Someone Else’s Dreams

There’s a girl I follow on Facebook, and read her blog. I’ve known her since she was a little girl (she’s 6 1/2 years younger than me). In the last few years she’s spent the majority of her time in foreign countries, traveling alone. Backpacking through South America for a year, riding her bike from Canada to Mexico on the west coast, and now, cycling through India, before going on to cycle most of Asia. A lithe 20 year old, bent on seeing the world. She’s off having grand adventures and I admit, I get a bit jealous.

Every time I see a new post from Shirine. I start to think how amazing what she is doing is and how not quite as amazing what I’m doing is. It’s amazing how simple and compact she’s made her life. I feel I’ve opted for (comparative) extravagance, instead of real simplicity and the power that comes from trusting other people, and yourself implicitly, having only an outline of a plan and just living life each day. Making your way through life just doing the things you love and nothing that doesn’t get you to that end goal. I’m inspired by her and wish I could do that.

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Bird above the Daintree River, Australia

And then I remember that I’ve heard very similar things from people who follow my adventures. And I realize that what I’m doing is it’s own kind of amazing. A rockstar sang me happy birthday. I travelled Australia by myself. I moved alone to Europe… twice. So it makes me happy to think that maybe others think of my adventures the way I think of Shirine’s. Happy because, in a way, we’re all able to find someone to be inspired by.

I started googling cycling blogs, thinking maybe a small trip around Oregon, or across the US. So I could take a chance and strip life down to the bare essentials. As I sat in a hostel in Cairns, a tropical storm blowing outside, thousands of miles from home thinking how much more interesting my life would be if.. if what? I followed her dreams? I’m astounded by this young woman who lives so simply. I want to find that inner tranquility that allows me to let go of the material and the pandering of the media and simply live. Live simply. But as the night and storm rolled on it hit me: the nitty gritty of what she wants is not what I want.

As much as biking through a foreign land for a year sounds like an amazing escape, it is just that, an idea, an escape. It wouldn’t be a way of life for me, as it is for her, for me it would be running and pretending to be someone else (albeit someone awesome). So as I sat on my my bed in a hostel in Cairns, reveling in my decision to upgrade to a single room for the week and wishing it wasn’t the middle of the night at home so I could call and talk to someone about just what things I should look at. I’m looking at my life wondering, what can I let go? What can I cut out to get down to the essence of who I am? What things can I give away, what things do I still need to live the life I want?

The things that made up the core of my life settled around me. Those ideas echoing through me as I continued on. friends. new opportunities. saying yes. dance. new places. kindred souls. honesty. art. being present. photography. good food. writing.

following my dreams.
and making sure they’re mine,
and not someone else’s.

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a leap of faith requires hard work and trust

I feel like I’ve travelled back in time to the summer that I didn’t get hired. Haven’t quite reached the 40 applications in 20 days, but I’ve managed 17 applications in 28 days while writing my dissertation. Unlike that summer (was it really only last summer?) I’m not looking for just any job to get me through – I’m in search of that elusive “first job”. That first job after you graduate that gets you into your career and what you want to be doing with your life. I’m trying to find that job, but as each day passes it becomes harder and harder to not give an and simply apply for ‘anything that pays’.

I’ve got my eye on four cities, London, Portland, San Francisco and Eugene. The job market is tough; jobs in the arts are even harder to come by. I know in the end though sticking to my passions and going after jobs that relate to them will be better in the long run. I’ll also be a lot happier. I might not get that* job right away, but I can work in jobs in and around that area.

Recently I sent a message to one of the daughters of Auntie J. I haven’t seen her in years, but her mom suggested that she might know of something down in the Bay Area. She said she would be glad to introduce me to people when I’m in the area and maybe I can help them out pro bono until the economy picks up and all of us working in the arts can be paid again. It requires taking a stepping stone job, having the faith (and the savings) to make the move. I may not be jumping on a plane to SFO to take her up on the offer, but she reminded me of something I had said to one of my mentors back in 2008/2009. I want to work in the arts and help them out, it means not taking the highest paying job or being the most “successful”. And it doesn’t mean that I won’t be making a trip down there in the next year.

I’m sticking to what I said so long ago, working in the arts despite the consequences. Having 2 degrees (okay, nearly having 2 degrees), and wealth of experience , I know I will find something. I look at my rapidly dwindling bank account (hey, London is expensive… and so is dancing) and see that my options are being narrowed down by the day. It may be that I find myself back in Eugene, something, in the delirium of moving to Europe the first time, I swore I would never do. But even there, I have opportunities to take. I find a job to build up stability and begin to pay back my student loans and then I use my network to find people to work for pro bono or for cheap. I keep doing what is important to me. Even when I’m wondering how exactly I’m purchasing that plane ticket back to the States, I won’t give in and get that job in fast food (something I promised myself at 16 I would never do).

All this dreaming and positive thinking won’t get me anywhere unless I back it with a lot of hard work. Opportunities are oft disguised as hard work, and that’s why I know that I won’t fail. I don’t settle and know that to afford that luxury I have to work much more than many other people. Finishing my MA, I’m taking a leap of faith on a failed economy and a government that doesn’t support the arts that the people understand the importance of the arts. More than that though, I’m taking the leap based of faith in myself and what I’ve accomplished. If you know me, I plan obsessively. I might have 3 alternative plans, but there is always at least one in the works. I know the basic course of the next few years – where I’m going and what I’m doing. After September 22nd my life is a complete unknown. The only sureties are hard work and chasing my dreams, but I’ll make it work, I always do.