Thursday, May 2, 2013

Unfulfilled Dreams?



     You probably have dreams and ambitions, like I do. Right now, I am grappling with the knowledge that I simply cannot fulfill all of my dreams. In fact, no one can fulfill all of their dreams. We may not even fulfill our one or two most deeply held artistic dreams. Not even if we try our best. Not even if we work really hard. Not even if we're good people, or we spread good Karma or we love Jesus.
   Realistically, my writing might never be published, and I have to be okay with that. What is "getting published" for you? Setting up a gallery? Being a dancer? How will you deal if your dream doesn't come true?
   How can any of us deal with this possibility? How, when we've spent years--two and a half, so far, for me--and lots of money working towards the goal of *fill in the blank*...
   But wait. Is that "goal" really what we are working towards? Will meeting that goal actually make us happy?
     In the video below (2 mins and 25 important seconds of your life), Dave Harvey answers the question, "What is the relationship between ambition and contentment?" I think this is important for writers or any type of artist because...we dream, right? Dream of our book in libraries and burning up the best-seller lists, dream of choreographing the most beautiful sequence...If you have big dreams, you might want to watch this video. It talks a bit about faith because I am a Christian, but it won't bite, I promise!

     Harvey suggests that we can be content with our lives despite unfulfilled aspirations. We have each of our dreams for a reason--they just may not turn out how we think they will. They can turn into something good if we follow them with patience and persistence.
     Maybe you dream of writing, but also of selling cupcakes, or learning to style hair  in your own outrageous fashion tastes, or you wish teenagers would flock to your house and eat all your food and you want to listen to them dream, too. There's a time and a place for our desires to meet and one day they will, even if we don't recognize it at the time. Maybe you won't ever understand your dreams or the work you put into them (scary thought!), but that isn't what matters. It matters that you know you authentically pursued them. You did your best. Even brilliant artists sometimes only became "brilliant" posthumously (such as the author Zora Neale Hurston, or the artist El Greco, just to name a few). As dreamers, we have to be okay with that knowledge if we aren't going to drive ourselves and our spouses and possibly our kids and everyone we love nutty.
     Our goal can't just be publication or however we think our dreams would be "fulfilled." We have to be okay knowing that we may never see validation by others. We have to be okay with knowing we did all we could and we did it well. And, if you are a Christian, you can know you stayed in line with God's plan for your life. Contentment is found there.
     Artists only enjoy life if they content themselves with what they have rather than seeking validation or a certain goal. Focusing on the end goal (getting signed, etc.) truly only brings disappointment because we may never understand why we are blessed with certain talents. Maybe we were never meant to be published or be a famous rockstar; maybe we dream that dream for a different reason than what we can possibly imagine.

Thanks to: Regent University for showing me this video.
Photo Credit:
By Plismo (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons


  1. Nicely said. You've probably figured out by now I don't self-identify as Christian, but some of these truths are universal. I went through a period of despair a couple of years ago when I saw the publishing industry falling apart, and I realized that the dream I'd had when I was younger to be published no longer meant the same thing it used to mean. (Part of that was the change in the industry, and part was my own naiveté.) The soul-searching that prompted led me to understand what my dreams really were, and although I have to recalibrate myself from time to time, I have been deeply satisfied with my writing life and publishing choices since then. So yeah, I agree.

    1. Peter,

      I enjoy hearing (reading) your perspective, especially to see where our views line up and where I might be able to learn from you.

      The way I see it, if a person is going to be happy, they have to be very self-aware. What do they absolutely need in order to feel like a flourishing human being? To be a flourishing human being? I admire your choice to self-publish. You obviously know where your priorities are. Thank you for posting about your experience!