Isn’t it funny how often we dread something, drag our feet and complain, only to discover that it is the very opposite of what we thought it would be?
Monday’s. They are the bane of anyone in a job like mine; they are the end of your free time, the day when you have to go back to work and try to be a sensible adult. For me, they tend to remind me that I am not living the life I want – not completely, anyway.
This is what is funny about that. I have a job driving. More specifically, I have a new route and it is more country than town, a welcome relief from last Christmas, when I was stuck in the city and dealing with the ever increasing irritation of fellow drivers facing the holiday season.
Driving has always been a form of creative fuel for me. I do meditate by sitting still, the traditional form, but my favorite meditation is country cruising. At one point, I knew the country roads around my hometown so well that I knew at least six ways to avoid the inevitable floods that cut everyone else off from escaping in spring. Driving was always my answer to any sort of writing block when I was younger. As an adult, it gave me a way to deal with my anxiety, which began to really take hold in college.
So, as you might suspect, I actually do like my job. It isn’t my dream by a long shot, but I don’t hate it. Usually.
This morning, though, every step toward it was full of resistance. Maybe it was the rain that kept me from the forest yesterday or just that my DnD group didn’t get to murder so much as a single orc, leaving me with the sense that my weekend was incomplete. Either way, I was fully against work today. In my head, I was certain that it was going to be an absolutely horrible day and why the hell do I have to work this silly job anyway?
I won’t go any further with my inner monologue of whine. It is enough to say that this is the same voice that made sure I was always at the very limit of sick days during high school (though I had far more reason to avoid school than work). Even though I have long outgrown that kid that would tap out at the slightest sign of a (fake) cough, I still had this stone of dread in my stomach all the way there.
I didn’t really have so much to do, but, at some point, I did realize that the stone had melted away. That is about the time I started thinking about dread and what it really is. Like anger, it is a signpost. It is delivering a message that needs to be translated. This is why driving is good for me; there is a lot of thinking that can be done on the right country road and a whole lot of ideas are born in those empty cornfields.
I have known for a long time that I’m not living the life I want. I have spent a long time trying to decide the best way to move toward that life. There aren’t a whole lot of rules when it comes to creativity that can actually be expected to work on a regular basis. You can’t beat the muse into submission – found that out the hard way – and you can’t bribe it. It cannot be shamed and talked down do. Flattery means nothing and begging will get you nowhere.
In ancient times, Celtic bards were considered sacred, almost monk-like. They were thought to be getting their songs and stories from the divine. They would go into small rooms, cover any windows, and light a single candle in order to ‘hear’ the voice of the divine, the Oran Mor – the Great Song. I probably don’t need to mention that plenty of them were driven near madness; this is not a job for the faint of heart because there is no set path. You can work and work on something and end up with nothing. All too often, artists in all forms end up living an unfulfilled life, angry and bitter, because they just cannot find the answer for their own creative path.
I think my dread this morning speaks to that fear. I like my job. But I don’t want to live out my life as nothing more than a delivery driver. And, when it comes to that, I think a lot of us can understand that feeling. I don’t know how many of us are actually living the dream. In fact, I suspect there are a whole lot of us that don’t even know what the dream is.
I think a lot of us have an idea, but we are fuzzy on the specifics. Or, like me, maybe you built the specifics off someone else’s ideals. I love to write. But I’m not really sure, these days, what sort of writing I want to be doing. I know I need to be walking in the direction of my dreams, but I also know that I need to really understand what that dream is. Do I want to write fiction or take you on real life adventures? Do I want to go back to poetry or is there something to be found in writing a spiritual blog? I can’t completely answer these questions. But I want to.
This week, I’m dedicating myself to figuring exactly what I want. I’m setting myself to certain tasks and plotting out my youtube sequence to listen to those who know exactly what it means to go chasing after a dream that everyone else says is impossible. I want to know what it sounds like and looks like when someone realizes their dreams are diverging from the ordinary model. I want to know how others have found their own way in the creative minefield. And I want to see if I can’t figure out exactly what I want to do with my stories.
And so I put it to you, my friends. What is it you dream of? What did you want when you were younger? What do you still want? Is there some way you can bring that into your world? No-one says you have to quit your job and move to LA to become a rock and roll singer. Maybe it is enough just to buy a guitar, learn to play it, and entertain yourself after work.
Real change can begin as such a small thing. The grain of sand in the oyster’s center. I’ve always tried making big changes because that’s me. I tend to do things in drastic measure. But, right now, I feel like the answer to this daily type of dread, this fear that, a year from now – or ten – I will still be right here, talking about Monday’s and overdue bills, is to take small, certain steps to identify the little things that I can do to have a bit of my dream right now. Even if it is no more than a moment, it is a moment spent moving in the direction I really want to go.