Recapturing Old Dreams for Writing
I have been fortunate enough to work for the same company for the past seven years, even advancing my career in the midst of the pandemic. I’m also very fortunate that I really enjoy my job – I love the personal connection of talking to clients, the satisfaction of checking off my to-do lists for work, and the complex world of corporate actions.
So it may come as a surprise that despite my English degree and love for reading and writing, I actually work in the financial services sector. I admit this isn’t my dream job. I can’t tell a tale about how little Rachel dreamed of the day when she could work with the stock market, Microsoft Excel, and occasional client complaints. How many of us truly are seated in our dream jobs?
Too Many Dreams - One Common Theme
I’ve actually struggled with enjoying too many things. I’ve changed my dream job too many times from elementary school to middle school to high school through college and even after college. I’ve considered so many paths:
· Wildlife rehabilitator
· Sports physicist
And the stock market doesn't fit anywhere on my list. On the other hand, the interests that have always stuck with me since I was in kindergarten have been reading and writing. Recently, it even crossed my mind that if I had to give up my hobbies and interests, the ones that would hurt the most to remove from my life would be my reading and writing.
And yet, I live like these things aren’t that important. Every day after work, my impulse is to pick up my phone and scroll through Facebook or Instagram, feeding my mind on other people’s comments or dank memes.
But I have bookshelves filled with half-read books that wait to be picked up once more. I have a laptop of half-finished story ideas that wait for the day that they can fully come to life.
I don’t think I’ve truly reflected on my excess of online time until now. I was fortunate that I never had a smartphone until the end of my senior year when I was wrapping up college. For a long time, I was able to avoid the prodding temptation of having the internet constantly in my pocket.
As a “real adult,” I assumed that I would have the discipline, maturity, and time management to control my online time. But it’s occurred to me how undisciplined and unfocused I really am.
Zen in the Art of Writing
This realization hit me as I recently read Ray Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing. Bradbury, my favorite author since middle school, is recognizable by his many short stories and books, such as Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles.
Zen in the Art of Writing is compilation of Bradbury’s essays about writing. His comments about his excitement for writing about his passions and dislikes have been so inspiring to me:
“For the first thing a writer should be is—excited. He should be a thing of fevers and enthusiasms… How long has it been since you wrote a story where your real love or your real hatred somehow got onto the paper? When was the last time you dared release a cherished prejudice so it slammed the page like a lightning bolt? What are the best and the worst things in your life, and when are you going to get around to whispering or shouting them?”
It’s as if I have stepped foot in a time machine, brought back to my younger days when nothing stood in my way of my love for reading and creative writing:
I step out of the time machine, and I’m in my backyard as a child on a summer evening – the robins settling down with their dusk-time calls, frogs croaking from the stream behind the neighborhood, lightning bugs flashing here and there, up and down. I take a glass jar and sneak after the lightning bugs, first with hesitation, trying to determine their location in the air around me. But once my eyes adjust and I can spot their trail, I run! I fill my jar up with the tiny lights, and now I hold a lamp.
I’m starting to recapture my old creativity. I’m just waiting for the right time to open the jar and let it all out!
My Dream Recaptured
I’ve realized that’s where I want to be: I want to be reading and writing, I want to put stories that never existed before down onto a page. When inspiration strikes, I don’t want to just think, “Well, that’s a good idea, but I’ll get to it later.”
No! I need to stop what I’m doing, put down the phone, open a Word document or even a piece of paper, and capture that creativity before it flies away! Ideas are useless if I stop after my simple acknowledgement of them.
If I can fully recapture this creativity, maybe one day I will accomplish my dream job of being a writer. The first thing I need to do is to recognize my distractions and when they sneak in to overtake me, turn instead to what I’m truly passionate about.
Time Recapture Your Old Dreams?
So now I ask my fellow readers out there:
What do you really enjoy?
What has been your dream job?
Do you have tempting distractions that you’re prone to falling prey to?
What are little ways for you to recapture an old interest or passion?
I’m not saying that everyone is in the right place to just up and leave and “chase your dreams.” I’m not even saying that some distractions are bad. Family, chores, responsibilities – these things are important and should be maintained and balanced.
But maybe we don’t have to accept that our old dreams are just part of our pasts. Maybe we can still recapture that passion and wonder in small ways, collecting little lights in our jars until we have full lamps to finally...let free!