the norm, is indeed a surprising event for anyone. To be unconditionally accepted even though we went against the current and dared to be different by chasing our own vision, feels odd and rare to us. For example, Sally Field, in her now famous Oscar acceptance speech when she said “You like me, you really like me?!”, showed how incredulous she was, even at that stage in her life, that she was being accepted by the masses. After years and years, it felt strange and surprising when it finally really sunk in for her that large groups of people appreciated and enjoyed watching the results of her personal journeys into her own creative world.
I once read a book of Canadian letters written over the past couple hundred years. One that caught my attention was written by Lucy Maude Montgomery, who wrote ‘Anne of Green Gables’. She wrote to a friend in the spring, following the fall and winter she had written her novel, expressing her disbelief and joy that a publisher had found her words entertaining enough to publish them. She wasn’t expecting great success for her book or even great riches but was only overjoyed that someone out there had believed in her enough to accept her work. It surprised and thrilled her.
To lay your talents and creative abilities out there in a chance they could be rejected or ignored is naturally scary to all of us. But to be accepted and gain approval is surprisingly pleasant!
So the point is you aren’t unique in doubting yourself or feeling unsure of the importance of your vision. Everyone goes through the same thing. The secret is in figuring out how to persevere and strive to reach something that is, at the very least, important to you. If it’s important to you, that’s enough reason to embrace and pursue it.
So why do I stress this creative thing?
Well, I believe the creative force takes every person to a place beyond normal daily feeling and experience. When you ascend into your creative zone you suddenly experience time differently. You see colors more vividly and precisely, you hear music more clearly and exactly, you move more fluidly with your environment and your thoughts flow with greater ease and power. You might make mistakes during your creative endeavors but sometimes they aren’t mistakes at all. You may be pleasantly surprised to find that your ‘accident’ actually produces a result that you didn’t anticipate and couldn’t have planned that enhances or compliments your piece of work in greater ways than if it hadn’t occurred. I sometimes think of accidents as planned unconscious events.
I also believe, as I said earlier, that everyone is creative. I think mostly everyone is capable of getting into a creative zone of some sort, one especially suited to them, and thus can slide into this frame of mind that allows thinking to transcend day-to-day levels. The more creative you become and the more time you focus on it, the better you get at controlling this state of mind and the easier it becomes to steer the journey of your thoughts in this heightened state of existence. I believe your mind is actually stronger than normal in this state and you have a greater chance of accomplishing your dreams, no matter what they are.
So how do we start?
How do we begin the journey to recognize our dreams?
How do we seek out and rediscover what some of us aren’t sure is really there?
This is a tough question and I had to think about it for a while.
I think a good thing to do initially is just to go out to a store and buy a big, fat notebook or notepad and a nice pen you enjoy writing with. Leave them sitting around your house, close at hand. When you have some thoughts come to mind, jot them down. Don’t worry about grammar, composition, spelling or even if the sentences make sense from each other. Just write what you feel you need to, as it flows from your mind.
Bits and pieces. Thoughts. Ideas. Dreams. Hopes. Frustrations. Anything. Just write it all down.
If notebooks don’t do it for you, try a tape recorder or little video camera. Record your thoughts and opinions that way if you want. But get them out. That’s the main thing.
You have to let your mind ‘speak out’ like it may not have been able to for so long. 'Talk' to your invisible audience that won’t judge or condemn or condone or not. It will simply listen. It will absorb what you have to say, about anything you have to say. It doesn’t have to be a journal or diary of your life. It can be just any particular thought you have on your mind at the time. The point here it to express it in any way you want.
You can write it all out in words or you can draw a picture of how it feels to you. A scribbling of lines showing how the thoughts or feelings ‘feel’ inside of your head at that time. Let your body and mind decide how it wants the pen to flow.
Don’t tear up or throw anything away. If a page bothers you, rip it out but don’t discard it. Put it into a shoe box or something like that. Save it. Put it aside.
For now, that’s all you have to do.
