Yesterday, I had conversations with 2 friends about following their dreams. The fact that the same topic came up on 2 separate occasions caused me to do some reflecting on it.
Both friends want to do something of value, something to leave a legacy behind but both have obstacles in their way. We all have obstacles to overcome and sometimes they do seem insurmountable but I think it’s important to not give up on your dreams. One of my very favorite quotes is:
“Follow your bliss.
If you do follow your bliss,
you put yourself on a kind of track
that has been there all the while waiting for you,
and the life you ought to be living
is the one you are living.
When you can see that,
you begin to meet people
who are in the field of your bliss,
and they open the doors to you.
I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid,
and doors will open
where you didn’t know they were going to be.
If you follow your bliss,
doors will open for you that wouldn’t have opened for anyone else.”
― Joseph Campbell
It’s easy to be cynical about the idea of following your dreams. It’s easy to say, yeah, but I need to earn a living, put food on the table. I don’t have the money or time. I need to knock on doors, get funding and how would I do that?
I think the answer is: If it’s what you want and need to do, then it will work. If you put your heart and soul into it and it’s important enough to you, then it will happen. You will make it work.
I also did some reflecting on my own dreams. When I was in grade 2, I decided to be a teacher. I didn’t do well in high school and almost gave up on that dream. At that time, in order to go into Arts or Science you needed to have grade 12 Math. I failed miserably in Math and only got a complete grade 12 by taking Geography, which meant that I could only go into the Education1A program but could not proceed into Arts or Science and get any further education. (They needed teachers at that time). I did the one year education program and was eventually able to proceed in Arts. I went to night school and summer school for over 10 years to get 4 more years of University education. I did it while I had 2 preschoolers at home. It wasn’t easy but with my fierce determination I was able to succeed. I taught for many years and loved it. And I enjoyed most of the classes I went to as well. But it was hard work.
After teaching for 32 years it was time to leave. I knew I would burn out if I continued. I started to take photography courses and a new dream was born. I wanted to take pictures of babies and children. How to start? There’s a lot of people out there who want to photograph babies and children. I used the same fierce determination to set up my own website, to move up in the Google ratings and to work at taking the best photographs out there. It’s something I continue to work at. I feel like I am accomplishing that dream. Photography is something that fills me. It fills me with joy and purpose. I love creating beautiful images and I love to photograph babies and interact with children.
What about a legacy I ask myself? Will I leave something of value behind?
I think that having taught about 1000 children to read is part of my legacy but more importantly, I hope that I’ve made a difference in the lives of some of those 1000 children; that I’ve listened to them and made them feel heard. That I’ve instilled a love of learning in them and made them feel good about themselves.
I’ve questioned myself on the value of photography as compared to influencing the life of a child.
I believe that capturing moments for people to look back at and remember and doing it well is a gift. To capture the innocence and beauty of a newborn, or the love between a couple on their wedding day is of immeasurable value. I think that having beautiful photographs of your children to look back on is priceless and I love creating them.
I have other dreams of what I’d like to do. I would like to write a book but am not ready to do that yet. I dream of travelling to different countries and feel like I am doing that.
What about your dreams? Are you following your heart? Are you doing what you need to do to leave a legacy behind? I would love to hear your thoughts.