A call to live your passion

My friend Jarrod Terrell, whom I met through Kevin Scott‘s Effortless Alphas group, recently challenged his fellow Alphas to share their goals and dreams for life in a Facebook video.

In part, the idea was that verbalizing your dreams made them real for you, but it also opened the door to others in your community who might be able to help make those dreams come to fruition.

Here is my video.

How can I help you discover, explore and share your passion?

See also:

So, What’s Your Story? (web site)

So, What’s Your Story? (FB page)

Contagious Adrenaline (FB page)

 

Dream snatcher

dream web

The other day, I engaged in the following conversation on Twitter:

Him: There are a lot of tweets directed towards aspiring filmmakers telling you to “never quit” and “follow your dreams.” That’s terrible advice.

Him: If you met some guy and he said he wanted to be a professional NBA player would you immediately suggest he follow his dreams and never quit?

Me: If that’s where his happiness is, then yes, I would. Who am I to call down his dreams? Would in fact offer to help.

Him: Attention anyone in the world who is looking for someone to help them become a professional basketball player.

Me: If you never try, how will you ever know what you might accomplish? Why live by someone else’s thoughts on what is feasible?

I understand his point.

So often, people express a desire to become something or someone without a good understanding of what it takes to do that. And in a subset of these situations, the aspiring individual isn’t willing to put in the requisite work to overcome their ignorance or skill-set shortcomings.

I’ve known several people who upon seeing how much joy writing brings me express a desire to write. And then do nothing about it. And unlike the professional NBA player quest described above, writing simply requires a computer or pen & paper. And yet, many of these people refuse to write.

But even knowing this, even if I had complete clairvoyance to a future of procrastination or frustration and agony for them, does this give me the right to tell them they shouldn’t try? I don’t feel that it does.

Despite my conversational counterpart’s sarcastic response (I assume it was sarcasm), I am happy to help anyone become a professional basketball player, if that’s what they want. I have no idea what skills I could possibly bring to that quest, but hell, we all need support to follow our dreams.

chase-catch-dream-big

You don’t have to be an expert in a subject to help someone.

You can help them better understand what they’re attempting so they can make informed decisions. You can offer a couch or spare room if they need a safe haven. You can cook a meal or several for them when money is tight. You can cheer at their successes and offer a shoulder in times of frustration or disappointment.

And most importantly, you can let them know that success or failure—whether internal to them or measured by external yardsticks—has absolutely no impact on whether you will be there for them.

To all of my friends and to people I have yet to meet in life, pursue your dreams with everything you have, make your life choices knowing that I will be there to help you in any way I can.

And do your best to ignore the dream snatchers who think they are doing you a favour by talking you out of your dreams.

go-confidently

And if you’re tired of watching me live my dreams, check out the blog of a friend of mine who has started living her dream life: Pipe’s Adventure.

You are your own inspiration

An actor friend recently expressed “I don’t wanna” about leaving town for an upcoming gig. I assumed it was less about fearing the gig and more about leaving home, but I wanted to let her know it wasn’t about wanna or even hafta.

Enjoy.

dream

In search of fairness

What if:

Companies gave each employee personal leave of say 6 or 12 months with guaranteed income and the promise that their job would await them at the end of that time period. 

And let’s say the employee could have one of these personal leave periods for every 3 years of employment at the company.

The employee could use that time for travel, to write a novel, to teach monkeys to sing or to raise a newborn child, all without the worry of money or job-security.

That seems fair, doesn’t it?

Guarantee

Second Sight

snow leather

A flake of snow falls from the sky,

A crystal of water from heaven’s gate,

And the angelic white contrasts sharply

With the black of leather

As the flake lands upon my glove.

The simple elegance of lines and angles,

Vertices and sides, stand out in my mind

As a moment of magic.

But, by its very nature

A moment is only transitory.

 

Soon, the star of ice

That I hold in my glove,

Succumbs to the heat of me,

Escaping slowly through leather.