You still go to work each day. You still watch your TV at night. You still cut the grass and make the supper and wash the clothes. Nothing’s changed except that you must set aside a few minutes a day or more to just pick up the pen and the notebook and jot down anything that comes to mind. To start the entire process, this is all you have to do.
You have to start on the first step to climb a staircase. When most people don’t even know where to begin or even worse yet, don’t even realize they should begin, jotting down the activity of your mind, I believe, is a good place to start.
After all, how can you know what’s in there if you’ve never stopped to listen to it?!
What you’ll find, after quite a while, is that you have a large collection of writings that seem to be mostly a jumble of not so inspired (and some inspired!) notes. Begin to read through them once in a while. Not only read the words but try to look beyond them into why you wrote them. Make notes on your notes if you feel compelled to. Sometimes there are hidden meanings behind sentences that you didn’t even realize were there at the time you wrote them. If you conscientiously continue this entire exercise for quite a while, you’ll hopefully begin to understand your thought patterns and probably start to recognize what your unconscious mind is trying to tell you to do in order to be happy. It’s just a natural occurrence because of the way the writing is done. No pressure, no intended pattern, no intended audience, no real purpose other than venting what’s on your mind at the time. You’ve opened a fissure to your visions and are allowing them to leak out.
You'll begin to know and understand yourself in ways you may have been previously unaware of.
Sometimes you might find you have nothing to write. You stare down at a blank sheet of paper, pen in hand, and nothing at all comes to you. These are what I call the ‘creative devils’. They will always see your creative impulse coming long before you do and will always arrive first on scene to do what they can to stop you. It’s their job. They’ll make you think things like ‘I haven’t anything special to write about’, ‘Nothing I have to write matters anyway’, ‘I can’t think of anything’, ‘I don’t have time for this’, ‘This is stupid anyway’, and on and on. They’re extremely good at their job but their weakness is that they don’t have a lot of staying power. If you can just hang in there a little longer than them, you’ll find they give up and go away and suddenly you have an idea.
Suppose you can’t think of anything in particular you want to write at that time. Be unconventional, creative. Try writing your name. Write it out in full. Then write it again. Then write it again but this time make a little flourish on the first letters of your first and last name. Make them fancy. Then do it again but this time make those first letters crazy and wild with little snakes and bird’s nest in them and have them growing out of the ground. Or make the rest of the letters in block letters and shade them in different ways with lines, or dots, or light gray pencil strokes. Sign your name with a ‘Sir’ or ‘Dr.’ or ‘Lady’ or ‘Countess’. Write out a quick pardon for a prisoner and sign it as regent of the country and set him free from certain death. Let your mind wander.
You can do whatever you want with your scribbling. As long as you release your mind for a while, even a few minutes, from the bindings of normal life and let it float out in your imagination for a bit. The important thing is to allow your mind to wander into some sort of creative zone for a while and just roam around there for a while.
Of course you realize that this basic technique doesn’t have to be strictly held to writing. If music is your thing and writing isn’t, this whole exercise can be translated into exploring your creative zone in the realm of your instrument. Maybe a guitar or keyboard or recorder or even singing in your shower in the mornings. Try to write a tune. If it seems a totally crazy stretch for you to try something like that, make it easy for yourself. This is, after all, simply a little adventure between you and yourself so there aren’t any rules. Take a tune that you already know from the radio or CD collection you have and just throw away the words and make up your own for it. Use the same melody but instead the words will be yours. You can make it as complex or simple as you want.
Or if you’re an artist and like to paint or stamp or scrapbook or whatever. Do the thing that will allow you to explore your creative side and try to make it a regular visit. Also try to expand and push the limits of your talents. Try new things, new techniques, new styles. Test different waters.
But most importantly, when you’ve completed something, no matter what it is, get it out in front of you and examine it. Study it. Look at what you’ve done. Contemplate and remember the process of creating it. Remember the feelings and ideas you had as it came to life. You gave it birth so enjoy it for a while. Appreciate the thought process that went into developing it. There is a sense of great satisfaction that can come from having done something just as there is while doing it.
