The Courage To Dream Again

(adapted from a letter to a friend)

Return, Fear, and The Nature of True Dreams.

* * * * *

1. RETURN: Return to whatever dream, if it happened, would fill you up, and make you happy. But really imagine it happening. Is it the work that makes you happy in and of itself, or is it the recognition, the pay-off? What work makes you happy, all by itself? What feels good? If we don’t know what that is, that’s ok. At least we’re opening the door of wonder, to find out.

2. FEAR: We’re afraid to try again because we’re looking at it wrong. Let’s say you starred in your own film, won an Oscar, and I won a Pulitzer for my stuff. Now what? Pressure’s on. Are you a one hit wonder? Am I? There are expectations now. Let’s say we get a few successes, get used to that, but what then? Will it be a lifelong success, or will we fall out of fashion? Become has-beens? Is that less terrifying than being a never-was?

You and I are wrong to think our dreams are broken because our last efforts didn’t turn out the way we’d hoped. There is no finish line, no Destination except this moment; no ending point, except our last breath. Every time we try and hope for something, its always going to be the same risk. Doesn’t matter if the last thing failed or succeeded. The next thing will be just as risky. The same is true for everyone who tries for a dream, at any time at any age.

3. THE NATURE OF TRUE DREAMS: If our dreams are age restrictive, they’re not true dreams. You wanted to be an A-list actor before you were 30, and I wanted my novel to be a best-seller by that time. The reason these dreams weren’t real, is they had a finishline, a delusion disguised as hope that said, “When I hit THIS I’ve made it!

But like the #2 Fear paragraph says, there is no “made it!” No finishline that makes everything great, forever. Success can even increase pressure and fear. So if we still want those same things, if those really are our dreams, we need to change them up in our minds to be True Dreams. A true actor’s dream might be: I’m going to give my all to be the best actor I can be; I will devote the rest of my life to improving my craft to give all that I can.

Who can take that dream away? Who can stop us from doing that at any age? That is a dream independent of circumstance and industry, reliant only upon our Devotion. That is a lifelong mission statement. With that lifelong mission statement, whether failure or success comes, it won’t derail us.

Both success and failure are great at derailing dreamers. Look how many die at the top. Even if success lasted the rest of your life or mine, the fulfillment it brought would leave, unless the work is fulfilling, in and of itself, which takes us back to paragraph #1 RETURN.

That’s why we need to define that True dream, the work that is fulfilling all by itself, and that lifelong mission statement, that is independent of success and failure.

Success and Failure are ripples on a pond. But the True Dream, the Lifelong Mission Statement, is the Pond. We need the pond, not the ripples that come and go.

dream-quotes1

My Littlest Spirit Guide

Outside my window, off my balcony, is a big bushy tree with beautiful orange flowers, tons of them. When the setting sun hits them, they are even more beautiful. The hummingbirds that frolic, fight, and fly about the tree seem to have a ritual in the time just before sunset. They are exceptionally tiny creatures with orange breasts, many the size of a bumblebee. I watch them every dusk and I know their patterns.

Having very recently separated from a nine year relationship, and only now realizing I have unprocessed grief, these tiny friends have been a great comfort.

I began to notice hummingbirds years ago, after my mother died. The day she died, one flew up and down directly outside my front window incessantly. Quite a show. I was sad, and not wanting the distraction. Rather than close the drapes, I went to a room in the back of the house. I opened the blinds, and there was another hummingbird, or the same one, flying up and down in that same crazy way. Both times this happened, I had the absurd feeling that the bird was  trying very hard to get my attention.

What was going on? At that point, I wondered if there was truth to the multicultural, multi century belief in Spirit Animals. It seemed to be saying, “Look how happy I am! Look how free I am!” Then I felt a sudden chill, and the thought came that this felt like a message from my mother.

Tonight, I’m wondering about Spirit Animals again.

My ritual in my new apartment, is to go out on my balcony every night at seven pm and watch the hummingbirds on the flowers as the sun sets. It is usually a happy time. But tonight, I felt sad. My ex (very recently separated) is meeting an online romance on this night, who is quite probably the new love. The sorrow came on very suddenly. I thought I was past that, and wasn’t at all sure why I cared so.

