Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Bitter, party of one...

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

                                                                                                  -Langston Hughs

Or does it turn you into a mean bitter bitch?

As children we all have a vision of what our lives will be. We know what we want to with absolute certainty.  Although the specifics of our vision may change, from Power Ranger to Pediatrician, the emotional foundation of our vision doesn’t usually change that much.  At their core Power Rangers and Pediatricians do the same thing-save, help, and heal.

What we learn as we age is that 6 year old dreams don’t live long in 26 year old worlds. And as hard as we may try to hold onto them, in the midst of navigating the intellectual and spiritual maze called the PURSUIT of happiness, “shit happens…”

…bills happen. Family crisis happen. Relationships happen. In short, life happens. And sometimes life throws us a curve ball that causes us to deter or defer our dreams. We think that we will get back to saving the world once we pay off some debt. Or we get another degree. We plan to get back to ourselves once the children are a certain age. Or we find the right partner. Blah blah blah...excuses to wait and procrastinate and blah some more!

In the meantime, we resolve to just get by. We get a job or find some other way to get our basic needs met and the time just passes by. Until one day we look up and we have become muted, complacent, and more often than not filled with anger and regret.

Last week, a close friend and I had a long overdue talk about negativity. I know her to be a beautiful, generous, intelligent person but lately her demeanor has been filled with a dark negativity. So much so that it’s clouding the person I know her to be. At the end of our talk we realized that her attitude had more to do with frustration that it did with real anger. She, like me, is a creative spirit. The type that is most comfortable building and creating. However, it has been a hard road trying to find an appropriate s p a c e to express her creativity. As the days pass and she is not able to harness and share those intimate parts of herself, the frustration builds.

Eventually it erupts. Goodbye, sweet nice friend. Hello mean ‘ole Black lady. Get it?

It’s interesting how many of us can relate to this scenario. We were born to create. Just think, absolutely everything in existence came from the cultivation of an idea. Notice, I said cultivation of an idea. An idea all by itself can’t do much. It’s the cultivation that gives it power. A few years ago, I saw the picture below on the Oprah show. It was taken in 1978, it depicts Bill Gates and his first Microsoft crew. Thirty years later, I typing this blog on a Microsoft product and Bill Gates is one of the wealthiest men in the world. Of course, the story of how that happened is much longer and more complicated than the space between those two sentences allows, but the simple reality of it is the same. Success requires both creativity and concentrated attention.

Builders must build and creators (human beings) must create. If we don’t it’s easy to develop an angry disposition and a bad attitude. We are angry because we feel like we wasting our lives, not living to our full potential. We have a nagging feeling that there is so much more to life than what we are experiencing, yet we feel confused about how to get more out of our lives. So it’s not just that we don’t know what to do, we have no clue how to do it once we figure it out. Enter aggravation. Make sense?

I know that its unrealistic to assume that we can all abandon the demands our everyday lives to pursue what many of us have (now) been convinced is a pipe dream. But I think it’s absolutely necessary for you to find an outlet for the creator in you. It’s true; most of us have to work. And it’s unfortunate that a lot of us don’t love what we do at work. Buuuuuut since we all love to eat it’s something we all need to accept. Ultimately, I would love to see everyone do only what makes them happy; to work only in careers that validate and celebrate them. That is definitely the goal. But while we manifest that reality, there are a few things we can do to prevent ourselves from suffering from what I call “Creative Constipation.”

1.      Express Yourself- Everyday there are like a million billion thoughts running through our minds. Only a few hundred thousand of those thoughts actually escape-either in speech or in action. So what happens to the rest???  Some of them just pass away, but others keep coming back. Have you noticed that sometimes you have the same thoughts over and over? That is happening for a reason. Pay attention to what you think and to how you feel about your thoughts. Spend some time writing about your thoughts. If you’re not a writer talk about your thoughts.—to yourself- if you need to. I wrote an article a few months ago for thefreshXpress, in it I reveal that talking to myself is one of the easiest ways for me to release stress and anxiety (and yes, I do it outloud). If you’re not a verbal/linguistic person you can express yourself in other ways. Try screaming, painting, drawing, singing. Make YouTube videos…whatever. Just find a way to get some of that million billion OUT!

