I thought I’d leave you with quote today. When I worked in Saudi Arabia, I had a friend who read a lot of non-fiction. She used to challenge the way I thought about things and preferred when I wrote serious posts rather than silly ones. This was always one of her favorite quotes. This blog won’t necessarily be about this quote, but you will find some relevance and reference to it if you look close enough. We will attribute this quote to Og Mandino because he actually said it and I don’t want to upset any of his fans along the way. And I won’t bore you with much history either, but for those who need a refresher course on who Erasmus is:
Erasmus was a Dutch writer who is attributed to the fine quote, “In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king”. He challenged religion and politics and thought that if he took a hard stand on any side he would lose his credibility as an artist. I don’t know what his dream was/is.
Okay, back to the quote at the top of the page. I’m not sure how philosophical I want to get with this but it does lend itself to some in-depth interpretation doesn’t it? The very nature of dreams, and this is what made Freud a legend, is that they are meant to be unwound, retied, cut into with a dull scalpel, and exposed to the world. Just be thankful I’m not your psychiatrist and I’m only a writer with an opinion. If I was your psychiatrist I would be realizing one of my dreams now – living in that house with a little loft where I have floor to ceiling bookcases and a small desk, a laptop, a lamp in the shape of a penguin, pictures of my family and my wonderful spouse (when that happens), and a supply of chocolate.
You could look at this from a different angle, the angle of the dream, and contemplate and complain about having to wait around. Why is it such a bad thing to keep a dream waiting? Does the dream have some place better to be? Is your dream, standing on the street corner somewhere tapping his feet with his hands thrust in his pockets, going to suddenly forget that he is your dream and bolt for the first girl that gives him that look? Of course your dream won’t do that. Your dream is more dependable than your dog, and certainly more dependable than a man (and I’m a man and it pains me to say this – but we will undoubtedly do something to disappoint you from time to time). Your dream will not disappoint you. If you ever feel that it is, just remember that you were the one who selected this dream, not he you, so therefore, the disappointment should fall squarely on your less-than-broad shoulders.
But enough with nonsense for the time being. I am all for chasing dreams. As a writer especially. Yet this concept of chasing dreams doesn’t just intersect my literary life. So much of what I do, and probably what we all do, is instigated by a dream, or a desire, for something a little different or better. I’ve known for a long time that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. I think my family has known that for a long time as well. The thought of having a small house in Laugharne, Wales (where Dylan Thomas lived and wrote) seemed oddly poetic to a guy who hates poetry. This, so my dream went, was to be the culmination of my writing education. I knew I would have taken the steps towards finally mastering my craft when I settled into the stone house with the blue roof (visible from Laugharne Castle) and churned out page after page for publication. The dream wasn’t about being rich and famous; the dream was about finding that place where I could do nothing but write and be happy with anything that sprawled across my screen.
I still dream of this of course. I can still see it when I close my eyes, or when I’m sitting behind the lifeless screen of my laptop staring at the words I’ve just written or had written days or years before. Each one of those words meant something at the time. Each one of those words is but a step on the way to catching up with that dream that is still inching away from me. Yes, the dream is still miles away, still far off on the horizon, barely visible but glowing with a radiance I would love to bottle, but I can see it clearer now than in the days gone by.
How long exactly, does the dream wait before it stops being a dream and merely just another disappointment in a series of disappointments? Suppose, just suppose, that it has been a dream of mine to become a published author of a novel since I was 10 years old. And just suppose I’ll be 37 this year and that still has not happened. Even with my below average math skills I come to the conclusion that it has been 27 since this dream started to form and has gone unrequited.
It is still the dream, it always will be. You would think that the dream would grow bigger as the years rolled on but it hasn’t. The dream remains the same. He hasn’t decided the need to add pages to the final tally, or require that the book ends up on any literary award shortlists or on anyone’s book club.
And so I chase, and I chase, and I chase. I will keep chasing until I beat that dream into submission. And then it hits me like a brick in the head. What if, when I finally reach the dream, that the dream doesn’t live up to the hype I’ve given it? What if the pursuit of the dream is where all the glory lies? Just suppose it is like that first sip of beer you have when you’re living in a country that denies you that privilege and the beer isn’t as good as you had hoped? Could I handle that kind of disappointment as well as I handle the pursuit of a dream that seems unattainable at times?
I guess I will just have to find out. Let us go, my friends. We mustn’t keep my dream waiting.