If there was a certification for future tripping I would not only have it, I could teach it. It was part of surviving in a small town with a major case of wanderlust. I could always escape by dreaming and scheming of a fabulous future. There is a lot to learn about who you are and would like to be from your fantasies, and it is also easy to get so hooked into trying to make them happen that you get stuck.
It’s like going on a road trip. You’ve been looking forward to it for weeks, imagining the sun roof open, the wind in your hair, and miles of deserted road and beautiful scenery. Then the day you’re supposed to leave arrives and its raining and you’re stuck in traffic. It would be easy to feel like the trip is ruined because it doesn’t look like you want. You could turn up the radio for some vehicular karaoke and use the extra time for deep meaningful conversations with your travel-mates, but chances are good instead you’ll end up grumpy the whole way.
Ideally passions and dreams kind of work like a compass. You know that you come alive when you are doing _________, and so you follow that feeling with curiosity and openness. In capitalist America, however, we love titles. Especially when it comes to work. The problem with this is that the bar for being a “real writer”, or “real musician”, or “real artist” is often set ridiculously high. When we only see the mega-successful examples in society, its super easy to a) think that we want that and b) get discouraged when we don’t get it. Still, we keep pushing, trying to make it happen because giving up feels like betraying our passion.
Personal story time. I went to see Kaleo (a moderately successful internationally touring band for those who haven’t heard of them) with Jeff this last Tuesday. Five years ago, I would have thought having the big touring van and playing for hundreds of screaming people would be THE DREAM and it probably would have made me fairly miserable. Everyone looked exhausted, the lineup was essentially just putting two up and coming artists on the same bill without considering their differing musical styles, and most of the people there had only heard the radio hits. In five years if they come back through without anything new on the radio I think they will have a much harder time filling the room.
I love what I do, and I love the way I get to do it. I love how much making relationships plays into my success. I love the adventure of meeting new people, going to small towns, being invited into folks’ communities. I love that the main people that I’m focused on pleasing are you, and not some businessman trying to make my music into a product and strip all the soul out of it. What I am doing now is perfectly suited for who I am, but if I had stayed fixated on the traditional routes of getting signed to a record label and releasing a radio hit I wouldn’t have gotten here.
True Dreams guide us towards who we want to be. They provide relief and escape when we’re stuck, and reveal our deepest longings and truths. When those dreams are being influenced by society, though, they can have the opposite effect and leave you frustrated and discouraged. Stay tuned into what makes you feel expansive and turned on, even if it takes you way off the beaten track. You may just find that there is something even better than you imagined waiting for you.