Showing posts with label dreams. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dreams. Show all posts

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Where Am I Going?

Douglas Clark
-Head writer, The Inspiration Engine

Have you ever been working on something so long you kind of lose sight of the point of it all? It’s kind of like wondering if everything you’ve done is really leading you somewhere or perhaps every choice you’ve ever made is just some random ping pong like course you’re chaotically leading through life.

I’m going to be completely honest with you. I have six months to go before I’m 40. For a long time it didn’t make any difference to me. Most of the time, age is just a number. But the more I thought about it, and the closer it approached, I realized 40 is more than my age. On May 15th, it will mark the fact that so far, I’ve had 40 years to accomplish everything I’ve ever dreamed of.

Now that’s not to say I was on a deadline and not finishing by my 40th birthday means I failed. Actually, it reminds me of all the time I’ve wasted. You see, I like to be busy, the more I have to do, the better I can do everything (up until I burn out that is). When I’ve got all the time in the world and I don’t have to rush or worry, or even really care what the clock says, I kind of just procrastinate. 

Remember that old cliché, “If you want something done, give it to a busy person.”? Well that is me, at least where work is concerned. When it comes to my personal goals, well, I kind of slack off. You know the feeling right?

Granted, I’ve written two novels, a host of short stories and poems, and two plus years of blog posts. But in my head, I remember all the times I didn’t write, all the times I didn’t capitalize on the few minutes here and the few minutes there I could have written just a little more. Also, I think of where I’ve been, the places I’ve visited, how far I’ve advanced (or not advanced depending on your perspective) and sometimes I wonder if I’ve shortchanged myself.

Even when I failed miserably, couldn’t achieve the goal I set, got tired, etc., I usually feel like I could have done better, or if I tried again with a different approach, I could do better. I don’t think I’m a perfectionist, but I am persistent. Putting all this together, though, I still wonder, where am I going?

To put it another way, the question I’m faced with is this: How efficient have I been with my 40 years of life? Will I do better going forward?

I could have done better; I could have done worse. The reality of it is I am where I am, simple as that. As happy or dissatisfied as I am with my life thus far, I can’t change it. The only thing I can do is try to make the next 40 years, or however much more I have left better, more enjoyable, more fulfilling and fruitful.

The future has no form. It’s my job to mold my present to help make tomorrow more to my liking.

Do you know where you’re going?

Thanks for reading.

Questions and comments welcome.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

How Long is Too Long?

By Douglas Clark

Do dreams have an expiration date? How do we know if and when we have devoted more than we should to a dream not yet realized? What a terrible and practical question posed against such a wondrous and uplifting things such as a dream. I guess for me a reality check every once in a while towards my dreams is necessary. That check is a gauge in assessing just how successful I've been at reaching for that goal, or more specifically, taking stock in what I've actually done to accomplish that dream.

Specifically my dream of becoming a published writer is still up in the air. Granted, my thesis is in the University Library and I have all of my blog posts. But let's face it; that is nothing compared to my novel being published by a big name publisher like Simon & Schuster. So I'm not officially published yet. And it has taken me years to get this far. So do I give up on my dreams? What I've noticed is not so much the time it's taken but the effort to get published in that time. Fact is, I could be submitting more, I could be soliciting more advice, searching for editors, submitting more, (yes I am repeating myself) but I haven’t been doing all that. 

So no, I don't give up on my dream. I re- focus, because just writing is not enough. For any writer, writing is vital and should always take an important role, obviously. But the constant effort to market and draw attention to my work as a writer must also take center-stage. To that end I’ve started investigating self-publishing to get the ball rolling. You see, I’m trying something different. And that’s very important.

My dreams are certainly different than yours. Each dream needs to be championed or it will forever remain an unrealized Spectre. The dreamer, if he or she truly wants that dream to manifest itself, owes it to themselves to do it with vigorous abandon. You might think, “no one cares about my dreams” and you're probably right. Well almost right, You care about your dreams. So you have to be the one to nurture, care for, and champion them.

That reality check I was mentioning earlier, it's not an excuse to give up on your dreams and let them die. It's not a waste of time either. New direction and invigorated effort can be the jolt a dream needs to get going and build momentum towards a joyous day when you can say, “I did it”, and mean it. It’s the effort that counts. Langston Hughes asked, what happens to a dream deferred. Well I would say don't defer it. Champion it! Demand it! Make it happen. Don't abandon your dreams. Give them wings to fly.

Thanks for reading.

