I'm not talking about nighttime dreams here, but rather the dreams we experience when we want something -- when we make goals. For those of us who pursue artistic and creative endeavors, dreams of what we HOPE will happen can carry us when real life isn't quite there (or isn't even close). But...
All too often, in my own life and on the blog pages of others, I've seen how dreams can actually work against us when given too much weight. Let's start with me. In 2007 or 2008 (it doesn't really matter which one), I wrote a book. Like the books which came before it, I queried and got amazing responses. In fact, at one point, I had 18 fulls out with agents for this book. Needless to say, my dream-life took off, and I was banking on having those dreams come true. After all, it certainly appeared as if it would happen.
But it didn't. Nothing came of it -- not one thing. I was beyond discouraged. The depression and frustration I felt after crashing and burning like that sank its claws into my day-to-day life, and I could barely function. It took a long time to pull myself out of that, and since then, I handle my dreams with much more care.
This doesn't mean I don't dream at all -- of course I do. But I always remind myself that my happiness isn't dependent on whether or not those dreams come true. I know I've mentioned this here before, but this topic always brings me back to the words I heard at a wedding: if an unhappy single person gets married, he/she doesn't suddenly become a happy person. Instead, he/she simply transitions to an unhappy married person. The same is true for any dream -- so unhappy pre-published writers will not find happiness in publication. Happiness -- contentment (which is beyond happiness, as it's not dependent on circumstances) -- comes from within, from an ability to live and enjoy life's moment, whether or not dreams are being fulfilled.
This all came to mind because of a couple of posts I read on the Blue Boards where folks were encouraging another writer about a recent struggle. I love the support and encouragement I find there, but sometimes, I feel like too much emphasis is placed on finally reaching those dreams. I understand it, of course, because that's why we're a group of writers -- we all want to be published. But when I hear things like 'it's darkest before dawn', I get a little frustrated. The truth of it is (for me, which is the only truth I can attest to, no?), my writing journey has been dark for the past two years. I've been writing (because I love it), but I've gotten no positive responses to any queries. Right as I can see that my writing is maturing and growing is also when the interest level has dropped to nil. Nothing. Nada.
BUT that's where true contentment comes to play. Yes, my dreams are not even close to being fulfilled. However, I'm happy. My life is good. There are ups and downs of emotions, but overall, life is good. My dreams might never come true, no matter how hard I work or how amazing my writing becomes. But that's okay -- my contentment and happiness isn't dependent on dreams.
Side note: This also reminds me of when I was still single (in my 20s) and everyone around me was getting married (and I didn't even have a boyfriend). I had to get to the point where I was completely content with my singleness before there was even a hint of romance. I tend to believe this is true for most people (though not always about romance). When there's something we really, really want, often we have to learn how to find our happiness without it before it comes our way.
What do you think?