Slowly at first, but quickening every second,

The incubus begins to transform.

Tendrils are lost and tiny arms

Begin to puddle on my glove

Until all is lost, a spot of water.

As quickly as it arrived,

The magic is lost;

A moment never to return.

Within seconds though,

Another flake arrives

And the cycle begins anew.

 

This is the very nature of magic.

Transitory but unlimited

And the moments of mystery

Are guided by ourselves.

Their duration a test of our desire

As we get older, our worlds more severe,

It gets harder to find

The magic in our lives,

But it is not because

Magic does not exist.

It surrounds us at every turn,

Simply awaiting our attention.

Call it God, faith, life or dreams,

Magic exists but for the seeing.

 

Sometimes you just have to use

The eyes of the soul and spirit

Or a friend to point the way.

(Image is property of owner and is used here without permission but a little magic.)

The Maples – A short story

Center Bar

“The maples?”

“Still there,” Lucy smiled. “They look like hell, but they’re there.”

“I thought the hurricane took everything out,” Jeremy replied.

“Actually, the ice storm in February did the most damage. About half the trees split at the trunk, so the whole copse leans to the left.”

Jeremy smiled at her, eyes alight.

“What?”

“The whole ‘copse’?” he teased.

She slapped his arm, causing his rye and coke to splatter. She mopped the mess with her napkin as he licked the alcohol from his fingers.

“Well, it’s hardly a forest. There are what? Twenty trees?”

“Sounds right, from what I remember.”

Lucy sipped at her straw, taking in the new Jeremy as she took in her iced tea. He had come a long way from the torn jeans and sleeveless sweatshirt she remembered from school.

Truth be told, she too was a long way from the matching couture of her younger days, knock-off Gucci and Prada long replaced by Mommy and Dadda.

“So, what kind of law?” she asked.

“Corporate mostly,” he said. “M&As, takeovers, trusts.”

“A real-life Gordon Gecko!”

He laughed.

“Nothing that sexy. No Darryl Hannahs in my life. Although, I am okay with greed…within reason.”

“Still. New York City.”

“Might as well be Albuquerque for all I get to see the city,” he replied. “Most days, I sit in boardrooms watching people talk to tape recorders and then reading transcripts of the same conversation to verify the transcriptionist isn’t an idiot or deaf.”

Lucy rolled her eyes.

“Seriously, if I wasn’t charging $750 an hour to play Tetris, I’d go back to bicycle repair.”

Lucy’s eyes widened.

“I’m sorry. I should have said anything about the money. Sounds like I’m bragging.”

“Bragging?” Lucy repeated. “Surprised you’re not standing on the bar, crowing.”

Jeremy’s smile faded, triggering a flicker of self-consciousness in Lucy. She put her hand on his.

“Tell you what, you can buy the drinks,” she said, trying to make light of it all.

He smiled, and they fell silent for a moment.

Jeremy swished the ice around in his glass, attracting the bartender’s attention. Jeremy shook his head at him.

“So, two kids,” Jeremy finally managed.

“Yes, boy and a girl,” Lucy said, jumping at the change in conversation. “As well as three dogs, a cat and a goldfish that just won’t die. Don’t believe them when they tell you goldfish have the lifespan of a toilet flush.”

“That’s quite the menagerie,” Jeremy responded. “You hear about a big rain storm I should know about?”

“No,” Lucy giggled. “Besides, Dave would look terrible in the long white beard.”

“Your husband?”

“Yeah,” she replied. “Has a John Deere dealership in town. He’s stable.”

“Stable?” Jeremy chuckled. “Not the most ringing endorsement I’ve ever heard.”

Now it was Lucy’s turn to go quiet, adjusting her jacket below the bar.

“I’m sorry,” Jeremy interjected. “That came out totally wrong.”

“No, it’s okay,” Lucy replied softly. “And you’re right.”

Lucy poked at her ice cubes, searching her thoughts for her next words, as Jeremy waited. Something told him, she was actually glad to talk about this.

