Archive for July, 2010

The Dream

Posted: July 18, 2010 in rhymed musings
Tags: , ,

To everyone who knows what I mean.
Don’t give it up.

THE DREAM

When I was a kid I had a dream
Though I didn’t call it that way
At times it would glimmer, at times it would gleam
But it was with me every day.

Then childhood was over, you know how it feels,
And the rest of the life began.
And somebody told me that dreams don’t pay bills
And I traded my dream for a plan.

My life is so decent,
I’m smiling because I can
But some weird emptiness grows inside
That wasn’t part of the plan.

My days were full of people and words,
And sleep often seemed like a prize.
The facets of shining in distance awards
Kept whispering, “Reach for the skies!”

The ride wasn’t always as smooth as a glide
Though life often felt like a waltz,
I found my place and I found my stride,
And I traded my plan for goals.

My life is so decent,
I’m smiling because I can
But emptiness grows inside me slowly
That wasn’t part of the plan.

Sometimes at night when time is so slow
There’s this moment when
I’m asking myself if the dream I let go
Was part of somebody’s plan?

As moments keep calmly marching away
There’s one thing I know
There will be a day I will find my way
To the dream I had years ago.

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[tweetmeme source= “unmaskd” only_single=false]When it comes to dictionaries I have mixed feelings. Sure they are very helpful when you’re looking for a definition. But in their quest to describe a concept in dry terms, they sometimes lose something important on the way. Unless, of course, we’re talking about Urban Dictionary.

Take, for example, inspiration. Let’s ignore Mirriam-Webster’s not so helpful “the quality or state of being inspired” and look at TheFreeDictionary’s entry:

Inspiration: Stimulation of the mind or emotions to a high level of feeling or activity.

Accurate, yes. But so dry. Simulation of the mind… Come on, this is inspiration we’re talking about! All of us have experienced this feeling. It’s often associated with art, but you don’t have to be an artist to know what it’s like. You just need to be a human. Remember that sudden feeling when the world changes its colors, as something inside your mind comes to life and makes you do things that seemed almost impossible a moment ago? That feeling when everything seems possible; when everything is possible. The feeling that takes you to that next level be it in singing or running, writing or cooking. Of course, the next minute it’s gone, and you’re left with all the work it has lured you into, but you can still feel its trace. Try that for a definition (actually I’m glad they don’t).

And that’s where we getting to that Aha! moment. The most interesting part about this feeling is that it’s always triggered by something that someone else has done. It could be that line you’ve read, the tune you’ve heard, that movie you’ve watched, but it’s always about someone doing something that resonates with you. I don’t know about you, but that’s the case with me. I don’t get inspired by sunsets and breathtaking canyon views. I can enjoy them, but I get inspired by people.

Now let’s take another step down that rabbit hole. Say, you’re a songwriter writing new lyrics and on the way you get inspired by a Bob Dylan’s song. Well, at some point Bob had been inspired too. His inspiration? Dylan Thomas among others. Was anyone inspiring him? Sure. Arthur Rimbaud, for example. Who, in turn was often inspired by the works of Victor Hugo. Hugo’s inspiration? Some well known names including William Shakespeare. I’m going to stop here before we trace it down to Homer reciting his verses to the Greeks (which is entirely possible).

Think about this for a moment. Doesn’t it feel like you’re a link in an ages-long chain? I don’t mean it in some touchy-feely metaphorical way. I mean it nearly literally. The song that inspired you was written by someone whose mind had received a boost of inspiration from someone else’s work. Now it’s your turn — and the moment your song is born and others hear it, they may very well receive their own inspiration boost from it. Who knows maybe that spark of creativity you’ve experienced is an echo of thoughts that were crossing Dante’s mind as he worked on his Divine Comedy. It’s almost like a genealogy tree of inspired minds. And your mind is a part of it…

I’m going to stop again, this time before it gets creepy. There’s only thing that can be even more inspirational than work of others. But that’s a topic for another post. In the meanwhile, how far can you trace your inspiration?

[tweetmeme source= “unmaskd” only_single=false]Three months and 1,300 tweets ago, my ID was the only topic most of my followers were interested in. The ideas ranged from plausible to crazy. Somewhere in the bowels of Twitter lay tweets suggesting that I’m Jim Carrey, The King, Jesus, Ashton Kutcher, Kelsey Grammer, Edward Norton and simply an ambitious nobody. All of that despite the fact that from the day one I made it clear that I was not interested in discussing my ID. Then, in the midst of conspiracy theories, one very considerate person said that she thought she knew who I was, but was concerned that voicing that theory would bring in a lot of people into the conversation. The question came in right between “Are you Tom Cruise?” and “You are Santa Claus!” tweets, so I didn’t mind. In fact I didn’t care. So she went ahead with a tweet, and so “John Mayer’s Secret Twitter Account” conspiracy was born. I’m still thankful to her for asking me that question.

Fast forward three months. The @unmaskd account has a very moderate number of followers. ID theories are gone. Unmaskd is accepted as a name. But most importantly we’re having a conversation. A conversation about things I and people who read my tweets happen to care about. Twitter or blog, 1 tweet in a week or 10 in a day, it is still a conversation of people mutually interested in each other’s opinions. That was the case until today.

Today that three-month old warning came true. A rumor published on John Mayer’s fan site has sent quite a few people in my direction. The old PR wisdom claims that no publicity is bad publicity. Some utterly bizarre questions that showed up in my feed today make me question that theory. At the same time, it was great to read many comments and tweets about my blog posts. Serious or funny, thoughtful or blurted out, they are all part of what I’m looking for here — a conversation. If you were one of the people who took time to read my thoughts and reply — thank you! If you’re one of the people who don’t have anything better to do than ask a stranger about things like their sexual preferences… well, I feel sorry for you.

