A dream is a horrible thing. It intoxicates your being, keeping you going and keeping you more or less single-minded in your quest. One day, you accept the dream. The next, you deny it in some ways, but you quite can’t let it go. Particularly when a dream’s ethereal slivers tempt you in the same way that disreuptable employers often keep their employees on staff, giving them a yearly raise that is just large enough to keep them on the payroll for another year, but just small enough to keep them financially dependent. The dream is so intoxicating and so lovely and just on the horizon that you must keep going, groping at the rope and slipping off and trying your grip again, seemingly ad infinitum. Even when your friends, even the ones who are also chasing similar dreams*, tell you that you’re a fool and that you should really go dig ditches like the rest of humanity. And you do your best not to tell them to go fuck themselves, because you really do like them and you try to remain civilized. Even when you recognize the underlying pragmatism of their advice.

The problem with dreams is that they must co-exist with this kind of financial reality, which isn’t what you would call dream-friendly but is apparently “necessary” towards existence in Western civilization. The problem with dreams is that they reflect the culmination of certain innate talents that you try to keep quiet about. Hell, it would probably be a lot easier if you didn’t feel the burning desire. But you just can’t help yourself. It’s in your nature. The problem with dreams is that you’ve been burned so many times before when you’ve pursued similar dreams that led to this one. You’ve persisted when people have told you to go to hell. You’ve survived countless horrors, but you keep pretty quiet about it. Because the one tangible Venn diagram between dreams and reality is that, no matter what’s gone down before, the playing field is equal. Nobody likes a whiner.

And nobody is honest enough to confess any of this, because nobody wants to reveal their dreams. Because after a certain age, it becomes “childish” or “juvenile” or otherwise unacceptable. What business do you have pursuing a pipe dream? You think the world owes you a living? (Actually, no.)

At some point, others give up. You watch them get married and have kids, while you still remain obsessed with the dream. While you spend much time alone trying to perfect strategies. Trying to get better. When working for the dream sometimes takes up every spare moment. When those who have the dream can no longer fathom the sheer discipline and tenacity it takes for one who doesn’t to keep on going.

But it could be worse. You too could give up. Or, even worse, you couldn’t have any dreams at all.

* — And, hey, you understand that and encourage them, because you like and admire the hell out of them and wish them happiness and want nothing more than to help them get there. You certainly wouldn’t deny them their dreams. Why is it that they go out of their way sometimes to deny yours?

One Comment

  1. Um, getting married and having kids doesn’t equal giving up your dreams. It can happen that for some people the pursuit of a dream slows, or stops. Others, it speeds up or doesn’t change at all.

    It doesn’t seem like you’re explicitly equating quitting and family, but you’ve put the two in close enough proximity that I thought I’d say something. Artistic success and family aren’t mutually exclusive.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *