Well, it’s not. Take a moment to think about it. Really, now, it’s not. There’s a shit ton of other things that are, like corporal integrity, a decent minimum wage, respecting every damn peace treaty and such and even these, to be honest, are important in as much a degree as life is important. If we agree upon that, it only takes a few moments of introspection to admit we are arguably very unimportant in all aspects. Can we make a difference? Sure. Does that difference add to something of importance? Probably not, in the higher scheme of things but, dreams?
To be honest, I believe they are just the means, not the end purpose. We pursue dreams to gratify ourselves, to find peace of mind, to better ourselves, to attain success, to have a nice chair at the ten year high-school meeting and, most times, to stick it to our parents. People who pursue their dreams are anxiety burdened and worrisome. They aren’t any happier with doing what they chose to do instead of what the system imposed, but they still have the outlet of saying at least it’s something they’re doing for themselves. Ruthless. Arrogant. Sexy.
However much we’d root for the above, here is where we need to make two distinctions. First, we have to think about most people’s dreams, whether they are correctly worded or not. Some want to be amazing teachers. Others want to see the insides of your brains and know how to sew them together correctly. Most people want to be superstars. Others might want to reach a lifelong sustainability just by continuing to post on Instagram. Some want to be CEOs. Some want to wonderfully parent an enormous family. Others want to know what the hell brought life into existence on Earth. There’s a tremendously enormous array of professions out there and, to be honest, even more passions to go with them. The problem we are facing is not why it is important to pursue our dreams, but why it still turns out to be so hard to do so. Why does pursuing one’s dream have to come with sacrifice, loss and failure? Why do we still relish in stories of movie stars who turn out to have been waiting tables for years before landing that 70s classic? Why do we so eagerly digest counts of researchers conducting their life changing work in poverty and debt? Why does the against all odds construction still bear so much magic to it? This is the real problem we face. Sure, a superstar or two may emerge. A young entrepreneur might have a breakthrough after a couple of smart sales to larger companies and eventually change the world forever, but what about the millions that are wasting in car washes, diners, bars and call centers? Don’t get me wrong, I love the struggle. I’ve seen enough movies to be a sucker for the underdog script too. Hell, I’ve been broke nearly my entire life and whatever dimes I made I invested right back into all my tiny enterprises. I lost, got back up and tried again. I failed so much I can’t believe I haven’t called quits so far. But I still do it. I love doing it. There’s no drive here, not even inertia. Truth is, hell, I don’t even think much. I don’t pursue anything actively, I just like birthing whatever comes to my mind. And I do take the sacrifice of doing what I like over anything else, no matter how unpalatable it sometimes gets. Running the race for a spot in the market is, in the very least, discouraging, especially in fields like research and medicine, let alone the arts and all other creative enterprises. Setting the standards for your work in its ability to sell is restricting and untrue and we should all stone the practice to death and work out a new system for it. Amirite?
Second, we have to separate the end from the means. A job is just a job, after all. Talent is but a penchant. There is something inherently magical in nourishing it and watching the things you touch afterwards bloom as if they never were your own creation, but it is still a skill, in all fairness. What is that dream we are talking about, truly? Is it attaining success? Is it having people you’ve never met think highly of you? Is it peace of mind? Is it changing the world? Is it enslaving the world? Is it making money? Good. Now go for it. Hold your goal steady in your mind and go for it. This is the shortcut you’ve been waiting for. If it really is the spotlight you dream of, it should make no difference how you get there so just pick the shortest path by doing stuff you like. Don’t bore yourself to death and don’t work for peanuts, two simple rules. Nobody cares about what you actually do anyway, they’re all just staring at the stakes. That’s where you can find some freedom, little as it is.
My personal dream was being able to say no. It may just be my upbringing. A poor, micromanaged and strictly raised boy dreaming of shunning authority, rejecting girls, denying limits, declining shit projects, refusing free lunches, negating his teachers. No has been my lifelong favorite word and, even though I’ve actively pursued a career in theatre, one in illustration, another in tattooing, several in music, marketing and branding, all I’ve ever pursued was the right to this small victory. Saying no. That’s what keeps me sane. That’s what keeps me smiling six times a day. That’s what keeps my heart rate in check so, small as it may be, that’s just my cup of tea. It might seem unimportant to you, but I’m having my go at affecting and infecting.
I’m really not the guy to come to for feeling deeply sessions, but you now have my two cents. Beethoven once wrote a letter to his son saying ‘Kid, if there’s anything of importance on this Earth, it may well be destroying the world but doing it without hurting a soul’. See? I’m just trying to finish some other guy’s script. Staying true to yourself is so last decade.