When It’s Dangerous to Dream

12 Nov

It’s been a while since my last post, and for good reason. First time grad student, first time full time teacher, directing a professional theater festival, directing a high school production, completing my fundraising trailer, and trying to survive. So, posting went to the wayside. Needless to say, so did acting. And that disturbed me. A lot. It’s been an interesting couple of months adjusting to all of this. I spent most of September trying not to have a nervous breakdown. And then most of October stressing out about how I’m never going to act again. Now, in November, I have come to realize the potential dangers of my Dream.

As those closest to me (and maybe readers of this blog) have heard me say a million times, I’ve wanted to act since I was 9 years old. I hold on to this moment pretty dearly. In many ways it defines me. It’s the one thing I can say I know for sure. But what if all my life I focus on this one thing and ignore all the rest? What if this one thing never gives me the financial means to live a comfortable life? What if this one thing limits me so that I am constantly striving after an ever-changing goal (what does it mean to find success in acting?) and thereby never reaching it? Well, I’d be constantly disappointed. And unhappy.

This awareness has been slowly growing these past few weeks, it’s not an easy one to realize. Do I really want to be unhappy and dissatisfied all the time? Of course not. So I must shift my focus. As my boyfriend helped me realize (as he has so patiently listened to countless long, emotional rants over these past two months) I have to see what I do have and what I am accomplishing, which, when I really think about it, is a lot! And if acting is something I must, no matter what, have in my life, then I’ll make a way to have it in my life– even if it’s not the traditional make yourself a slave to hourly submissions, CD workshops, showcases, scene study classes, postcard mailings, thousands upon thousands of dollars down the drain. Not that there’s anything wrong with that either. I might be going back to that grind soon, too. But there’s more to an artist’s life than classes and casting.

If I keep going after the dream, I’m setting myself up to be only in the future and never in the present. And since when did that philosophy ever make someone happy? So though dreams are wonderful to have, and I know I talk about them a lot– to give you that spark, the passion, the drive— they can be dangerous if they become stale. If the dream is just an excuse to never realize all that you’re accomplishing in the now. Like, on my way to getting my Masters (once a dream, now a reality); directing an incredible LGBTQ festival (once a conversation, turned into a job); completing the first draft of a play (once an idea, now a full story); finishing the fundraising trailer for my feature length screenplay (once two friends complaining about the difficulties of acting, now on our way to making work for ourselves); teaching and (hopefully) inspiring kids to go after their dreams.

So, maybe it’s time to update the dream… I think, perhaps, I am already living that dream.

2 Responses to “When It’s Dangerous to Dream”

  1. samlaffey November 12, 2012 at 11:25 am #

    Dreams, happiness, life: all are moving targets. We have to be flexible in our pursuit of all three. Not so flexible that you lose the dream or let it go, being flexible and adapting does not mean giving up. But dreams can be updated as you say, the fulfillment of them can look different next week than it looked yesterday, and the steps you take to get there can change, and go in different directions.
    But no matter what changes, you do absolutely have to take stock of all you are accomplishing, everything you are doing, rather than dwelling on what you aren’t doing. And just because you aren’t doing something right now doesn’t mean you won’t ever do that again.
    Regardless of what we said we wanted to do when we were 9, the ultimate dream that trumps all others is to be happy, no? Take stock of each thing you do: is getting my masters making me happy? is teaching making me happy? If the answer is yes, you are living the dream.


  2. Diana Rein November 12, 2012 at 1:24 pm #

    Amen sister!
    You sound like me a few months back coming to this realization.
    And here I stand with a beautiful baby in my arms, a beautiful view of the Ocean everyday ( of which I deprived myself for a long time because god forbid something happens with my acting career and I need to live in LA). Was I happy? No
    Am I happier now? A million times over!!
    Can I still act? Yes. When and if I want to because I am a creator. I don’t need a casting office to help me in that department.
    I wasted many years chasing something and as you said never being a master of the present which is oh so good! Now I get to relax into me and who I am not being something I think someone else wants me to be. I am creating through my photography and most importantly being a fulfilled and purpose filled happy Mom that can be a great example for my son. When I sing and he smiles, it’s worth more to me than I could receive singing in a stadium of thousands of people.
    Keep shining your unique light!