Chasing dreams is hard. If it wasn’t, there’d be more people living their dream. No matter what your dream might be, chances are you have a support system of some kind, whether it be family or friends or a combination of the two. Or something else entirely (though I’m not sure what that would be).
Whatever our dream, we work our day jobs and try to fit in time to pursue our dreams. We have families that need our attention, with maybe games to go to, holidays to go visit on, things like that. All of these interfere with our dreams, and yet, if we didn’t do them, our support system would give up on us. We’d have to go it alone.
But as hard as it is, the thing that’s puzzled me the most in life is coming across someone who claims they don’t have a dream. I don’t know, maybe it’s an arrogance on my part, or just plain ignorance. I assumed that everyone has a dream of some kind, something they want to do or be. I know there are failed dreams (how many folks go to Hollywood and fail for every Brad Pitt that makes it?), and I’ve even heard of folks who finally give up on their dream and never try to achieve it.
But to not have a dream at all?
Does that mean those of us who have dreams and are working to achieve them are unusual? And does it strike me as unusual for someone not to have dreams because I naturally gravitate to people who do?
When I was younger, my dream was to be a musician. As cliché as it sounds, I wanted to be a drummer in a rock and roll band. This was the eighties, and I was into metal. Iron Maiden, Metallica, Black Sabbath, Mötley Crüe, Ratt, as well as more obscure bands like Krokus and Kix, I loved em all. I watched videos, bought albums and CDs, went to concerts, wore the t-shirts, and blasted the stuff in my stereo, whether it be my car or barracks room. It wasn’t just metal, of course. I loved Rush, Pink Floyd, Yes, bands like that. Progressive rock was cool.
The upshot was, I wanted to be up there on the stage, under the lights. The draw for me was being in a room with that many people who all loved this stuff as much as I did. Sure, the idea of fame was good, and so was the thought of all that money. I’d really be lying if I didn’t admit to that last one. But the drive behind it was to live a dream.
Reality set in after I got married. Drum sets—especially the big double bass kits like I wanted—took up a lot of room. There’s all the toms, stands, cymbals, bags with drumsticks, keeping track of your tuning tool, all that. Add in the cost—at the time, the Pearl kit I wanted was $2500, and they’re probably twice that by now—and achieving that dream got farther and farther away. And that didn’t even count finding a group of like-minded people you could tolerate on that level.
Also, somewhere along the way, the music, as much as I still liked it, didn’t mean as much anymore. Me and my friends used to joke that we knew musicians like most guys know football players—we knew their names, what bands they’d been in, what brand of instrument they played, their strengths and weaknesses, all of that. If there’d been card decks for them like there are for sports figures, we probably woulda collected them.
But that all eventually tapered off. Part of it, I think, was the changing face of music. The groups I grew up loving fell by the wayside as so many are wont to do, some of them disappearing altogether (if you want to see somebody who never gave up on the dream, watch the documentary Anvil! The Story of Anvil. Even if you don’t like heavy metal, the tenacity of these guys—especially the lead singer—is to be admired, and I think you’ll find yourself rooting for them whatever you think of their music).
After it tapered off, I didn’t know what I wanted to be. I think I fooled myself for a while, thinking I still wanted to be a musician, but I was only giving it lip service. Slowly, the idea of being a writer—an idea I’d entertained briefly when I was a teenager—came on.
I fought against it. Writing didn’t seem as glorious as music. Where were the lights? The crowds? None of that was there. On the other hand, the idea that I could practice my craft without ever leaving home appealed to me big time. I still love to see new places, but I long ago lost the gypsy soul you need to stay on tour all or most of the time. I like being home, man.
To make a long story short, I’m finally here. I have one book published, and you can even buy it on Amazon. It hasn’t sold very well, but I’m rooted in reality: an instant bestseller woulda been great, but I didn’t expect it. On top of that, I’m working for a publishing company, which means I’m surrounded by good writers and others who love this field as much as I do. Maybe it’s not a crowd of 150,000, or a show at Madison Square Garden, but I can still hope that, if I keep plugging away at it, that huge crowd will be out there—they’ll just be sitting at home quietly reading my books instead of yelling their heads off at my concert.
I’ll take that.