Questions and comments welcome.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Supernova Dream

by Douglas Clark

I wish there was a way to make my dreams come true. I mean an easy way. Doesn't it just seem like everything we want is always hard, involves tons of work, discipline, and determination, and takes so damned long, it makes you wonder why the hell you tried in the first place. When someone says "If it were easy, everyone would do it" or "Nothing worth doing is easy", why is that true?

I think the answer, in a word is Imagination. Life is the way it is. Nothing more, nothing less. But a human's ability to daydream, imagine the 'what ifs' and yearn for something more makes reality that much harder to simply accept. We know that things can be different, we understand that through our decisions, actions, efforts, and aspirations, we can make a difference. 

Without the recognition that we can change the world, we'd all just be worker ants, drones, the type of zombified shadows that drudge through life merely existing and not living. Without ambition and imagination, we would accomplish nothing new, and when we expired, no trace of our uniqueness would remain. 

Power, greatness, immortality, these elements make for great motivators, not just in stories, but in life. We can't have it all, and as mortal beings, we know this. But as imaginative creatures we yearn for that thing just out of reach, just over the horizon, barely possible, so that we can leave our mark on existence.

Dreams are hard because they are up against the cold harsh truth that in our reality, so very little of us remains once we are gone. And while we are here, so very much else drowns out our fragile individuality. 

Our dreams give glimpses of who we are, what we long for, and what we long to leave behind. Like mini supernovas, a dream realized is still a brief flash in the universe that nudges attention toward it, for just a moment. When you realize a dream, you tell the universe, I was here and I mattered. And it listens. 

Go nudge the universe. 

Thanks for reading.
Questions and comments are welcome. 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Think Big

by Douglas Clark

Have you ever heard anyone say “I want to get second place”, “I’m working toward being mediocre”, or “My dream is to be average”? Probably not in a serious way you haven’t. It reminds me of a commercial that’s pretty funny. Nobody consciously decides they want to be just another face in the crowd, not without giving up first. You see the thing is, most people try, experience difficulty, muddle through, and then find a certain amount of equilibrium with their environment, situation and circumstance, but then never really break through and excel beyond the status quo. This is where people become apathetic.

You can’t counteract apathy though. Think of this from a different perspective. I’m sure you’ve heard someone say “Aim High”, heck the Air Force used to use that as a tag line in their TV and radio commercials for years. Or maybe you’ve heard the saying ‘reach for the stars’, or ‘the sky’s the limit’. The common theme here is striving for something just out of reach, pushing yourself to achieve something slightly beyond your abilities or just to experience something new. What’s the point though?

The goal here is Success. Success does take an extraordinary amount of effort though, and it starts with something even more important. Thinking Big. That’s right. Putting your mind and thoughts on the right track, allowing yourself to believe what you dream is possible, and accepting the possibility that you might just be able to make all you want possible is the first step in achieving your dreams. It does not matter how you characterize or quantify success. Reaching your goals, and accomplishing your mission requires being positive. Sometimes I lean toward the negative, pessimistic side of things. When I feel that type of thing seeping into my thought process, I counter it with positive, sometimes grandiose daydreaming and proclamations. They’re designed to refocus my mindset, forcing me to accept the possibility that the great and wonderful things I want to achieve are at least thinkable, let alone possible. That’s why I still believe I’ll be a world famous writer one day.

You’ve got to want it. Thinking that you will be the best, achieve the highest goals, win the most prestigious awards, earn the most money, be the most famous; it all starts with you thinking big. Daring yourself to simply imagine the great possibilities of ‘what if’ is the first step on your journey to greatness. Take that step!

Thanks for reading
Questions and comments are welcome.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Committing to the Dream

There’s an old cliché that says “Dreams really do come true”. And if you talk to some of the people closest to me, they’ll tell you they hate it when I use clichés and generalities. I understand why they say such things, but in this case the cliché works to touch off a discussion about an issue I have been thinking about for quite some time. My thought is simple: What does it take to make a dream come true? Let me first start off by telling you that I don’t have the definitive answer to that question for you. The details of each dream dictate the course of action necessary for success and if I knew how to make every one come true, I’d be rich, famous, powerful, and living the easy life on a tropical island paradise.

Okay, so I don’t have minute specifics for you but I think I can come up with a few basics. Knowing what you really want, having a plan, a support structure, and effective guidance all sound like good elements to include in your master plan. Sprinkle in determination, persistence, resolve, and of course commitment… Oh that word Commitment. It’s the bane of many a person’s existence; the fear of it, talking about it, actually doing it. It’s enough to make any boyfriend go running for the hills (oops, I’ve fallen into a cliché again). Really though, committing to the dream is at the top of the list of things required to making a dream come true. But why?

