(adapted from a letter to a friend)
Return, Fear, and The Nature of True Dreams.
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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.