“Figure out what your purpose is in life, what you really and truly want to do with your time and your life; then be willing to sacrifice everything and then some to achieve it. If you are not willing to make the sacrifice then keep searching.” – Quintina Ragnacci
I have had two dreams alive inside of me for as long as I can remember:
1) I want to be a writer, or, more precisely, an author, to write for myself and for others, and to make a living doing it.
2) I want to see the world.
Just another day at the office. Pokhara, Nepal.
It took me almost thirty years to realize that I would not be happy with a life in which I wasn’t working towards those dreams.
So in a process that I have painstakingly and laboriously blabbered about on this blog, I set about rearranging my life in order to pursue my dreams.
Looking back, there were times when I was racked with fear and doubt and honest-to-God concerns about my mental state. Was I insane to be unhappy with all that I had? Was I ungrateful to give it all up in order to seek out a future that held no promises?
It is an absolutely paralyzing fear that comes with committing yourself to something that exists only inside of you: a deeper truth, a greater meaning, a hunch about what life could be. Because, always, there is that doubt. What if I’m wrong?
I’m writing this now because I have received a number of emails lately from people who are in the exact spot that I was in years ago when I decided that I needed to chase my dream even if I crashed and burned. These people know that there is something essential in them that needs exploring. They don’t all know exactly what it is or looks like, only that they need to switch gears in order to learn more about the thing that tugs inside of them and that the prospect of change is terrifying.
So for those of you contemplating your own bold move I can offer only this simple advice: Try.
Try with everything you have. Not a between-the-hours-of-7 p.m.-and-10 p.m.-try but an all-the-way-try, an everything try. You have to find out for yourself if your dream is viable. You have to determine for yourself whether you are really willing to risk it all, over and over again, to bring your dream to life.
When you put your energy into your dream it will grow. You will have to eat it and breathe it and sleep next to it at night. You will have to carry it on your hip like a toddler everywhere you go. You will have to give yourself completely to it but you will be happy to do it because it is the thing that you love most of all, it is your essence, and without it you aren’t completely you.
You might have to forfeit your big paycheck and your fancy car (or your un-fancy one) for a little while or maybe even forever. You might have to work until you drop into bed each night too tired to shower. But you will be happy because you will be working on the thing that feeds you. You will fall asleep full and wake up hungry to do it all over again.
Someone asked me once, “What would you do if you knew your art would support you?” And I thought, I would do my art of course! I would give it everything because that is what it deserves.
But neither success nor failure is guaranteed. Maybe you’ll succeed, maybe you won’t, chances are you will probably do a bit of both. It’s likely that over time your ideas of success and failure will blend and blur until you cannot remember exactly how you defined them at the beginning. Life will morph and shift and grow in the most unexpected ways once you devote yourself to whatever it is you long to do.
But none of that matters right now. What matters right now is that you start. Because who will you be if you do not try?