I’ll let you in on a little secret of mine. A couple of years back, my brother and I started a very small business. We tried to sell t-shirts with whimsical, funny, and irreverent sayings and designs on them. We lacked practical business experience and knowledge as neither of us studied it in college, but we had a dream. We set out to educate ourselves on all the necessary business aspects needed to make our project a success. I even started this blog to get more attention for our website. To make a long story short, I tried to make the business work, but my effort proved insufficient. I gave it my all and still failed. Or did I give it my all? You see the most valuable lesson I learned about the whole endeavor was about commitment, although I learned the lesson far too late. At the time I didn’t recognize how uncommitted I was to the project. You know how some people live, breath, and eat totally focused on their goals? Well that wasn’t me and it negatively affected my performance in making things successful. So why couldn’t I commit? The short answer is I followed the wrong dream. You see I didn’t really know what I wanted out of my t-shirt company, so it blurred my perspective.

I guess it might be fair to say that if you can’t commit to a dream, really pour your talent, time, energy, and thought into it, that thing probably isn’t really your dream. It’s not a pleasant thing to fail, but in a way all of that might have been necessary. That experience taught me two valuable things. First, I realized I really wanted to commit to writing, something that would fulfill me professionally and creatively. Second, l learned truly committing to something meant that all my actions should reflect my efforts in achieving my goal. To put this into a different perspective, I refer back to the conversation where my brother curtly stated that I was not a writer. And what did I do in response to that statement? I wrote a novel. See that’s commitment. I know, and knew then, writing was part of my identity. I just needed a push (some might say violent shove) to solidify that perspective in my own mind. I’m not a businessman, but I am a writer.

Can you think of anything you want or wanted that ultimately proved out of reach? What kind of commitment did you devote to it? Was it really worth it? I’d say for a dream to be worthy of your total commitment it really must excite your passion, almost to the point of obsession. Don’t go crazy mind you, just let that commitment really fuel your drive for success. So, it comes down to a simple choice: are you willing to commit to your dream?

Thanks for reading.

Questions and comments are welcome. 

Friday, March 1, 2013

Dreams are Hard Work

Did you ever think for a moment that what you really wanted in life might just be too hard to get? Did you ever think it would be easier to just dream about what you want instead of actually doing all the hard work involved in actually earning it? I’ll tell you straight out, yes, I’ve thought those things. I’ve been in love with the dream of being a published, successful writer for so long, sometimes I find myself indulging in the fantasy of writing, rather than actually DOING it. I’d imagine elaborate scenarios where I’m accepting an award for an amazing piece of literature I created, or signing a multi-million dollar book deal. I’ve got a good imagination so you can assume the fantasy was pretty impressive. Now I’ve also sat and contemplated all the things involved in making those fantasies a reality. You know what it comes down to? A shit ton of hard work. That’s right. Making a dream a reality requires determination, persistence, perseverance and a lot of backbreaking, mind bendingly hard work. So, can you do it? Do you have what it takes to make your far flung dreams something real?

My answer to that question is YES. It has to be otherwise I’ve just been lying to myself all these years. I know my abilities are good enough to accomplish my goals. It’s a funny thing about dreams, though. They can help you through some really tough times but if you let them take over, or just fester, they can become an oppressive thing that weights you down instead of lifting you up. Sometimes the thing that stands in the way of your dream isn’t under your control at all. The relationship you have with your dreams can be a complex one. I think Langston Hughes’ poem, A Dream Deferred sums it up best.

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?

There are so many courses your life can take; correspondingly, your dreams can shift as well. The main point is if you don’t do anything to make those dreams a reality, they become a negative. You will become disheartened and cynical. Part of the reason achieving your dreams feels so good is because of the hard work involved. Knowing that your effort is what made that dream come true is a reward unto itself, above and beyond the dream. Realizing a dream can be fantastic, but along the way you’ll develop self-reliance and perseverance. Those are qualities that can make almost any dream a reality. So instead of day dreaming (like I used to do) get out there and do the hard work necessary to make that dream come true.

I challenge you. Recognize your one true dream. Visualize it and know that it is what you want. List all the steps needed to bring that dream into reality. Then, do it. Do it today! And tell me, what's your step one?

Thanks for reading. Questions and comments are welcome. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

What Can We Learn From Silence?

When you remove the noise and chatter of life, when you remove the distractions and supposed responsibilities, when you quiet the hustling cacophony and mind numbing drivel, what do you have?  Turn off the TV, turn off the cell phone, shut the windows, click off the radio and close the door. When you pause from your day-to-day routine and allow the silence to embrace you, let the agitation of everything fall away, let yourself relax and listen to your mind as it unwinds from the unnerving tension you constantly battle. What do you hear?

