Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Reaching for a Dream

For as long as I can remember, I envisioned someday being a writer. By the time I was six, I had written and illustrated my first book, entitled “Harry the Caterpillar,” a painstaking creation of marker and crayon, written on plain white paper, held together with ordinary staples and extraordinary dreams—a book in which I had absolute and unwavering confidence; it would not only be published, but would be the first of many achievements in a long and illustrious literary career.

At what point during the process of “growing up” did this closely held aspiration go by the wayside? When did I begin to lose the determination and courage to reach for this dream? This wasn’t a loss which happened all at once. I have no black and white recollection of a time in which my desire to write diverged and took different form. Instead, this future in which I had once been so certain was slowly sidelined—caught, if you will, somewhere in the gray area between the boundless possibilities of childhood and the day-to-day responsibilities of adulthood.

As an adult, even when this precious vision was recalled, there was always fear associated with it—fear of rejection, of failure, of being found wanting—which prevented any progress toward my goal. After all, my dream could not be shattered if it remained forever in the safe, achromatic, what-if landscape of the past. Yet, in never taking the first step toward becoming a writer, I have consistently denied myself the chance to see where that road could lead.

I have realized recently that my challenge lies less in being deemed by others a successful writer and more in finding the fortitude—the effortless confidence and sense of self which was once so abundant—to take that first step, to embark upon the journey towards making wistful memories reality, to put forth my very best effort, and to take pride in having done so.

Surely it would be better to take up this challenge, to grasp it with both hands and be thankful for the opportunity to do so —perhaps not achieving my ultimate goal to become a published novelist—than to never try at all. I know with certainty that I do not want to awaken one day an old woman, pondering times gone by, regretful of chances not taken and opportunities wasted. I do not wish to be that old woman, peering backwards through time, eyes clouded and memories dim with age, trying to recall a long-ago ambition, once vibrant and true, vaguely wishing I had been more self-assured and not sold myself short.

Today, I reaffirm this promise to myself: I will rediscover the audacious and intrepid child I once was and my ambitions will no longer be impeded by cowardice. I will dream and I will write.

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