When it comes to aspirations, it’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen. What’s your next step?
You know, I got all excited about this prompt until I realized that part of what I’ve been trying to do for the last few days, and throughout this month-long exercise, is make a concentrated effort not to dwell so much on this question.
I’ve been an action-aspiration-making-dreams-happen kind of person for the majority of my thus-far-short little life. They haven’t always been big dreams (I did, for example, want to be a gas station attendant during the summer of my eighth year, mostly because I really liked the smell of unleaded), but sometimes the sheer small-ness of the dreams meant that they were that much easier to map. It was easier, in some ways, to make the idea of a degree at UVic happen, as would not have been the case if I’d dreamed of an undergraduate career at Oxford. (But then, a postgraduate career at the U. of St. Andrews is no small thing, and somehow that happened, too.) Anyway, what I suppose I’m trying to say is that I’ve never felt like my dreams were undoable, the way that I sometimes feel when I fantasize about traveling around the world, the burden of my student loans and other debt suddenly obliterated, vanished, gone.
My dad has a great saying about this. First something’s a dream. Then it’s a goal. And then, if you work hard enough, it becomes a reality. My parents, for example, have recently moved into a beautiful new house in rural southwestern Ontario. Five years ago, they had to sell the house in which I grew up — they’d built that house, too, and the plan all along had been to retire in that house and have the grandkids run among the trees. But that didn’t happen. Instead, they sold the house, rented for a while, and bought a beautiful piece of property along the river. Then they waited a while longer, being patient, stashing money away, and finally built the house last year. My dad says that THIS house, as much as he and my mother still miss the house in which they raised their children, feels more suited to them than any other dwelling in which they’ve lived. And so — first there was the dream of a new house, and then there was the patience to see it come about and the willingness to work towards the goal of a new house, and now here they are, snug for the winter in a brand new house that was created and designed just for them. Now it’s their reality.
I have always tried to do this, and be like them, on some level. I saw things that I wanted and I figured out ways that I could make things work. Inspiration and hard work always went hand in hand. And then last year happened, and inspiration dried up, and so I was shuttled into the new year not really knowing what my next dream was going to be, or exactly what the actions were that would inch me closer to said dream. And for the last few days, I’ve been luxuriating in the freedom of not knowing. Quite content to let my daily life fall into a sleep-eat-write-walk-dog-eat-write-sleep kind of routine.
But of course, this kind of life can’t last forever. It won’t last forever. Luxuriating in the not-knowing is itself a kind of step, and in a funny way is probably the reality of that dream that I had, way back at the beginning of last year, when I was overworked and screaming out for some time to just sit still and be. But beyond this not knowing, there will be other things to do, other things to figure out. Can’t hurt to toss some mini-steps out into the universe right now. This is supposed to be the freelance year, right? And so, the step-by-step map for such a course of action(s) might look something like this:
1) Get the debt figured out (appointment for this scheduled for tomorrow)
2) Finish the revisions on the novel (tentative mid-February deadline)
3) Polish up some portfolio pieces and submit to magazines (beginning circa February1)
4) Start thinking seriously about where to move/live next (obviously going on right now, but need to really truly seriously think about this as of April 1, if I haven’t moved on before then)
Things don’t sound too bad when I put it all into point form as above. It’s a mini-map to the grander plan. The dream: a self-sufficient writer’s life (I was going to say somewhere but heck, Amanda, let’s just go with what your heart is pleading and say yes, in Montréal). The goal: to be there, in some way, shape, or form, by the end of the year.
The reality … it will come. All of these little steps will mean something bigger, eventually.