Denying rumors is more futile than fighting off Borg. I’ve said more than once that I wasn’t Mayer — and look how much it helped. So I’m not doing this anymore. Instead, let’s make a couple of things clear and move on. I’m not going to disclose my ID, at least not anytime soon. It doesn’t — at least it shouldn’t — matter what sequence of characters is associated with me outside this Twitter account. What matters is that here you’re getting a real deal — my real thoughts and real feelings. If there’s one thing I promise it’s lack of bullshit. As people who’ve been reading my tweets for a while know, the whole point of being @unmaskd for me is to have zero limits on expressing my thoughts. So if you’re curious, read a post or two on my blog. Skim through the tweets. Then decide if this is interesting enough to stick around. If it is, welcome to the conversation. If it’s isn’t, thanks for stopping by. But if you’re following me, expecting to hear John Mayer’s thoughts, you’re wasting your time. For that you’re much better off following his Twitter or Tumblr account.

So many people go online pretending to be someone they are not — smarter, richer, cuter. But the best kept secret of Internet is that here you can be who you really are. And that’s why I’m here.

Having a dream is as human as eating. Perhaps even more human, for horses eat too, while androids dream of electric sheep, but that’s besides the point. We all have dreams we want to achieve one day. Or do we?

Sure, we all (mostly) want to be rich and famous and all that jazz. But is that The Dream? The one that would make you completely happy once accomplished. The one that dwarfs any other dream you have? And if this is not your Dream, than what is? Is it that house you’ve always wanted to buy? That novel you’ve always wanted to write? That guitar you’ve always wanted to master?

True to our human nature, we have more questions than answers. Spotting that dream only leads to more questions. Is this the right dream? Worse, is it attainable? What if it’s a wrong dream? What it’s an impossible-to-achieve dream? What if I spend years chasing it, only to fail, or even worse — achieve it and realize that I don’t really care?

What if– you know what, forget what-ifs. Let ‘em go. Throw them into garbage where they belong. For some reason people ask me for advice, so here’s my advice on the subject. It’s just my opinion, so take it for it’s worth. I’ll tell you what works for me.

There’s only one way to know if the dream you have is The Dream: you have to believe in it with all you heart. Well, duh, you’re likely saying now, thank you for nothing. What’s that supposed to mean? Well it means precisely that. Once you get a hold of The Dream you will know. There will be no doubt left in your mind, heart, soul or whatever it is that makes us tick. You WIll Know. If you’re not sure, if you don’t really feel right about it, if it’s something others expect you to do, but you don’t care for, if it sounds great, but doesn’t make you go “Yess!”… then more likely than not, it is not The Dream. Now, it’s fine to chase it, but you can expect some disappointment once you reach it.

And in case you do have a dream, but still don’t know if it’s The Dream, here’s a very simple test to try. Choose the pastime you enjoy the most. Not your dream, just the stuff you like to do. Watching TV, going out with friends, skying, diving, reading mysteries, woodworking… you know what it is. Now imagine not doing that activity for a year. Completely. 100%. Instead think of spending every minute of your spare time going after your dream. Next, imagine yourself still not achieving that dream 12 month from now. Making some progress, yes, but not achieving. And now.. yep, here’s the catch.. imagine yourself still being happy at that point about that choice you made a year ago. The choice to forget about your favorite pastime for 365 days to chase a dream and still not achieving it. How does it feel? If you can seriously imagine yourself being happy about that choice, you’re staring at your Dream. If you can’t, that’s not your Dream. It may be still a nice thing to after, but don’t fool yourself.

For no pastime can top the feeling of going after The Dream. Your Dream.

Having defined a tagline for my blog, I’ve discovered that a lot of things, which otherwise would be classified as random stuff, actually fit quite nicely into “What makes you tick?” Because quite a few things make me tick or at least affect that ticking.

For example, here’s a seemingly random idea that has occurred to me today. See, I don’t like fatty foods. Not because of health implications, but simply because I don’t like how they taste. That taste of dripping fat immediately makes me look for a cup of water. But I also don’t like fatty mindfood. I like lean and mean words that have some meaning and purpose. If I have to listen to or read some fatty blah-blah-blah I want to rinse my mind.

Same goes for sugar — I like it in limited quantities, but any food that is too sweet is not on my menu. I’d much rather eat something salty or spicy. Again, same with mindfood. When I hear super sweet talk I want to (and often do) ask to drop all the sugarcoating. I’d rather deal with spicy straight-to-the-point talk.

I am always up for trying some new food, no matter how weird it looks. I can’t say I really enjoyed eating those snails in China or frogs in France, but I did taste them. Same with books, movies or any other food for mind. Akutagawa’s short stories and English Patient left me equally unmoved despite all the buzz, but I surely tried.

The list goes on. I like firm fruits, not softy-squishy kind of fruits and veggies many enjoy. I don’t care for expensive food if I don’t like its taste. Oh, and I like fresh stuff. It must be easy to guess how all these preferences translate into my likes and dislikes when it comes to mindfood.

At the very beginning of the Unmaskd story, when my identity was still the dominant theme of the discussion, one of my Twitter followers (if you’re reading this you know who you are) asked me about my favorite ice cream flavor. Back then I dismissed this question as irrelevant. Now I’m not so sure. In fact, I’m sure that the connection between our food and mindfood tastes is much stronger that it may seem.

What is it like for you? Or is just me fantasizing after eating one too many sweets?