“Dave’s a good man. A good father,” she explained, adding quickly, “And husband!”

Another moment of silence.

“The best man I could ask for…in Bedford”

Jeremy waited. Lucy would continue when she was ready.

“I don’t know. Maybe I expected too much after high school…” she faded off into her own world.

Finally looking up, Lucy realized Jeremy was watching her, eyes full of concern. She laughed at herself.

“I’m babbling,” she blurted. “Life is good. Great. Really.”

A wistful smile migrated across Jeremy’s face.

“We all have skeletons, eh?”

“And some of them come with mortgage payments.”

“Attention passengers of US Airways flight 7783 to New York. We are now boarding executive and elite status members at Gate 61.”

Jeremy removed his boarding pass from his pocket and threw a $20 bill on the bar.

“Sounds like that’s my cue,” he said, rising to his feet.

Lucy stood, giving him a quick hug, which he returned, not releasing her right away.

“Good seeing you, again.”

“You, too,” Jeremy replied. “Give my best to Bedford.”

Lucy remounted her bar stool as Jeremy grabbed his bag and headed toward the concourse.

“Hey Jeremy,” Lucy called across the bar.

Jeremy turned back, confused.

“I didn’t think you liked me.”

Jeremy smiled and winked.

“I didn’t,” he laughed. “I like this you much better.”

Lucy blushed as he dissolved into the crowd.

 

(Image is property of owner and is used here without permission because I had to fly.)

My Creative Journey – Part One

What follows are a few thoughts on why I write…the moments in my life that led me to embrace my passion. It is an incredibly personal story and I hope it doesn’t make anyone uncomfortable, but rather helps them reflect on why they embrace their own passions.

Image

I need to be creative on my terms.

When I was younger, it was all about acquiring knowledge and being recognized for having acquired that knowledge. In hindsight, I’m not exactly sure what I was planning to do with that knowledge.

In some respects, it was about solving a puzzle, which could range from how does this alarm clock work to how does the universe work. On another level, I think it was about control. Knowing how the universe worked meant knowing that there was a broader sense of organization out there; that the laws of physics and mathematics still held even when my own life seemed in constant flux. The subtle irony of entropy only occurred later.

But it was also about control in the sense that I couldn’t be expected to come up with answers, with solutions, until I had all the information I needed to make that decision. The aggravating reality of that method of control is it only works when you’re the one asking the questions. Nobody else is willing to wait until I have all of the info I need.

At the same time, I needed the safety of analysis and knowledge, I’ve also had a need to be creative. A need that has only recently blossomed as a regular part of my life.

When I was young, I was constantly creating new worlds through my stories. First, as play scenarios and then as the written word. I constantly developed short stories that took me in a million directions. Again, this might have been an attempt at control.

When I wrote, I was the master of my universe. I was the one who decided who lived and who died, who was allied and who was the enemy. I was the protagonist and the antagonist.

It was in 1977, as I started high school, that I first noticed the strength of my writing. That summer, my life changed with the release of Star Wars. So deeply effected was I by the characters and the story, that I immediately went home and started working on the sequel. My version took a very different turn than George Lucas’s—although there were some subplot overlaps—but over the next few weeks, I hand wrote 400 pages of dialogue.

I shared the script with my Grade 9 English teacher, who was impressed with the volume if not the content (my words, not hers). It was in her class that I first realized the power of my words to still and disturb an audience.

On day, Ms. Philp gave us a writing assignment that started with the sentence “I couldn’t believe it when I heard that sound.” It was supposed to be an in-class assignment, but I was onto something and asked if I could take it home to finish it. I guess she sensed something—that this was important to me—and she said yes. While I didn’t finish the story, I did hand her several pages the next day.

After reading the story herself, she decided to read it to the class. Whereas most people had written stories about funny sounds, spooky sounds or weird sounds, I had written about a man who comes upon a murder in an alleyway, first by the sound of bone and sinew breaking, and then by sight. I wrote about the fear and indecision in the witness’s heart as the murderer sees him and he flees for his life.