Allow me to write a little about inspiration now.
Inspiration is the thing that drives creativity. Without inspiration, creativity doesn’t have much power. For example, a musician falling in love with a beautiful girl might be inspired to write a song of love. Or a photographer impressed by the enormity of suffering in a war-torn country might be inspired to capture the moments of despair and grief in spectacular photographs. Inspiration is the grease and fuel of creativity.
I think one of the problems with our modern society is that is has become harder and harder to be inspired because we are bombarded with too many sensations, constantly. Technology is able to provide us with too much choice and too much information to properly contemplate for any length of time so subsequently we seem to choose to contemplate nothing as a result. We are flushed with images and sounds on television in such rapid and quick sequence that our mind only perceives a general summary of the total event and rarely the specifics. We become tuned out to much of what is around us because there is so much of it, we need to be selective or we’d go insane trying to register it all. And the circle only grows tighter. To grab our attention, people need to produce ever more outstanding, radical or bizarre events or images to have us notice. Things that were considered wild and crazy to be seen or shown or carried out 10 years ago, today aren’t any more than regular. And our minds fight back by selectively blocking out more and more in order to keep room for only the relevant things.
You can see how this gradually hurts our powers of observation and desensitizes us to our environment. Soon a blossoming flower doesn’t seem too spectacular anymore. A blazing sunset is ho-hum. The Rockies? Been there, done that. A nice walk by the river isn’t something as exciting as a Grand Prix race. A girl has to be thin and half naked to be considered attractive and a space shuttle launch doesn’t even get on page 47 of the paper.
Pretty soon inspiration is a thing that becomes hard to come by for most people because nothing is ever that spectacular to them anymore. Very little makes an impression. And certainly, when they compare their own drab, mundane lives with what they believe and think the wild, exciting world ‘out there’ is about, they figure they haven’t anything going on to drive their creative juices. I can understand exactly how it all comes about in the end.
So where can a person find inspiration?
Do you simply sit around and wait until it shows up?
I don’t think so.
Try to remember a time when something fantastic happened to you. Think of a point in your life when a very exciting event happened and for a while you were totally happy and enjoying the moment while it lasted. Maybe you won something? Maybe an award at school or a trophy at a curling tournament or a medal in track and field? Maybe it was a promotion at work or the birth of a son or daughter? Whatever it was, close your eyes and try to remember the wonderful feeling of exhilaration you had at that time.
Doesn’t it feel like it happened to someone else?
Doesn’t it seem hard to make the direct connection to the actual feelings you had at that time back then with ‘you’, right now?
That’s because actual feelings like that can’t be remembered. Our minds can’t hold that kind of information from the past, they aren’t wired that way. Of course you can certainly remember that you were very happy, excited and proud at that time but you can’t exactly recreate those feelings in yourself right now. It works the other way around also. Just as you can’t feel the emotional level of sadness you may have had during a past event, you can certainly remember that you indeed felt very sad at that time. This is, in a way, a protection device Nature has given us so we don’t constantly live in pain or despair after a crushing event. Unfortunately it works across the board with all the other emotions as well.
This is why inspiration is fleeting. You often hear that a person ‘was inspired’ but they ‘lost it’ because they let the moment pass. Inspiration creates a feeling inside of us of wonder and awesomeness. Our emotions are sparked and sometimes we are compelled to express some sort of outpouring of our creativity in an effort to pay homage to the thing that inspired and moved us. But like all emotions, if not acted upon at the time, later on they can only be remembered as something we felt and can’t actually be recreated in most cases.
So to be inspired you need to put yourself into situations or environments that will move your spirit and make strong impressions on you! Simply remembering things or places or trying to visualize something that impresses you isn’t as powerful as immersing yourself right among inspiring things!
