I have been absent from the blogging world for quite some time, and frankly, I have no excuse except for maybe feeling like I had nothing to say. Today I have something to say, and it may offend some of you. I apologize in advance, but not for my words.
Today I want to talk about following your dream. Do you have a dream? Most of us start out with a dream. In childhood we all want to be something when we grow up. Boys typically want to be firemen or cowboys or maybe a race car driver. Girls’ dreams aren’t that much different, but I’m less familiar with them. I believe we all want to live a life of significance and meaning as much as anything else, with a little adventure thrown in. From a fairly early age, I wanted to be a musician. In fact, I came from a musically talented family so that wasn’t so much of a reach. In any case, we all pretty much grow up having some idea of who or what we want to be.
But an odd thing happens to many of us along the way, especially to the more artistic folks. Many of us encountered resistance to our dreams. Mine came from my parents at first. They worried that I would never “make a living” playing music, or be able to “support a family”. Initially, my youthful exuberance just blew right through that stuff, and I had no problems at all going against the grain of my parents’ wishes. After a while, some of my peers started in on me too. One close friend, another musician actually, told me once that I had a brilliant mind and that I would waste it if I spent my life playing music. A girl I dated asserted similar pressure. I began to doubt my dream, and over time gave up and settled into a more, MUCH more, conventional lifestyle, which made my parents very happy. The girl broke up with me anyway, which was no great loss. I went back to school and eventually got into a cutting edge high tech career.
Twenty years later, I found myself with a wonderful, loving wife, four beautiful children, a large expensive home, new cars, and all the trappings of success. However, I also found that, although I had all these great things, I couldn’t stay happy. There was something eating at my soul that I couldn’t shake. I was desperately tired of my career but didn’t know what to do about it. I still played music, alone in a small room on Saturday afternoons where I kept it bottled up and mostly denied. I have spent the better part of the past ten years trying to recapture something I voluntarily gave up long ago to make someone else happy.
Without making the story any longer, I had a dream, but I let myself get talked out of it by more “sensible” people, and that cost me something I may never be able to regain. Once the ruts of money, debt and obligations are decades deep, it’s pretty difficult to steer the wagon in a different direction. That doesn’t mean I’ll stop trying, but my point is this – keep your dream and don’t let anyone tell you to be more sensible, or realistic, or responsible. Go for it, and let the chips fall where they may. And for goodness sake, don’t give up, and don’t trade your dreams for a paycheck.
I’ll close with the lyrics from one of my favorite songs by Pink Floyd:
“Did they get you to trade
Your heroes for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees?
Hot air for a cool breeze?
Cold comfort for change?
And did you exchange
A walk on part in a war
For a lead role in a cage?