It was a Sunday afternoon and I’d found it the rare occasion that I wanted a nap. The baby was sleeping and Wife was happily occupied, so I climbed into bed and turned the TV on to a Disney movie where Bruce Willis was visited by his childhood self. It was cute and comfortable in that Disney way, and I was soon dozing enough to want the television off.
I awoke on my side and my first thought as I looked up at the pine headboard was of severe disappointment that my dream wasn’t real. While my life is by no means painful, the realisation that I was still in this life and not in my dream wasn’t pleasant. Instead of feeling depressed or terribly bothered by this, I decided to simply revel in the thoughts and feelings that my dream had given me.
In reality, this particular Sunday afternoon was one in which we were to make that long drive North to retrieve our children from their fortnightly visitations with their less-than-noteworthy biological component and his reprehensible parents. In my dream, this was the same, only the place that we were departing from was very different. Quite simply, it was the home of our dreams. Not just the home of our dreams, but the Life of our dreams as well.
We’d pulled out of a winding dirt driveway from someplace nestled in the hills and had come down the main roads towards the city and our destination just North of it. I was driving a taller vehicle than our meagre Falcon, it felt like a Jeep Grand Cherokee or Nissan Patrol, and I had my hat on. I love my hat, as it never fails to symbolise freedom and the dream of being independently wealthy, and I was happy in my “truck” with my wife and youngest child. Even the typically stressful trip to get the kids was made quite pleasant in this context, like an average Sunday drive to town.
The sun was shining at an angle behind me and I could almost feel the warmth that it laid across the door frame and onto the dash. Certain corners brought the sunshine onto me and across the wide brim of my hat, and it felt so comfortably reassuring that I could’ve been fooled into thinking that it would never be cloudy again.
This Life, this Dream Life, is not so unattainable for us. I’ve always lived my life with the knowledge that if you want something enough, if you work for it enough, then it is always within your grasp. This Life is no different, and is within our grasp, despite the ever-present depressing crush of bills and ever-mounting debt.
“Eyes on the Prize” has been something that I’d always found too clichéd or trite to actually use in my common language, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t extremely applicable to the life I’m leading now. I’ve come to learn that thinking and dreaming of something better doesn’t actually add to the depressing awareness of where we are at now, but instead fuels the drive and ambition that it will take to actually get to that better life. I believe that, I’ve always believed that, I just get distracted sometimes and forget.
I spent the rest of the day enjoying this feeling, and was acutely aware of my calm and relaxed demeanour in a way that is pleased that it is here, but is sad in the knowledge that I’m not always this way and that, like my dream, it too will fade away and leave something less attractive behind. Like a base emotion or way of being, my stress and depression at the current state of affairs seems to be the most prevalent, and I am constantly feeling both the need to apologise for being this way and the pressure to not let things get to me the way they do.
That night, after the kids were in bed and the house was winding down, I went outside for a smoke. Even though I had taken off my hat upon returning home, I could still feel it just as strongly as the alternate reality of my dream. I looked up at the stars, winking with a dull glow in the cooling air, and could feel their true shine hidden just past the light pollution of the metropolis I was standing in the middle of. I closed my eyes and let my brain pull that shine through me, allowing the “real” nature of my feelings wind its way through my senses and consciousness. I found myself tuning out the steady blurps and roars of nearby traffic, hearing only the wind on the leaves through the trees and connecting with the movement of nature in such a way that I could tell what season it was and what the weather would be like in the next few days simply by the feeling of that breeze.
This dream, those stars, and that breeze are all things that are “real” in this life, they are what truly speak to my soul, giving me the allowance, the freedom, to actually feel like myself. That grumpy, stressed out, poverty-stricken person isn’t the “real” me any more than that muted and struggling starshine is “real” or that breeze through the trees that carries sirens and V8 engine revvings is the “real” one.
This Life, with its bills and debt, with its not-enough-coming-in vs. too-much-going-out, with its deadlines and hustle and bustle, with its moving and shaking, isn’t “real” to me. Sitting in traffic and watching others zoom in and out of cars, hurrying their way along to whatever destination surely doesn’t need them there so quickly, a question repeatedly grips my brain, “Isn’t there a better way?”
Sadly, this question is answered all too frequently by my own lack of acknowledgement of it. I get bogged down with the best of ‘em it seems, and can only find my head and dislodge it from my ass rarely and with only enough energy and force to get feelings like these documented during a rare moment of “downtime” before I get caught up in it all once again.
What’s the trick then? How does one go about their daily life, fraught with the fragility of money and its importance, and find the willpower to not be affected by it all?
I suppose this question can be answered quite simply, as most difficult questions can, with the idea that if one is doing what they are passionate about, something that truly brings them joy and fulfilment, then they need never worry about being “bogged down” in things as those things can never, will never, outweigh the good that they get from their passionate pursuits. Hence the importance of hobbies, I suppose, though in writing that I have realised, perhaps for the first time, that hobbies are all that I really want to do.
Finding a “hobby” that actually keeps the bills paid turns it into a “job” and has the potential of becoming one of those things that isn’t “real” in context of the rest of one’s life. I suppose there’s the potential of doing something that starts as a hobby that becomes something that pays the bills so well, and comes so naturally and without effort, that one can truly find the joy and passion in it despite it’s importance to one’s lifestyle.
I am a writer. I’m reasonably good at it and I enjoy doing it. It was never felt like a “job”. If I could find a way of turning that into such a substantial income that my own psyche would finally lay off its stressful distractions, then I believe that I would consider myself truly happy. I’m willing to work towards this and I believe that it can happen.
I just have no idea how.
There’s the rub, isn’t it? Isn’t that always the way?
I’m going to write a book, and just get it done. Not in an effort to get that albatross from off my neck, nor in an effort to chase that ever-elusive Life Happiness, but to simply be doing something I love, something I am passionate about.
If I can do this, if I can buckle down and commit myself to this, then who knows what will happen? Worst-case scenario is that I’ll have spent some of my time pursuing pleasure from a hobby, and the best-case… well who’s to say how far that can go?
Wish me luck.