Wednesday, April 21, 2010

What Dreams are Made of

People do a lot for their dreams. Depending what it is that a dream requires. Spite, spit or spirit. That’s the stuff. If your dream asks things of you – spine and sacrifice – do you then wonder what you are asking of your dream? To become a self above all selves? To only be real when seen? To walk between the moments like Jesus in between the raindrops? To win the battles you are already winning, just in your sleep? To step into the spotlight looking exactly how you planned to look? And if yours is a real (and I mean really real) kind of dream, what wouldn’t you do for it because you are afraid that it might fail you…then you would be left with no dream at all?

I wanted to be a writer in first grade. I wanted to write stories and draw the pictures too with my crayons that would appear glossy on published pages. A quiet and reverential child, I wanted to see myself on those pages; my eyes looking back in the pictures that I drew for the words that I had written. And then, in a real book, the real me would truly be seen. My existence pored over, line by line, and my little hand an apprentice to a product that would be so much bigger and better than I. The human story told by a little girl where everyone in the story matters – even the ones who don’t talk.

My elementary school had a miniature book binding machine. The librarian would take the stories we wrote and bind them into a little feux-leather books with real bindings, real pages and real pictures we drew. I wrote hoardes of them and waited anxiously to get them back in different colors, warm from the machine. I wrote one story called the mermaid dragon. It took place in China and a half-mermaid-half dragon genie gave a poor shoeless boy a chance at happiness however he defined it. In the end he chose love over riches of course. And the whole storyline was eerily similar if not completely plagiarized from Aladdin. A local children’s writing contest picked it up. I won and I got to read it at our local mall. That day in that big empty suburban mall on an early Sunday morning reading a story that wasn’t completely mine, I felt like I had finally found my place in the world – at the table of humankind and among the ranks of those I admired. I was six.

Now I’m older. I work at a magazine – a good one. And it’s in a very nice big glass office in downtown Manhattan. I work at a desk and I have people who believe in my abilities as a marketer. I know how to engineer an e-blast with authority, experiment with different ways of writing a message to get people to do things and I’m a diligent taxpayer. I work for recognition, socialization and rent. And I realize that this is a very respectable, if not admirable way to live. You don’t always have to earn your keep in the world, you know. And you especially don’t have to do it in the ways that make it into the movies. Some of the most gracious, giving and inspirational public people I’ve met in the big Apple have clean collars, great stories …and very self-serving underbellies that you only discover with lipstick over a drink. Yes, I could very well live like this happily – knowing and not contorting or over-revealing myself, using the time of my life to make friends not feux-leather-bound books and bad habits that come easy and die hard.

Ah but sometimes I do wonder. Those pesky raindrop life-filler moments that I cant seem to walk between. Its right what they say about me. Usually over drinks and usually while spending money I don’t have and usually after some small human interaction has made me want to kiss the world all better with big wet lips and big tears salting my salmon fritters. They are right to ask me what I have done for my dream lately. What publications have I submitted to. How many hours of non-marketing copy have I written this week. What unheard voice am I giving song to today. Not tomorrow. Tomorrows just get thrown away with last night’s trash. And they are right to criticize. Because when I come home and I hang up my clothes (I’ll probably buy more tomorrow) and I go to the freezer for cheap vodka (setting my alarm for work in the morning beforehand)…its then that the nip of that dream brings me hard and fast to my knees with a quick, warm bite right to the heart. And it doesn’t get its teeth from being leather-bound, velvet-roped or reeking of Carrie Bradshaw. It’s the uncalculated, constantly miscarried but somehow trustworthy current that runs through the middle of me when I do just what I am doing now. When the words come and most of the time I hate them but some of the time they light perfectly upon the very moments of my life like afternoon sun on a running gutter brook. Flighty, transient and dirty but ever so worth sitting on the curb to watch. Tiny beads of belief that open the heart like a jewelry box with a crowbar. And the truth is, blogosphere, I’ll let you in on a little secret. I don’t chase this dream because I’m desparately afraid of losing it. Forever. Its the worst excuse I can think of for ignoring a dream and I’m it. Maybe they are right. Maybe someday they will say over cognac and chinese take out, “That girl, she sure had heart, but she don’t got no gumption.” If they say anything at all. Because I sure never did.

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