Can you relax enough to allow your deep inner voice to express itself? So often our ‘responsibilities’ get in the way of our selves. We are more than or jobs, our bills, our possessions. We are our hopes, our dreams, and our passions. Or at least we should be. Some people swear by meditation, others call it prayer; others encapsulate their mental decompression in yoga, or Tai chi. Some people just sleep. It's the release from mental oppression that those people seek, and sometimes find. That release is worth pursuing. But, too often the world demands more than we can give, and like petulant youngsters, we insist on trying to rise to that demand, not realizing that we cast away our true passions for the rat race that is today’s society.

If you were to just listen to your inner voice in that silent void you created, would it speak to you? Would you listen if it did? What if you heard that inner voice tell you a truth you didn’t want to accept or confront, would it then be something you could heed? Distractions have a way of blinding us. They take away the mind’s eye’s ability to see what is truly important. I find myself constantly reminding myself that I am in this journey of life racing only against myself. Yes, I can use others as a guide, role model, inspiration, but I desperately try not to compare myself to others. When I do, invariably I start to feel less successful, less capable, and less able. Although, sometimes I can see just how much better I’ve done than others, and it makes me feel undeservedly superior. Listening to my silent void I constantly hear one very specific thing: You can do better.

I’m not a perfectionist; I’m not a workaholic; I’m not a crazed fanatic. I see others that are so driven by one obsessive goal they forsake almost everything else for their prize. I can’t do that, but I do have goals. I’m on a mission, however. I have dreams; getting published, finding true love, financial independence, freedom to travel, gaining knowledge and enlightenment, but none of them are obsessively dominant. Some might say I’m well rounded. Am I better than those obsessively driven alpha types or are they better than me? When I sit and listen to the silence I don’t hear their voices, I don’t see their dreams, and I don’t feel their passions. I feel mine.

In the end, the silence tells me that I alone exist in my mind. Cognito ergo sum as Rene Descartes would say. That’s the beginning. Fortunately, if you listen to the silence, you might learn what direction to take next. Are you listening?

Picture credit goes to: Blue energy tornado by Juri Hahhalev,

Thanks for reading. Comments and questions are welcome?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

What’s the price of your dream?

Ocean of Dreams
Have you ever wanted something so bad that you were willing to sacrifice everything else to get it?  There are so many choices we have to make in life, sometimes it’s difficult to know what to sacrifice and what to hold on to.  Dreams can be powerful motivators in directing your life to a positive state.  However, dreams can be destructive gremlins that ruin everything else if you let them.  It’s okay to have a dream, to want it fulfilled and live the way you want to live, but it always comes at a price.  I’ve heard it said, you have to give to get.  Well I’m sure that’s true, but how much should you give, and how much should you get back?  If you haven’t realized yet, I’m talking about balance.  When your life is balanced, things make sense.  When you are off kilter, things are confusing.  So, if you have a dream and are willing to sacrifice everything else to get it, will that balance your life?  To me, the easy answer is no.

When I was in college, I wanted to graduate.  Obviously graduation represented an accomplishment and proof to the world that I achieved something extraordinary.  Graduating also meant I could get a better job.  But also, and even more important to me, were the experiences I gained while in school.  Yes it was important to get an education, it was important to have credentials and documents, but I was not willing to sacrifice everything to get it.  I read about some people who sacrifice things in advance without knowing the consequences, and it’s sad.  Was their dream to be mired in debt for life?  Of course not, but it goes to show you life can be tipped off balance easily if you don’t pay attention to details.  I worked through college just like a lot of other students.  I also knew exactly why I was there.  And, coming from a poor family, I understood the value of every dollar I earned and spent.  I had to balance my dreams with my reality. 

It’s hard to find balance sometimes.  It may be that you will have to suffer before you come to understand.  I know that’s not comforting, but it is reassuring to know if you pay attention to those details I was talking about, you will find that balance… eventually.  Following your dreams is a worthy endeavor.  Don’t stop.  Just remember that there are many paths to go down in your pursuit.  If something seems way too difficult, complex, or confusing, stop.  You don’t have to change your dream, just change the path you take to get there.  That way, you can still follow your dream without sacrificing everything else you care about to get it.  And that’s a good balance in life!

Ocean of Dreams by Josephine Wall

This amazing painting is by Josephine Wall; it's called Ocean of Dreams.  Check out her online gallery.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to reply.  Thanks for reading!

Understanding Pandemics

By Doug Clark Head Writer -  The Inspiration Engine With all that is going on with Covid 19, I thought it would be a good idea to help ...