“Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country.”
― Anaïs Nin
On our fourth date, after returning to town after an exhilarating spring hike to the Pinnacle in Berks County, we grabbed a bite to eat at Hometown Heroes, a local eatery that features homemade mutz (mozzarella) on salads and sandwiches. As we washed down our meals with rounds of fresh IPA, a naïve sense of trust rose in my crooked little heart, which led to a rushed confession to my new suitor: I wished to be a paid writer instead of a support staff professional at a private university.
“You could be a writer if you really wanted to. You’re just not trying hard enough.”
His deadpan response caught me off guard, and tears welled up in my eyes as I choked down a forkful of crunchy romaine. I specifically remember the sound of my munching because it was the only realistic part of what could’ve been a scene from a shitty sitcom; it seemed asinine that I was being called out like this in real life.
Thoughts raced in my head before I formulated a response; my first reaction was to flip my unfinished salad over on the checkerboard tablecloth and tell him to kindly F off.
Chomp, chomp, swallow.
No one had the right to call me a failure, and especially not this dude, whom I was already quite smitten with on many levels. As indignation suffocated my pragmatism, I ended up spouting off an impetuous diatribe about the struggle to be a decent mom while remaining focused on a challenging job, not to mention the additional stress of taking accelerated college courses to finish a degree so that I could obtain a sense of financial stability. I was putting food on the table and maintaining a 3.93 GPA while earning a salary that straddled the line of federal poverty definitions; please forgive me if I’m not trying hard enough, buddy.
My response, which was a genuine plea to gain some empathy, or at least a smidgen of understanding, was met with disdain, and this person ended up dropping me off on my front stoop, with nothing more than a slam of his car door and a bit of hairy eyeball-rolling at my outburst. I had handed him a few ounces of my heart, and he pulverized it into a lump of grey, discarded meat. I imagined it sitting in a cold Styrofoam tray, resplendent with a discount sticker, slowly rotting under the fluorescent lights at Sim’s Quality Market.
In hindsight, there was a sliver of decent intent behind his flippant remark. During the first few months of getting to know each other, we exchanged novel-length emails that were ripe with creativity, and he complimented me on my prose and verse, stating that my style was “verbose and effortless at the same time with an inventiveness that reminds me of Anthony Burgess and Lewis Carroll.” Maybe he genuinely believed that my failure at being a professional writer was due to a lack of trying; it was all just a misunderstanding, you see. Maybe he was attempting to inspire me, Yoda-style (Do or do not, there is no try….)
The Hometown Heroes scene took place three years ago; I eventually forgave my stalwart muse for his unsolicited criticisms about my life choices. We ended up in a dysfunctional yet meaningful friendship/relationship, and I continue to appreciate his presence as a reliable sounding board and a constant confidante.
Reconciliation. In the business world, the term refers to an accounting process that compares separate records to ensure accurate figures at the end of a given time period. In my personal life, reconciliation implies the constant attempt to harmonize my dreams with reality. I’d love to stay up all night and pore over drafts of Ruth & Ravel, editing the riffraff and revising clunky passages into a manageable plot.
That was my dream: to produce alluring folklore that captures the essence of my beloved fictional characters, and to eventual publish said musings into a full-length young adult novel that would be critically acclaimed, and more importantly, serve as a inspiring tale that allowed outsiders to believe in themselves.
Reality has other plans, which include a healthy night of sleep.
The alarm will sound tomorrow at exactly 5:12 am, which is when I begin my morning routine that allows me to arrive to my stable job by 6:58 am. That degree I finally earned last October has placed me in a demanding role at a bustling manufacturer company, and I am grateful for the opportunity to thrive in an inventive and dynamic environment. The cognitive load of learning the ins and outs of a new industry has taxed my working memory, as it should, according to modern psychology. Sleep is crucial to my survival and success. I’m just now understanding how detrimental my insomnia has been during the last 20 years of my life.
“Sleep is defined as a natural and reversible state of reduced responsiveness to external stimuli and relative inactivity, accompanied by a loss of consciousness. Sleep occurs in regular intervals and is homeostatically regulated, i.e., a loss or delay of sleep results in subsequently prolonged sleep. Sleep deprivation and sleep disruptions cause severe cognitive and emotional problems.”
Check out this source if you want to read more. Stay awake and keep reading, please.
“Sleep, those little slices of death — how I loathe them.”
― Edgar Allan Poe
To an insomniac, sleep is both euphoric and paralyzing. I want those extra hours of consciousness and responsiveness to pursue my cultivated ambitions.
When I finally convince myself to turn off the thoughts and dive headfirst into the reversible state of reduced responsiveness, my mind panics and retaliates. Hell no, Julie, you can’t shut this train down! We’re barreling toward breaking past the mundane, into the profound!
Dreams versus Reality: It’s a reconciliation nightmare. It’s two animals trapped in this cage called Julie. The dreams snarl from every corner of my brain, ready to rip reality a new one. Reality puts up a good fight by reminding the dreams to tame themselves.
Reconciliation, indeed. Little slices of death, in true Poe fashion. Is there a way for our dreams to finally jive with our reality? Can we call a truce and find a balance between must-do and trying-to-do? Can I enjoy the break from reality by enjoying the requisite sleep requirement that allows my brain to function at full capacity?
Let us creatives remember this: the mere existence of a new idea is the root of trying.
Throw those dreams into space like a kite…