So now you can see where I’m going with this. You need to remember places or events that inspired you and aroused feelings of creativity in you. Then you need to get pieces of those things near you. Or pictures of them. Or ideally, access them directly, regularly. If the ocean inspires you but you live on the prairie, you can paint a room in your home ocean blue perhaps. You can get a tape of ocean waves crashing on the shore and play it on a stereo in that room. You can place sea shells and star fish you’ve collected on a trip to the ocean or bought from a store. You can get paintings or photographs of the ocean seashore or a sailing ship crashing through the waves. You can get a fish-tank or visit a lake or river close to you. Or read Moby Dick. All these things might spark feelings of power between your creative juices and the inspiration you get from the ocean.
A long time ago I lived just a block off the Whyte Avenue area in Edmonton. This area was a source of inspiration for me by just being the environment it is. At the time it wasn’t as commercialized as it has become and was still relatively un-congested most days. I enjoyed going into musky smelling, little shops that had springy, creaky wooden floors. I enjoyed looking over merchandise that you couldn’t find anywhere else in the city. I liked stopping and listening to whatever street musician had his or her instrument out that week and was playing tunes for donations. The whole experience of walking through the district would greatly affect my mood and inclinations and set my mind into what I felt was a freer feeling state of being. I’d feel inspired.
Maybe the life of some entrepreneur or artist or hero inspires you. Get a poster or picture of them that you can look at from time to time. Get some write ups about them that you can read. Maybe you can visit them and hear their story first hand? It’s all pretty endless in how inspiration works for each of us.
Once it flows into you, you should try to put it to use. It is the grease that lubes up the creativity inside you. Your creation doesn’t necessarily have to be a direct reflection of the source of the inspiration. It may only be a result of this inspiration sparking your attention and churning your soul, compelling you to do something or create something.
Now, I believe there is one more piece to this ‘recognizing-your-dreams’ puzzle.
Creativity and inspiration are wonderful and necessary but it all doesn’t do you much good if you don’t have a passion for something. Passion; this is where your inspired creative effort gets expended.
You may, for example, love gasoline, oil, rubber and engines. You may have drawn pictures of cars when you were a kid. You remember your dad letting you drive at the wheel when you were only big enough to sit in his lap and could barely see over the steering wheel through the windshield. Later on you fixed your own flat tires on your bicycles and even cut the front forks and lengthened them into a chopper on some of them. You remember getting your first beat up car while working part time at a gas station. You fixed your own starter and timing chain. You gradually worked on more and more parts of the engine and other areas of cars. Over time, you developed a true passion for cars. Working on them, fixing them, building them, transforming them into works of beauty and art beyond merely a means of transportation.
If you find yourself drifting back to something time and time again and can’t seem to get it out of your system, chances are it’s one of your passions. If you want to enrich your soul you should strive to get to know as much about your passion as you can. You should research and familiarize yourself with parts of it you don’t even necessarily participate in regularly. A lot of times, doing this will lead you to paths within your passion you didn’t even realize existed and as a result you might be surprised that other opportunities for self satisfaction and fulfillment materialize.
Here’s a way to crank up our little exercise a notch.
When you’re jotting things down in your notebook, make a list of things that spark a sense of passion in you. Maybe you don’t want to be the richest CEO in the world but perhaps business and the all the twists and turns of day to day enterprise is a passion of yours. Or maybe you find golf irresistible and you constantly think of your last game and how you plan on improving your play the next time you’re out there. Maybe your flower garden and getting down in the dirt with your hands, working the plants and soil is a passion of yours. It doesn’t matter what it is as long as you think it’s a passion for you. Jot it down. You can have many and varied kinds. List them all.
Then leave it and let that all sink in for a while.
The next time you’re around your notebook, read it all. (Even stuff you may have hidden away in a shoebox). If you’ve been honestly releasing the thoughts of your mind to paper, you’ll no doubt begin to notice a pattern in your thinking and notice it points to certain things about you. You hopefully can now start to recognize the dreams and hopes you’ve had, all your life, inside of you. Now, after digesting all your writings and scrawlings so far, try to come up with a list of all the dreams you have. It doesn’t matter how extreme or wildly ‘out-there’ they are. Jot them down. Maybe you have a dream of being a rock star. Maybe you have a dream of being a doctor or lawyer or a teacher. Maybe your dream is to win a lottery and live off the prize. Maybe your dream is to save the world from pollution. Or maybe they’re quite a bit more personal. Maybe you’ve always dreamed of being fit and athletic or dreamed of finding a perfect partner to share your life with. Anything can qualify. Nothing is exempt. It doesn’t matter what age you are right now or whatever status or position you are in life. Write them all down.