As Ms. Philp read the story aloud, there was silence in the room—a room of 14 and 15 year olds. No one said a word until she was done reading. It was magical for me.

I wish I could say that there was a rousing round of applause at the end and that this was the day that I decided to become a professional writer. There was no round of applause—although my class seemed to appreciate my story—and Ms. Philp continued to be supportive of my efforts, but there was no effort to foster this creative desire in a young boy struggling to define his world.

The opportunity was there. Everything was laid out for someone to recognize, but nobody tapped into it. Writing continued to be a strange little quirk of my life. I guess it was just easier to find ways to support my interest in science and history by buying me more books, taking me to the Science Centre.

What do you do for a budding writer? Get him a pen and a notebook? Buy him a typewriter?

Eventually, someone did buy me a typewriter—a vehicle to do my homework. But it quickly became the vehicle for my creative outlet, much to my mother’s chagrin. The muse hits me when I have time to be alone with my thoughts. When my day isn’t cluttered with requests for attention and responsibilities. Unfortunately, in my childhood home, those times only tended to occur when my family was asleep.

Routinely, my mother would yell down from her bedroom for me to stop wailing away at the keys. Loudly pounding them into submission. Watching the letter hammers get stuck because the thoughts occurred to me and be translated through my fingertips faster than the typewriter could accommodate. She wanted to be supportive, but not at the cost of a good night’s sleep.

It took no time at all before I had an incredible portfolio of work—half-finished thoughts, short stories—but they languished unread by anyone other than me. I had given voice to the creative urges in my soul but no one heard that voice. It was the proverbial tree in a forest. With no one to even acknowledge the existence of my efforts, did they really exist.

Where was my mentor to guide me through this process? Someone to help me hone my voice. To make my stories better. To help me get my voice heard.

To be continued…

Dream ‘scape

How do you say goodbye to a dream? How do you deal with the fact that you can only start a dream but have no control over how it ends?

Dreams don’t ever end the way you expect them to. My first clue should have been dreams of the sleep variety.

So often, for the ones I can remember on waking, my dreams start remarkably well for me; I am achieving something, accomplishing something, learning something highly desirable to me. But just as often—whether positive dream or nightmare—the dream veers off the course that I would have consciously or rationally chosen for it, and I find I am not as in control of the dream as I had hoped. When the dream ends or when I awake, I find I am in a different place than I expected to be.

So it goes, I am learning, with wakeful dreams; those moments of aspiration and decision where you consciously set yourself on a path to something different.

I have spent my life dreaming of a different existence, and in the last year or so, I have been very active in making those dreams my new realities. As time passes, however, I am coming to realize that I have only so much power to steer my dream once I have initiated it. It is like climbing into a barrel and rolling into the river above Niagara Falls.

The current will do what the current will do. The rapids will buffet me as they choose. Gravity is the great roaring sound in the distance.

But as much as I talk about passively floating downstream and letting the universe decide, there is still a part of me—the human part, no doubt—that feels if I just press my shoulder this way or press my heels out that way, I can right the barrel so my head is high or somehow adjust the forces acting on the barrel such that I remain suspended above the gorge when I hit the precipice. But I am wrong.

I cannot say with certainty that upon hitting the precipice, I will plummet into the waiting whirlpools and eddies at the base of the falls. However unlikely, according to my friend Isaac Newton, I might fall sideways. The river could reverse its course at the last second. I could wedge behind a rock and simply be buffeted in place. Or I could wake up and find myself in bed.

I chose to set the wheels in motion, but that’s all I did, and to a greater or lesser extent, that’s all I can do.

The next few months will be very telling for the directions my recently initiated dreams will take me. I may awake to find they were ephemeral. They may continue into idyllic fields. They may turn into nightmares. It is not up to me.

If a dream must end, it will end. And if it ends badly, then I shall be sad and maybe a little angry. The onus is then on me to start another one. It is all I can do.