The assignment: Name your dream. That’s right. Write it down. “In a perfect world, I would secretly love to be a _____.”
I’ve been pondering this question for two weeks but am finding it difficult to answer. You could’ve asked me this two years ago and I would have said a world traveling photographer. But, that is a dream that has been realized; I’m living it. And, as it is with all possibilities that we imagine, once they have come to fruition and are no longer pulling us forward, their power has expired. It’s time to dream a new dream.
That was part of my motivation for doing The Artist’s Way, a twelve-week workbook devised to have you tap into your innate creativity and remove any blocks that might stand in your way. For almost nine weeks now I’ve been engaged in the practices of this book which include a daily stream of consciousness writing exercise, a weekly date with myself to nurture my inner artist and answering many questions like the one above. I’ve discovered a few valuable things from the process.
- I value hard work. I come from a family that values hard work. The basic belief is that your life can be whatever you are willing to make it as long as you’re willing to work hard. This belief proves to be a bit limiting for me because living a creative life, the kind I’m interested in living, doesn’t require hard work. It requires play. Is it possible to sustain your life with play? What if it’s easy? What if it’s fun? In order to live the life I want I have to give up the idea that it’s hard work and give myself permission to really play.
- Sometimes I try too hard to figure things out and do it right. This isn’t exactly news to me as I’ve recognized this barrier before but it’s something that I must repeatedly distinguish and let go. Perfectionism is an illusion and the enemy of creativity. I have to continuously muster up the courage necessary to put myself out there, try something new, fail, learn and start over again. I value people that are in the arena, not just pointing out how others could do it better. That’s the kind of person I want to be.
- Just do the next right thing. Somewhere along the way I had this idea of selling our photographs as a way to support our travels. It combines the things we love and seems like a natural progression. My mind went dizzy with ideas – we could set up booths at traveling art shows around the US, book ourselves for several consecutive months and then go abroad the remainder of the year to shoot and travel. But this type of thing would require an initial investment to get set up and we really have no way of knowing whether our work would be well received in that venue. Would people want to buy our photos for their house or business? I don’t know. There is no way to guarantee success but we can move in the direction we want to go by doing the next right thing. So, we’ve decided to set up an art show while we’re home and test the waters. I’ve contacted a friend who has eagerly agreed to host it and the planning is in motion.
As far as answering the question, I can’t. Not definitively anyway. The best I can do is “In a perfect world, I would secretly love to be a person that continuously musters the courage to chase big dreams.”
What about you … How would you fill in the blank?