2.     Separate love from money – This is a tough one. Money is a big deal for almost everybody I know. Money is the reason we stay in the job that we don’t love long after we have realized we don’t love it. We need the money. I get it. But when trying to extract or remember what it was that made you smile when you were six, money cannot be THE determining factor. As creators we must seek first to create and trust that money will follow. Because in truth money can’t really stop you from following your dreams. Four years ago, I realized I wanted to be a writer. At the time I was an executive for a large non profit (I hated it just as much as it hated me). At the time I didn’t pursue becoming a writer because I couldn’t understand how I could make money from it. It took me three years to realize that being a writer is about writing not money. A writer is, by definition someone who writes. Unpaid writers are still writers--are they not? So the next time you are thinking that you can’t do what you want to because of money, remember that money is a perk. You can do whatever you want to do. No one and nothing is stopping you. Do what you love. Do it well. Do it for free. The money will come.

3.      Volunteer- “The thing that you would do for free is your true passion.” I’m sure most of us have heard this piece of advice at one time or another. But what we weren’t told is the next step after you figure out what you would do for free…iiiiisssss to do it for free. Sounds simple I know. But we have to come to place where we are able to see that our possibilities are not limited by our pockets. If you have always wanted to work with children, you can. You may not be able to get paid for it in the beginning, but at least you will get your emotional needs met. Once your emotional needs are met and you feel that feeling of pride and accomplishment that comes after you achieve a goal, it will be easier for you to determine your next steps 

4.      Fantasize-We are big people, living in the real world. But that doesn’t mean we have to let our imaginations die with distant memories of the tooth fairy and the Easter bunny. Remember all form came from an idea (from emptyS P A C E). Everything from Nothing. Anything that we can see touch and feel came from the mind of someone. Your mind is capable of yielding great ideas as well, if you let it roam around a little. I think the all the suggestions above lend themselves to fantasy, but if you are still having a hard time concentrated fantasy may work. Sit down in a quiet place and write down what you perfect day would be. Do it for all the aspects of your life. Do one for your relationship. Do one for your career. Do one for your family. It may seem silly. But I assure you, where you can go in your mind; you can go in real life. It’s important that we take ourselves out of our everyday monotony if we ever want to change/improve our life.  Just exploring where your mind takes you in fantasy can be a powerful eye opener to the parts of your mind that have been silenced by responsibility for so long. Listen to yourself and pay attention to what you say.

5.      Do Better!-In this moment, make a commitment to bring your whole self and all of your attention to what you are currently doing for money. Begrudging your job won’t make it go away. It will only make your experience worse. So agree to be grateful for what you have.  Do the best you can at what you do. Show the universe that you are grateful for what you have and more will come.

Dreams and aspirations are a real part of our human experience. Dreams are the minds way of revealing to you all that you are capable of doing, so don’t ignore them. There is a powerful creator in each of us waiting to be expressed and released. When we neglect the creative parts ourselves we become constipated, confused, and oftentimes…pissed the **** off!. Mad at your job because you have to go to it. Mad at your stomach because it wants to eat. Mad at the people who you think have what you want, because they aren't you! Mad at your parents and friends for not undertanding. Mad at yourself for all of it. Just mad as hell...all the time! You may think that you don’t have the time, energy, or money to pursue what makes you happy. But I think you’re worth the sacrifice. How many hours, months and years have you spent doing what you should do and what was expected of you?? Now it’s time for you to do what you want to do. I hope the suggestions above help bring a little peace and purpose into your life. Because Langston hit the nail on the head when he suggested that a dream deferred….explodes.

Don’t let your unrealized dreams turn you into a walking time bitch....(I mean time bomb)!

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