Cross Off a Dream

In following with yesterday’s post, I’d like to keep talking about lists; but, this time I want to talk about the stuff you haven’t forgotten about–the stuff you can’t forget about.

So, you think you’d like to take a photography class. You put it on the list. You throw away the list, but you still wake up feeling an inclination to Google search “photography classes in my area.” You have a shower instead and forget about it. While making breakfast, you remember what you had wanted to do when you woke up, but now you’re late for work so it’ll have to wait. It’s not important anyway. It probably wouldn’t even be that much fun, and you don’t have an extra couple hundred bucks to spare. You don’t have a talent, either–you have a Flickr account but it pales in comparison to most. You leave home, satisfied with your application of logic, but somehow your emotions aren’t soaring. Life continues as it has for the past month, week, year, and you’re bored as hell. What could you possibly do to change the status quo? Photography? No–remember? You ruled that out for many good reasons. Something else will come to you. Something much better.

The topic of photography keeps coming up. Opportunities to learn about it present themselves and pass you by. You complain to your friends about how busy you are, about how little time you have to do the things you love–for example, you’d take a photography course if you could, but of course you can’t. You create an increasingly greater distance between you and your idea; you put it on a pedestal when it had originally been accessible through Google (you’ve forgotten about that–you’re now somehow under the impression that you’d need to complete and application and submit a portfolio, and there’s no time for that!). And you stagnate.

Time might be the problem. But even if it is, consider that it isn’t.

Desires don’t have to be very grand to qualify as dreams, nor do dreams have to be very grand to qualify as scary. Why do our dreams scare us? Let me share with you my answers to the big “What Ifs”.

What if I find out I have no talent?
What if it isn’t fun?
What if it turns out to be a waste of money?
What if I don’t learn anything?
What if I have nothing left after this?

If you have no talent, then you have no talent. Wouldn’t you rather find out now so you can move on to trying something else? To finding a real talent? In any case, you probably won’t know for sure until you’ve tried it a few times. Everyone sucks at the beginning.

Also, you might still enjoy the course even if you aren’t particularly gifted. But if you don’t, then you don’t–but I bet that it’d be more fun than you’re having right now. Plus, regardless of the fun rating of an activity, putting yourself in a new environment often busts open some secret thought-doors in your brain, and that, in and of itself, is probably worth the money. Not to mention that your excuse-making will stop, your guilt will lift, your mind will stop nagging you, the pity party will end and you’ll feel more empowered.

Of course, you can do a bit of casual research on a class (don’t let it consume you). But whether you do this or not, it could turn out to be bad. The teacher could have changed since the review was written, and different students want different things from a class, so opinions are biased. To avoid “learning nothing,” make sure the class caters to your skill level. If you’re a beginner, call and make sure the material won’t go over your head; if you’re not, ask what the class covers and see what corresponds to what you don’t already know. If you’re still worried, ask about a refund policy.

What is most debilitating, for me at least, is how blinding a dream is. I tend to run too many thought-experiments and hinge my plans on the outcomes of situations that haven’t happened yet. I daydream about my life and try to design it around what I think I might be good at. That would be fine if I stopped there and actually went out and did the stuff I put in my plan, but I tend to get carried away, planning further and further, until I’ve constructed a story that depends entirely on the outcomes of early variables. When I say that a dream is blinding, I really mean that it renders reasoning very black-and-white (which, especially to someone with depressive tendencies, is to be avoided at all costs); either things go as you’d love them to and your “dream life” actually happens, or they don’t and you’re nothing short of doomed.

This is a fallacy. What I discover, time and time again, is that for every dream I cross off my list, I discover either more dreams, different, or bigger ones. I’m pretty sure this example has been used many times, but it’s powerful: Where would Jimi Hendrix be if he never followed through with buying his first guitar (and even he probably sucked at the beginning)? He would have never built on that dream, it would have never grown, and he would have never seen the heights he reached. The only step you can see clearly is your next one, so take it and let it be inspired–because when you follow your inspiration, fun things happen.

There is never nothing left after this. These days, when I have a recurring thought (which I tag as a dream), I feel like I must follow through, if only to see what goodies lie beyond. Dreams are like babies: when you feed them, they grow, change, and nourish you back.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Cross Off a Dream

  1. Cool post – so true on thought process of putting off the things you long for! I’ve been focusing on pursuing dreams lately, and actually just wrote about it today too! It’s funny how the world seems to know how you’re thinking and feeling, and sends you other people who seem to have the same things on their minds, huh!? Awesome. 🙂

  2. Sometimes making a list is a good way to organize your needs and dreams. Instead of just trying to focus on something in your head, the best thing to do is to write everything down, and make steps on how you’re going to get there.

  3. Thanks for the post. I particularly like simile at the end, made me smile! I have more confidence to carry on dreaming away from my bedroom in London 🙂

  4. hello, blueberries,

    funny how photography is one of the “ideas” i gave up on. not really crossed off, because crossing off a dream is a concept i’ve come across just now, thru this post. ^^ btw, i suck even in just holding a cam straight. ^^

    yet, years back, i took up painting and also, studied basic computing. same logic you have – i don’t want to nurse what-ifs in the years to come.

    and yes, i learned some things from both. painting went passably well. didn’t accomplish a feat in programming. but i learned concepts and a bit of execution. and when i come to think of it, both money and time weren’t wasted. there….

    am gonna have to think about crossing off some dreams, hehe. thanks for the idea. cheerio! 🙂

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