After reading an article, Learning the Secret to Mastery: An Interview with Robert Greene, which discussed childhood dreams, I felt challenged to contemplate my own childhood dreams.
I don’t remember what I wanted to be when I was five or six, but I do remember a couple of years later consumed with writing.
I wrote in my journal. I conjured stories and jotted them down, secured them in ink. I don’t actually remember having a conscious thought of being a writer, but I was fascinated with creating an alternate world that I could get lost in.
Greene’s article touched on the importance of practice and persistence in obtaining our childhood dreams, or any dream we may have.
Practice and persistence weren’t part of my tool kit one could say, when I was younger and more spry. My writing then centered around the idea that I could conquer the writing world with a swirl of my pen with little effort.
The fact was, I was lazy and scared.
I believed I could whip out a book, a bestseller of course, and all my dreams would come true.
That didn’t happen.
I detoured down a road that took me away from writing, or should I say the development of the craft, the persistent willingness to keep learning. I allowed my ego to take the driver’s seat while I wrote.
My arrogance and the never ending sense of impending doom that followed me like Pig-Pen’s constant dust cloud weighted my writing down and with it my willingness to hone my craft and improve.
Instead of being honest with myself and recognizing my unwillingness to hone and fine-tune what I loved, I blamed it on the perceived fact that I wasn’t any good and should give up.
Eventually, I did give up.
I found myself doing menial jobs that meant nothing to me. I attended college while obtaining a degree that I would later realize I didn’t want.
I started businesses in areas that I was good in but felt no passion for, no sense of purpose or drive. I kept searching for my niche, out there where I thought I should be, where there was money to be had.
To look at my dream as a possibility would mean taking a chance, putting myself out there past the land of comfort and security. That sounded scary. Too scary.
Later, after a compilation of various skills, I found myself crying on the way home after the realization blazed in front of me that I didn’t like what I was doing and never had.
One word surfaced, like water to the man deserted on a hot, dry island.
A dream I had let go of years before or, at least, tried to. I never really gave it up, because I couldn’t.
Words and images always bubbled in my mind, constant and without warning. There were even nights when stories clawed their way to the surface of my consciousness, demanding to be let out.
After a time of me shoving away what would not leave, I decided to accept the fact that writing was a part of me and always would be.
I also accepted the fact that I couldn’t determine where my writing would lead me or if I would make any money with it. All I knew was that I needed it with me, regardless of the outcome.
With that acceptance, I have had to do what the article talked about, practice and persist. Develop my craft because without it I feel incomplete, like I have lost a part of me on this road of life, a part that can’t be replaced with something else, and definitely can’t be ignored.
Another idea that Greene touched on was that we may not have had a specific name for our passion or dream. Maybe we just remember truly loving something that we used to do, something that joined our parts, made us whole, filled-in the space in our souls.
Like feeling dirt between the fingers; feeling an ache in our thighs from hiking; enjoying the smell of fresh cut wood; enjoying the creative juices that spark when picking the right paint color; loving the challenge of math problems on a page; feeling love and grace when listening to a troubled friend; or feeling right with the world when baking cookies or making a cake.
And maybe between the collected perceptions of what others thought was best for us or what we thought we should do and the daily happenings of life, we lost them, set them aside, and settled for something less challenging, less us, less fulfilling, all with the sound surety of getting a paycheck.
Don’t get me wrong, paychecks aren’t bad, actually they’re quite the opposite, and very needed if one wants to eat regularly and have toilet paper.
In hindsight, for myself, I can see how I let go of what I loved, not because it didn’t pay but because I didn’t believe I was good enough to even try.
There’s my main challenge, believing in myself enough to even get off the starting line, and not just that, but maintaining that practice-and-persist-attitude to the finish, not giving up part way because it’s too hard (insert whiney voice).
Really, my effort and time is all I need.
I’m curious to know what your dreams were.
What did you want to be when you were young?
What did you enjoy doing? What do you do now?
Are you happy with what you do? If not, what would you like to do instead?