I decided to go back indoors. If I were to weep I would not wish be seen. But then I noticed something different. One hummingbird was not flying about. It was on a wire, the nearest one to me, directly across from me, looking in my direction. All the other little birds flew about gracefully and/or fiercely, but this one did not move. If a fierce hummingbird chased it away, it would flit up for a moment, and come right back to the same spot. It just perched right across from me, looking in my direction.

Instead of going indoors, I decided to consent to the stare-down with the little one, and I thought, I’ll sit here till the sun leaves the flowers, and all the birds go to their hideaway, as they do every night. And the sun did leave, and all the hummingbirds flew away, except this one. It remained. Directly in front of me. Did not move. At that point, I remembered the experience with my mother, and began to wonder about this little bird.

The beautiful album Anahat, by Bachan Kaur was softly playing through the window. I hadn’t noticed the music, until these words came drifting into the beginning night.

Don’t look back, open your heart
right now, is the perfect time to start
you don’t have to try, just let your self go
don’t ask why, ’cause you already know

The timing felt meant. A message to heed. At that point I knew it was time to let go, of this sunset and the past. I did let go. Then I stood up, and I bowed to my Littlest Spirit Guide, still on the wire, still staring my way, and it still did not move. As I closed the door upon the evening, I looked a final time at this little friend, and from this hummingbird I felt, “I’m not leaving you. I’m watching over you.”

How very welcome and timely.

Afterwards:

I came inside and looked up the Hummingbird as a Spirit Animal. These were the first words I found regarding the Hummingbird’s meaning in one’s life.

1. The hummingbird reminds you that you are missing the joy and sweet nectar of life by your narrow focus.

2. It might just be your departed loved one telling you that she’s watching over you so try to cheer up!

3. The Hummingbird is there to add Playfulness to your daily grind!

4. When dealing with challenges or negativity, call on the Hummingbird to bring you a positive outlook, and find your way out with optimism. 

I will, Little Friend. Thank you, muchly. I’d kiss you if I could! : )

The Authentic Artist

How we admire the artists who do the work we want yet fear to do, or worse yet still, imagine we cannot do. Our fear is not of the work itself. We are intelligent enough to recognize process, and that our maiden efforts are not what is, but what is becoming.

What we fear is that our work will not be accepted by ourselves, by others, by the powers that be, which can transform an artist into an immortal legend or a worthless failure in the eyes of world-at-large. And without the approbation of these great powers, we feel our dreams will manifest as failure, unwanted.

As our art is the work dearest to our heart, a deeper fear is now unveiled: that we, as Artist, the very core of us, could potentially manifest through art, unappreciated, and therefore meaningless, to others, and to ourselves. This is why the few are living artists, and the many are but dreamers, dabblers, who do not whole-heartedly create.

To reverse this fearful restrictive lack of pursuing full potential, the dreamer/dabbler who would be Artist, must recognize the Truth that shatters the false fear, and the false paradigms that reinforce this imprisoning delusion.

No one dreams of being a poser, an imitator, a mediocre artist. It is the Authentic Artist that elicits authentic admiration and lasting contribution. The purpose of art is to be authentic, and reveal authentically that which is in the soul: the artist’s organic psyche and the Great Creator’s expression through this psyche.

When this Co-Creation is allowed/achieved, it is inspired art, and the work is a success regardless of worldly reaction, and the Artist knows it, and does not not know it, for doubt has not left the building. If the Artist can continue to recognize her own authentic work, despite inner doubts and social reaction (be it praise, condemnation, disinterest, patronizing condescension or other meaningless input) the artist will remain inspired to create, and therefore remain an Authentic Artist, which is to say, a Great, Successful Artist, in the truest sense. 

At this stage of certainty, the world’s acceptance or lack thereof, is recognized as only the world’s gain or loss. The Now Invincible Authentic Artist can henceforth only gain certainty, and further conquer the dreamer’s, the dabbler’s false fears, and all that will remain, is the Authentic in the Artist. All have the potential to live this Ideal Authentic State Of Certainty. 

The Judgment: For the Authentic Artist, it is about the Work, not the Accolades.