I was having dinner with a friend the other night, testing one of your recipes in fact (see previous post Lee Hynes’ Boeuf Stroganoff), and we started talking about dreams. Of course all of you know me as a working artist. But getting here hasn’t been a straight line. I haven’t always known what I wanted to do (see previous post High Road Artist: My Story Begins). Most of us don’t.
Once I understood that I had to leave my corporate job, I began a process of deep introspection to try to figure out how I wanted to live my life. One tool I used was Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way. For those of you who don’t know, this is a working book that offers a series of exercises to unblock blocked artists. I highly recommend it. She was, in essence, helping me sift through everything—all the rubble—to get at my truth. Let me tell you, there was lots to clear away.
At one point, almost three months into the book, as I was writing my Morning Pages—a stream of consciousness exercise—I remember wondering what I’d end up doing to earn a living. Almost immediately the corresponding thought arose that what I really wanted to do was to get up every morning and paint and write. But I chased that thought away immediately, telling myself it wasn’t realistic.
A bit of a disclaimer here: Living an artist’s life is often a financial struggle. I gave a year’s notice at my job and spent that time tightening my belt and squirreling away every penny I could. I built up a savings account and added to my investments, preparing for whatever life I was entering into. Over the years I’ve done odd jobs to piece together my living. Sometimes I live on loans. Just so you know. We don’t get to jump into our dreams without some planning and preparation and, usually, sacrifice.
Anyway, throughout this period of not knowing, I toyed with other possibilities, other dreams. Dreams on the way to dreams. I’m convinced we all have quite a few within us and that there is no one path to satisfying our longings. I think whatever we find that brings us alive, that connects us to ourselves, to the universal flow, is what we’re meant to pursue in that moment. But as with everything else in life, even our dreams can shift and change. I think it’s important to be ready to let anything go. I may not always be an artist, and I’m fine with that, because I know I will be guided to the next place, the next thing, wherever and whatever they may be.
There was one dream in particular that I told Kim about over dinner that night. When I was a little girl, my great grandfather ran a tugboat on Puget Sound back in the days of tremendous logging in the northwest. Trees would be cut and run down into the bay and then tied together in huge booms like islands themselves. I don’t know what grandpa’s job was, but on days when I would go with him, he’d anchor the tug and jump out onto the logs. Carrying a big pole with a pick at the end, he walked over the booms surveying them, I suppose, while I daydreamed in the boat. There were a couple of seals he fed that followed the tug most places he went, so they were always nearby. Sometimes I’d slip out into the deep green of the bay and swim with them.
Of course these lovely memories have always stayed with me and, as I considered what I might do to earn a living, I thought of that: I’d get licensed to run a tug in the Sound! I was flooded with romantic visions of waking up early mornings on my boat, making coffee and breakfast. Fog would be rising off the bay, gulls crying… I carried this around with me for a good month, and then like a bucket of cold water tossed in my face, I snapped out of it and thought about REAL life on a tug: freezing mornings as the damp cold came up through the bottom of the boat, intensely hard work from dawn until dark, not to mention the whole permitting and licensing process, buying a boat, and building a name for myself in a competitive business. No, probably owning a tug wasn’t for me.
But as Kim and I laughed about this, he suggested that I ask all of you to share your wishes and dreams on the blog—the possibilities that tug at your heart unrealized, those that you actually pursue and live, and like my tugboat story, the ones that brought you to where you are—dreams on the way to dreams. I thought we could do it like the Reader’s Recipes posts. Write to me about your dreams in the Contact Form on the blog and I’ll read through them and post some. What do you say? We all have stories that can inspire. I’d love to share some of yours.
Love to you all,