Sunday, February 05, 2006

Invisible Tightropes

I've always been a daydreamer, and I've always had big juicy plans. My life was not going to be ordinary! I would sail the world, sparkle, write books, see both sides of the moon. And for so long those big dreams were a safe distance in the future. I never had to connect the dots from "here" to "there." I remember so clearly the days just after college when it began to dawn on me that it was time to connect those dots. A paralyzing feeling of helplessness came over me. I was just some penniless kid with a diploma clutched in her fist who had no idea where to start searching for that magic tightrope to dreams. It was terrifying. I didn't search much. I got a job -- a great job! -- editing travel guidebooks for Lonely Planet.

I, who had dreamed so much of traveling and writing, found myself in an office editing the writings of other travelers. Hm.

I know I'm not the only one who has ever carved themselves a safe little nook on the fringes of their dreams! There is much to be said for safety, for health insurance and home ownership and all that good stuff. But what is sadder than a whole lifetime spent skimming along that crust of ice that begins to form over your dreams, watching it get thicker and thicker as the years go by but remaining always transparent so you can look through and see your dreams forever as they grow more and more misty and inaccessible? That's what happens when you "approximate" your dreams by choosing the closest safe alternative!

After two years I quit my job and went into debt to go to art school. I told myself, what's the price of one new car, more or less, for a whole lifetime of dreams? And I think it's worked out pretty well, happily! I didn't come out of art school six years ago with a map to that magic tightrope to dreams, but rather, that first big HUGE commitment showed me what I think we all already know: that the tightrope is invisible, and it's forged with every step you take. Following your dreams sounds like a grand romantic notion, but in fact it's a daily trudge, and not for the faint of heart!

I have heard myself say, in the past, the more people who aren't willing to take the risk, the better for those of us who are. But honestly, I think we could do worse than to live in a world full of daydreamers walking invisible tightropes towards self-fulfillment, and I wish more of us could find the confidence to put our dreams first!


Alexandra S said...

What a wonderful post Laini! I felt a little lump in my throat reading your words because as you know I did get sidetracked from what I most love. I know in my heart there is room enough in this world for everyone to live their dreams in one way or another. Sometimes its not just about there being an invisible tightrope though. I think many people truly believe dreams aren't possible but for a lucky few. And, of course, many people have far less fortunate circumstances to pursue what they most love. But you are so deeply inspiring and you consistently shine a bright beamlight on my deepest aspirations, the ones that eat away at me, and its really because of you that I'm returning to them! Moving to Portland was the best decision I've made in a long time because I'm swimming my way back to carving out a real nook again literally and figuratively to create and write. Thank you thank you thank you for lighting the way!

Alexandra S said...

Oh! I forgot to add that I LOVE the quote and artwork for this entry. That needs to be a card. In fact, at this point, every single one of your 52 Figments postcards could be REAL cards in real stores. !

HoBess said...

I'm so glad you've finally started your blog! (I met you in marvelousmadness.)

I was raised by parents who always did "what you're supposed to do" ... always strived to be perceived as "normal." Needless to say, dream chasing and tightrope walking were discouraged. (I love your image of the frozen lake.) So I grew to be a creative beast caged by my hunger for validation.

But feeding the creativity is what finally satiated the hunger. Isn't it funny how, when you work toward self-fulfillment you're able to give more to the people around you?

Sasha said...

Привет! Welcome online! I can’t agree more to your post about dreams. I think, from time to time we all need a friendly kick in the butt to wake up and try something new.

What about your new novel? Will you post any previews or teasers on this blog? I can’t wait to find out more.

Jim Di Bartolo said...

Beautiful entry spouse 'o mine :) !! Can't wait to read more of your entries :)

Alexandra S said...

I just checked back too to read it again- F----, you are one dynamo chickee! I love this post. Can't wait for this weekend- lots of surprises planned. (you should be planning some too- though I'll be checking your suitcase like an Israeli airport checker for mischevious items before you step hand or foot or nostril hair into my LamborFastarosa.)

megg said...

This is so inspiring! I'm at the beginning of all of that right now as you know. We are at the 'broke but leaping into our big dreams phase,' so I am going to take comfort that with a lot of work and perseverence they'll happen!! I can see my tightrope a little more clearly today thanks to you!