I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”
# Thoreau | Walden: Or, Life in the Woods
I know it’s obvious, but I am amazed at how much my attitude can affect everything. Two months ago I quit my job to pursue my dream of writing. I was excited to finally be taking myself seriously and plunging into the attempt of “putting the foundations under my dreams.” But somehow, once I stepped into it, I lost that sense of adventure and could only see how things were working for other people. Or wonder how what I was doing looked from the outside, struggling to match up to the expectations of an unknown taskmaster. I couldn’t acknowledge any of my accomplishments — none of my effort was enough. Apparently I mistook ‘taking myself seriously’ for becoming grave.
As a four (enneagram!), envy is my fatal flaw, and it can crush me at times. I feel like I’ve been under its weight particularly these past few weeks. And then, suddenly yesterday, the light broke in and opened up just enough room for me to shift my view. The adventure, my adventure, was right there waiting for me — I simply had to accept. It would cost, of course, they always do — but it would be worth the cost because it was what I wanted.
Literally, from one day (Monday) to the next (Tuesday), everything changed. And now here I am on Wednesday (Independence Day!) with a ticket to go to London (which I purchased at 2am this morning!). So, in just a few weeks I will get to visit my friend Sara in her sweet flat right off the Thames. We’ll hang out for a week while I’ll do research for the script I’m working on that’s set in London; and then, the next week I’ll get to go see the Lake District, a place I’ve wanted to see ever since I watched Miss Potter, and hopefully meet up with my friend Beki.
Sometimes it’s just that easy — not cheap, but easy — a ‘mere’ choice. The cost is worthwhile. I forget that so often; I wrongly think that something is better if I get it for free, but valuable things are worth their value. That’s the whole point. The issue isn’t whether you’re rich or poor, have time or don’t; the issue is trust. Dreams are pointless without movements towards their realization. Anyone anywhere can make such decisions. Your steps will look different than others’ (these things are always incomparable), but there is a way for each of us, if we will but see it and step towards it — that is all that is required of us.
And I finally see one of the things I’ve been missing these past few months (maybe years) — that a writer does what a writer needs to do in order to write. Every writer is different. For me? I need to stand in the places I want to write of, as much as possible. And so, as crazy as a spur-of-the-moment trip to London may seem, I think it may end up being one of the smartest decisions I’ve made. This is what it means to take one’s self seriously. And there’s nothing grave about it. In fact, it feels like Christmas.
As I was preparing to write this post, I went in search of the Thoreau quote above and found a whole string of brilliance which led my friend Malina and I to a lovely discussion on the importance of pursuing dreams and a trip to CVS for red lipstick (a first for me! but go bold or go home, right?), because that’s what you do on Independence Day.
We must walk consciously only part way toward our goal and then leap in the dark to our success.”
If you have built castles in the air,
your work need not be lost; that is where they should be.
Now put the foundations under them.”
# Thoreau | Walden: Or, Life in the Woods
*Don’t you love that line — that is where they should be? — that is how you value something. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Thoreau.
And this final one, wraps it all up with a flourish:
We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn, which does not forsake us even in our soundest sleep. I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavor. It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.”
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