Outside the new apartment, I stood and took in the surroundings. Over the fence at the aquatic and recreation complex, there was a lot of activity. On the swing set, two teenage girls sat talking about whatever it is teenage girls talk about on swing sets. Across the way from them, a collection of people in various age groups were engaged in a game of “horse” on a basketball court. The vulgarity of our spoken language flew randomly out of their mouths like a symphony of broken instruments, obscuring all other sound the afternoon had to offer and obscured to my ears by the simple distance between us. Upon the completion of a cigarette, I decided to retreat to my new dwelling. This uncontrolled environment was too much like every day to be very exciting and I was beginning to crave a change of scene.
Inside the apartment, a video documentary of an outlaw journalist’s estranged life creates the atmosphere where I find myself thinking about those days of youth and the words of an unforgotten and unforgettable friend that painted a wide range of images in my mind: “Oh my god, you smell like sex!” My only guess as to why this came bubbling up from the depths of memory comes from knowing that which can be observed can also trigger thoughts behind the eyes of those who witness. Like those girls sitting on swings and having a conversation, for instance. On many nights all those years ago, one could find me in the front yard of a friend’s house on an old picnic table where she and I had endless conversations about everything we could find worth discussing at the time. Oddly enough, all I remember of what we talked about back then were those words. Perhaps this is because they would always find their way into each conversation we had, randomly and without introduction.
Recently, she and I reconnected on a popular social networking site. This event, of course, as mind-blowing as it was for me, was not an isolated incident. Over the last few weeks on this site, a total of eleven out of those days of my past have resurfaced. From what I’ve gathered and experienced, this sort of thing happens all the time.
I must say that I am happy to have a chance to reconnect with these people. Each of them played quite a significant role in my life in their own special way and it’s been fantastic to learn what had happened to them over these years. It’s funny, though. Most of them either had been married at least once or is currently married. Likewise, most of them have children now close to the ages they were when I last saw them.
(Now comes the part where I am hoping no one becomes offended.)
Back in our youth, we weren’t afraid to dream. As we saw it, the world around us was open for business and the possibilities were uncountable. We could dare to aspire and we did so with ease. True, a great number of us saw the large possibility of a global war destroying everything mankind had built for their “future generations,” and we countered that idea with dreams of life in an apocalyptic existence. But, no matter what our dreams were at the time, the passion to follow them or the ability to decide upon which one to follow, most of us lacked.
Sure, many of the things we dreamed about were unrealistic, either because those events which had to take place before those dreams could be realized never happened (like WWIII) or because the doubts we’ve developed over the years that they could be realized somehow got in the way. Be it what it may, I don’t remember anyone saying that they wanted to be a single parent caught in a struggle to make ends meet nor do I recall any of us saying we wanted to flip hamburgers or pump gas for a living, either. And, of course, I’m not saying that any of us turned out that way, nor am I saying that one cannot be content living lives as a gas station attendant or fast food employee. I’m just saying that none of us ended up starting up that commune of peace-loving artists or building up that army of sociopathic survivalists. None of us are on stage performing to crowds of horny, naked women or swimming in a sea of money, either. There’s not one person among us who rules a nation, who lives in a mansion, or who is married to a movie star. Those dreams never came to be.
So, in light of this, I thought I would share a few thoughts on dreams and aspirations.
First, let me assure you that those dreams we had, as improbable as they seem, were not an absolute impossibility. For example, if the world had experienced an apocalyptic end, the likelihood of building an army would be more realistic in appearance than they are to us now. In more probable terms, if one had moved to L.A. and sought out to be a part of that Tinsel Town scene, the likelihood of marrying a successful thespian would be more of a possibility than it would be to someone living in a suburb of a city on the other coast of America.
This is the presentation of the opportunity. Be it an invitation to it or finding a way to bring it upon yourself, the closer you is to where your dream is more likely to come to life, the more likely it is to come to life. In other words, don’t expect the dream to come to you. If you’re not willing to travel to the ends of the Earth in the pursuit of your dream, it’s not very likely at all that you will even come close to catching it.
Secondly, there’s the issue of talent and skill. Someone with no sense of rhythm and no ability to play an instrument (or sing) is far less likely to find themselves on stage than someone who has rhythm and a few years of experience of playing music. Therefore, it’s better to pursue something you have not only the passion to pursue, but a natural talent for as well. This is not to disregard anything you can learn, obviously. A surgeon has to learn his or her trade before they can operate. Although, if you’re accident prone, have shaky hands, or a weak stomach, performing surgeries isn’t something you will be able to do without the likelihood of being sued for malpractice afterwards. Things like this are best to keep in mind when deciding on which dream to pursue.
Next up to bat, Dr. Hunter S. Thompson…
The idea that you are just one of billions on this planet should, by no means, prevent you from believing you will be lost in the shuffle or that it is impossible to stand out. If you have to, sit down and start a list of all those “famous people” whom you admire and whom inspires you. If you have listed any names at all, even if it was just one person, congratulations! You have successfully debunked the idea that one cannot rise above the masses and be set apart.
That idea is what we humans call “doubt.” Doubt, like fear and indecision, is a mind killer. Mind killers are self-induced and self-defeating… and the quicker you realize that, the better off you will be. If you start believing in your doubts, or start giving into your fears, you will begin to lose your passion and drive to achieve your goals. Trust me on this one, folks… that’s no way to live. And if you never decide to “make your move,” you will never go anywhere.
As far as the doubts in the minds around you… fuck ‘em. Did they not doubt that man would walk on the surface of the moon? Did they not doubt that the Titanic would sink or that the Wright brothers would ever get off the ground? Those doubts are not warranted, nor should you make them your own.
In all honesty, that whole concept of doubt should be seen as what it truly is, an opinion. An opinion, by its very definition, is not a statement of fact. It has no value, no substance, and no weight of its own. It is only as “real” as you allow it to be and it can only stop you if you give it permission.
If you begin to pursue a dream, see it through to the end. Never give up, never give in, and never surrender. Sure, you will have to make sacrifices. Of course, you will face some serious, mind-blowing challenges. Absolutely, there are risks involved and, at times, you will have to make leaps of faith. Why should that stop you? If you want to bring your dream to life, you have to live. From that very first step towards your desired destination, you have to be prepared to face all those pesky little things in your way. In doing so, the idea of merely “existing” must be abandoned and those haunting mind killers must be put to rest. They must be made the first casualties of this war.
Finally… if you truly believe you have to be crazy to make it in life, I say go and be crazy! Hell, you might even start to enjoy that freedom being crazy will bring. It is, I assure you, most liberating.