Then leave it and let that all sink in for a while.
Have your passions and dreams ever been out of your head and on a paper somewhere on the earth like that before?
It feels a bit vulnerable doesn’t it?
You may even feel worried or scared someone may read your book and ‘expose’ you. You’d be embarrassed and it would all suddenly feel trite and superficial. Even if there is probably no chance anyone could ever read your book, you still feel naked to have things as personal as that; to have them out there, out of your soul, out of your head.
Don’t worry. It’s all part of the exercise. It’s healthy to feel any way you do. Perhaps it doesn’t bother you at all. Probably it does. Either way it’s a good thing to put your psyche through. How can you ever stand behind something you don’t publicly state? You must be proud of your convictions if they are to have any weight or value to you.
Think about it. If you can’t lay out your passions and dreams for others to see, how do you ever expect to chase them and make them realities? This is a pretty important question.
It reminds me of Madonna. She is truly a strange lady nowadays when you see her in interviews. She’s adopted this strange, affected British accent that she uses when she talks in conversation as if it’s her own native tongue?? Not sure what that’s about… But all that aside, one thing you can’t deny about her; she chased her dream and caught it. Being of that era I’ve been able to follow her career through the media and remember early interviews done with her. She always simply said she wanted to be ‘famous’. She wanted to be ‘remembered’. I don’t remember her saying she wanted to be a pop star or singer. She’s not a great singer. In fact she can carry a tune within a limited range and that’s about it. Yet she’s sold millions of records, she’s been in thousands of magazines, she’s known throughout a lot of the world. She originally was a dancer. That’s what she wanted to be when she found herself in New York in the early 1980’s. But because she wasn’t shy about exploring all her creative avenues and had a passion for entertaining and showcasing herself, she rose into other areas as opportunities arose and she exploited them to her advantage in chasing her dream. She was inspired by other successful entertainers and was also inspired by each progression of her own success. She’d reinvent herself as a trait of her particular style and this in turn inspired countless other women to pursue their own dreams of being stars. Many will refer to her as a source of their inspiration on their own journeys to the big time.
I doubt Madonna ever worried or worries about how others will perceive her dreams or passions. I doubt she cares if others think her trite or frivolous. I think she focuses on something wildly far away and doesn’t feel it’s not possible as long as she uses whatever creative talents and intelligence she has and works at it. I’m sure the money, by now, feels good to have for her but I’d bet it wouldn’t really matter to her, in the end, if she had only fame and nothing else because that was her dream in the beginning, anyway. And for a while at least, she’ll be remembered too.
Elvis, when interviewed at one time, said his original goal was to pursue music and make an impression on his parents that his abilities and talents could earn him a living at it. He also said he was basically shy and it was a good way to meet girls. I think he achieved most of his dreams before he died.
Are you beginning to see why being embarrassed or ashamed of your own dreams is crazy? Nothing you could think of could be any more far-out, ridiculous or self-serving than the initial dreams of anyone that actually pursued and achieved theirs.
And understand that you don’t have to grab the whole enchilada, all at once.
The old saying, “Everything in moderation”, applies here. If you’ve dreamed of being a great artist, known the world over, it only makes sense that you probably can’t leap right to that position no matter how dynamic or forceful you are in your initial efforts. But this isn’t any reason to give up and abandon the notion altogether.
This isn't an 'all or nothing' kind of thing.
There is nothing wrong with starting with baby steps. Taking a sketch pad out to a park and making sketches of the scenes you find there. Practice your craft. Keep all you efforts. Tuck them away. Hey, they might be valuable some day.
