Gratitude, Joy, Oneness and Service (Day 656 – Day 662)
It’s a rainy day in London and I know that the news can get a person down. I have been thinking a lot about the wonderful people I meet in London. I have been wanting to direct a post to all who dare to dream.
I look at people in their twenties, and I am amazed at what they are accomplishing. My nephew is a hockey champion, one niece is a Canadian weightlifting champion and the other niece has two degrees and a full time placement as a social worker. When I was their age, I had held very responsible jobs, lost a parent, loved and lost my partner and was scared to really chase my dreams. I had nobody who really mattered, that believed in me enough to tell me not to give up.If someone had said this to me at a crucial moment of decision, my life would probably be different, today.
When I was in my twenties, I got accepted to do my Master’s degree in playwriting at NYU.
I turned it down.
Take a moment to let that sink in.
Very few people know this. Yes, I got the chance to chase my dream, and I turned it down. I chased it in other ways in a Canadian writing school and in the NYC film business, but the stage was my passion. I wanted to go to NYU more than I wanted to live, but the investment in tuition was too great for a career as a playwright that “wouldn’t pay off, financially.” How did I know that? I didn’t. That wasn’t my voice speaking in my head. It was the inherited wisdom of voices that had told me, all my life, to stop being a dreamer and to get my head out of the clouds. I was a highly sensitive young person and when I heard that story enough, I used it to quell my fear of stepping up to the plate and striking out. Or, more frightening still, of hitting a home run. Like most adolescents, I was insecure and I didn’t believe in myself. So, when I held the ticket to my dream in the palm of my hand, I chose to crumple it up and I throw it away.
That was a defining moment for me, in many ways. And the sad thing is that most people have never pursued their dreams. That defines them, as well.
I am so happy when I see younger people giving it a shot. I am blown away by the talent that they have. And I see that they struggle with the same fear of failure, fear of success, money issues and well – self doubt – that I did. And they are really talented. Really talented. And, what they are doing is amazing.
I know my demographic is 34-65 and not the twenty something generation, but I feel like Joe in John Patrick Shanley’s ill conceived film, Joe vs the Volcano: “I have no interest in myself. I think about myself and I get bored.” What interests me are people who don’t share my perspectives and who can open my mind.
The other day, I clicked and followed links to look at a couple of websites of bloggers that some of my younger friends follow. Street art websites are interesting but, of course, given my own work, the sites that I like best are the ones by young artists, photographers, and writers themselves, working at their craft. The writing and perspectives are interesting. The sites are hip, visual and engaging. And yet, what I hear from them is a sense of ennui, of feeling a lack of a place for them in the world, and a need to boost their artistic confidence.
Why? Who is it that is telling them it isn’t going to pan out? If it’s us, then we need to shut our fat mouths and start being supportive, because the world needs more art and entrepreneurial spirit. Now, more than ever.
One of those bloggers I read this week was someone who expresses his self doubts at creating music and is really trying to give it a go. He has so much talent as a writer. I mean really talented – better than some of the working writers in magazines that I encountered in my time in the business. He wants to write music, and yet, with all this talent, he doubts himself.
I wanted to tell him: Don’t give up.
Seriously: Never give up!
Of those in my writing classes at UBC, I know of less than a half dozen who are published and award winning writers. All very talented, yes. But, some of the most talented writers never went anywhere. It wasn’t lack of talent. They gave up. Whether I was talented or not, I also have to admit, I gave up on myself too. Long before I got tired of writing dark tales, I backed away from my dream. And maybe that is why my writing remained dark and stuck. Those who made it had one thing in common: they never gave up.
Any unfulfilled dream will remain and if you don’t pursue it when you’re 25, you’ll be scrambling to pursue it at 40 or 50 or 75. It never goes away. No amount of money in the world will ever make us happy if we are unfulfilled.
I may be presumptuous, this may be unheeded, but if there is even a chance in a million that I hit the right note with someone like myself, who, at 27, needed someone older to believe in them, then I will say it:
“Never give up. Keep making your art, because the world needs it.”
I’m grateful for those who have believed in me and have encouraged my creative and entrepreneurial dreams. I’m grateful for the mix of friends that I have, ranging from 22 to 83, and for the many perspectives they bring into my life. And, I am grateful that I didn’t wait till I was 50 or 75 to unearth, dust off and start pursuing my dreams again. It gets harder to achieve what we want to achieve and to create the body of work that is within us as we get older, and I wish I knew then what I know now, but I didn’t. This isn’t a dress rehearsal for Life, the Musical. We only get so many days. We might use them well.
It is a joy to learn that actually, I can still write and more: I can paint. I’m not very good at it, but why would I be? I have never tried it before, have had no instruction and am just experimenting and trying it out. And in a way that I can’t always, with words, I am able to pour my love into a painting.
When I see a young artist, writer, actor, or musician, I see myself, and whether right or wrong, in that moment of Oneness, I am compelled to do the service that I wish someone had done for me. Maybe it isn’t a service really, because I know that in speaking to them, I am also speaking to the 27 year old inside of myself who still doubts herself and still wonders if anyone cares if she ever writes another word.
So please, never give up.