The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you.— David Foster Wallace
This post is dedicated to you as much as it is dedicated to myself.
We need your voice. We need your perspective. We need your stories. We need your dreams–not in your head, but here, among us, where we can see them too; we want to dream your dreams.
But to get them out, you need to work hard. No one you admire got to where they got by taking an elevator to the top. They all worked hard. You need to show up.
You also need courage. You need courage to keep working when success is far from guaranteed, when no one is looking. You need courage to keep working despite the people who tell you that is not worth your effort, that it’s not going to work–despite even the voices from within you that say that this is too risky or uncomfortable. You need courage to fight the instincts to run back to the herd, to run to your safe space and never come back because the specter of failure is too frightening.
And what’s the secret to have courage? Love. You need to love your dreams so much that you would be willing to face the most terrible of all monsters–the Truth. The Truth telling you that you have relegated your dreams, that you have not written the first word of your novel. The Truth will show us that, contrary to the lie we’ve been telling ourselves our whole life, our dreams do matter. The Truth will tell you that the world needs your dreams and that you have not been working on them, that you have more time every day than you admit, that you’ve been selfish, hoarding your dreams.
You’ve been looking outside for validation, but what you need the most, love, comes from within. Only love from within will keep you going when nobody’s looking. Only love will keep you going when everybody else got bored, or cold, and went back home.
You’ve been brainwashed into believing that love happens, when in fact, love is cultivated. Love must be cultivated every day, at every step, in every decision. Breath in, breath out. Love, like courage, is the result of everyday discipline. But we choose to ignore the Truth and wait for The Big Test. We fool ourselves pretending that we’re waiting for something big enough to be worthy of our love and courage, we fool ourselves so that we can ignore that we have traded our sense of self for a cubicle and a wage.
You’ve been paying more attention to the circus outside; you’ve been, perhaps, playing the informed citizen game, at the expense of the inside voice, at the expense of the Truth. The country doesn’t need your attention. The country–the world!–needs your presence. We need you to show up; we need your song. It’s long road, we need to start today.
Do you remember your dreams as a kid? As a teenager?
One evening, I went to bed after reading Beckett’s More Pricks Than Kicks very intensely for four hours. I woke up in the middle of the night gasping for air not fully awake, emerging from a quicksand of vivid dreams. I was feeling an overdose of satisfaction.
Ten years later, I was taking a nap. I had left the radio on and it woke me up with All The Children by Stanley Jordan. The sound was loud and more dense than anything I had heard before. The music was flooding my mind. What I didn’t realize was that my senses would not have been capable of such extraordinary perception. A few seconds later I woke up again, this time for real. I had just dreamed the most amazing music ever played.
The things I’m most competent in, they don’t inspire this kind of dreams. It’s a scary place to be, but an opportunity for growth, full of possibilities.