Leonardo da Vinci had pages and pages of ideas and sketches drawn and filed away that have since been discovered long after he left this world. As he matured in his craft and his passion of being an innovator, artist, inventor and thinker evolved, the results of his creation became more and more sophisticated and refined. But it is refreshing to view some of his earlier work. His earlier spurts of inspiration and jottings show that he too, this great man, went through clumsy stages of growing into his passion and reaching his dreams. As time passed for him, his talent focused tighter and tighter and output became better and better but in the beginning there were rough edges to some of it. This will be the same for you and anyone else brave enough to pursue their visions.
One of my own personal journeys, as you may have picked up if you’ve read other writings by me, has been to come to play, know and understand the fiddle. Years ago I became fascinated by its total saturation in North American culture in the Mississippi delta region, in the Maritimes, in the Métis culture; actually throughout most of the world in fact. It was the main instrument of emotion and music before the modern era of electricity and amplified keyboards and guitars. If there was a social gathering in a community, a wedding, a dance, a party, a funeral, the fiddle was usually present, front and center. Its voice would compliment the atmosphere of the occasion in a big way. At one time I didn’t know a thing about it. One of my own little dreams was to master this instrument and if anything, be able to also play some of the traditional music that so many great musicians before me have.
At a time when I couldn’t play one, didn’t own one, didn’t know exactly where I should even buy one, it always sat in the back of my mind. One of my little dreams, unfulfilled. And of course, anyone I happened to mention it to would look at me strangely. They’d raise their eyebrows and pucker their lips and agree with me that it was a noble dream in the same way you do when you know you’re talking to a crazy man and don’t want to upset him. I grew up in Western Canada. The land of Trooper, Supertramp, Loverboy, ACDC. Our music is defined for us. It’s pumped to us without us having to think, through the TV and radio waves from the time we’re punks. Our attitudes, dress, beliefs are formed for us long before we even think for ourselves. Actually we don’t even have to think if we don’t want to. What the hell would I want with an un-amplified, archaic thing like a violin? A grandpa instrument! I obviously had suntanned one time a little too often.
This isn’t much different from how your own dream(s) might be perceived. Before they start to take shape, they will appear odd and strange to others around you and there will usually be much more to discourage you from dabbling in them than to encourage you.
But I didn’t care. Luckily for me I don’t care much what others think of me. Never have. I researched. I found and bought a fiddle. I bought or borrowed records and CDs of fiddle music and taught myself the tunes. I brought over tunes and licks from my other musical instrument backgrounds and adapted them to my fiddle music. I went to gatherings, in other towns and cities, of old guys playing fiddles in the company of each other in legions and pubs and learnt their secrets and techniques. I heard the stories, the history, the tradition. I immersed myself in their community music sessions and spirit.
Today I’m not a virtuoso or a ‘Don Messer’, ‘Al Cherney’ or ‘D.Leahy’ or anything like that but I do OK and more importantly, I’ve scratched at some of my dream at least. I’ve dabbled in it somewhat, paid it some attention and feel I’m just a little bit richer for it. It’s a creative journey that was inspired by my interest in the history of Canada, North America, the people and my passion for music. By believing I could reach at least some level of proficiency, I pursued my little dream in this area and now am happy with its ongoing progress. Some of the people who originally smiled politely at my plans when they were just thoughts, now are complimentary as to how far I’ve come. I look at them, grin and thank them politely then look back down at my fingerboard and remember the long, colorful journey I took to get this far.
The problem for people out there who have many dreams is that it becomes hard to pick one. I say if you can't choose, don't just walk away from them, pick them all! You have the rest of your life left to dabble at least a bit in each and you'll naturally gravitate more to some, less to others.
Well, that’s basically it.
That's about all I have to say about it.
I could go on and on with this subject but I think you might get the idea by now.
You can choose to pursue any of your dreams as far as you wish to take them.
Or you can choose to do nothing with any of your dreams.
And that’s OK also.
There’s nothing that says you have to do anything.
But remember, when you choose to do nothing you’ve still made a choice.
And in the end, we all eventually have to live with our choices.