Dream big, but work hard (a bit of a ramble)

This post is inspired by this cartoon. Click on the link to read the whole thing.

Dreaming vs. Doing (from zenpencils.com)

I feel guilty, I wasn’t very productive today (well, it’ll be tomorrow when I post this) so I’m writing another blog post to hopefully make up for my slothfulness. Funny, how a post espousing hard work is written on a day when I didn’t do enough hard work! Ah well.

So, a while ago I posted a link to this comic to my Facebook Fan page, so today I thought it was a good thing to talk about.

Dream, dream, dream!

I’m all in favor of dreaming. In fact I’m trying to learn how to do more of it. I’ve been surrounded by a lot of “Debbie Downers” for too long in my life. Not that I blame them completely—no one forces you to believe the discouraging voices around you.

But anyway, I also agree with the cartoon linked above. Doing is much more important than dreaming.

But dreaming is important too. And unfortunately in this life, a lot of us are pushed away from pursuing our dreams. When I was younger I had a lot of pressure and brainwashing when it came to my dream, which was to pursue art. I had guilt over “wasting” art materials (sound familiar? I think a lot of us have this problem), always being told that art isn’t “practical,” being admonished, because art is “fun” and not “work.”

Oh, but I’m not bitter. No no! I don’t have any baggage at all, no not me! 😉

Anyway, I’ll bet my story is shared by many of you. I’ll wager that a lot of you have had it much worse than I have, in fact. We’ve had our dreams crushed and diminished, and it’s hard to try to get them back.

Dreaming is necessary

I think dreaming is necessary in order to keep going with the doing, the working, the striving. Without a dream, we get depressed and give up.

I’ve watched a few of the “Dream Big” type videos, the ones that tout “positive thinking,” some of which have a sort of metaphysical slant to them. Now I know that these videos have generated some controversy, some people love them and others think they’re total crackpot bunk. I’m not going to try to preach a sermon about whether they’re good or bad. That’s up for you to decide. There are a lot of them out there, and not all are created equal. I have my reservations about some of them, but also found some nuggets of worth within others.

One guy (Mike Dooley, seen here in a brief clip from “The Secret“) had a few tidbits of advice that I liked.

He talked about dreaming and visualizing what you want (“visualization” is a commonly suggested technique for “positive thinkers”). He also says to not dwell too much on the “hows.” He urges us to not get too hung up on how something will come about—on every step we’ll make on the way. We shouldn’t be micromanaging every little detail and obsessing over it, but instead we should think of the destination. Stick your neck out, do the stuff you’d be expected to do (in other words, WORK and DO!) and then see where it goes. Don’t think that THIS opportunity must be “the ONE” that will get you where you want to go. Just start doing ‘stuff’ that people ordinarily do when they’re working for their goal. One of things you’ll do may be “the ONE,” but maybe you don’t know to know which one.

He says that when you obsess about every step of the way, you may miss out on some other worthy path, maybe a better path, that would take you where you ultimately want to go. A path that you wouldn’t have thought to take, when you were mapping out your big PLAN ahead of time.

And I think that’s a wonderful suggestion. (Here’s a video of Dooley explaining what he means. He mentions the metaphysical—if you think that’s a bunch of bunk, be warned!)

Be open-minded and don’t limit the possibilities in your future

I think a lot of artists and folks from other careers can identify with how they had one dream when they were younger, and it morphed into something else later on (and they were happy about that!). A lot of people study art, because they “love art.” But what kind of art? I started out as an oil painter, then strayed into ceramics. I never would have anticipated developing a passion for pottery beforehand, but I was open to the opportunity when it came before me. And it turned out that I didn’t make just “pottery,” I made paintings on pottery. (Example below.)

Cowboy Plate, approx 8″ diameter, earthenware and underglazes.

Who cares if it’s on clay or on canvas? Painting is painting, right? I was getting into art galleries with my paintings on ceramics and I loved it. Now I’m back with oil painting, but my hope is to return to ceramics soon. Because ceramics is cool and I love it.

Imagine how limiting it would have been if I had told myself, “Ceramics isn’t where I want to go! I want to PAINT! No ceramics class for me!” I would have missed out on all that ceramics joy.

But you also must WORK.

I’m kind of rambling and getting off the subject here.

The zenpencils cartoon (link at top of page) shows two sets of people—the dreamers, who just talk and dream and lay on their backs and do nothing, and the worker, who works and takes classes and burns the midnight oil. Clearly of the two, the worker is the one who is going to get ahead. Dreaming with no action is just a waste.

I kind of think of the “dreamers” as the type of people who demonstrate an aptitude or “talent” for art early on, but think that “talent” is all it takes. “But I’m TALENTED!” they cry, and think that whatever artwork they produce is going to look good. Because . . . talent. See? You’re born with it, you don’t have to work at it! Yeah, right!

Many of us are born with “talent,” but mostly it’s those of us who work at it who end up going anywhere. And we don’t even have to be born with the talent! There are people who show no perceptible “talent” for something, but they have an interest in it. So they study, take classes, work hard, and see where it goes. Often they discover a hidden talent there, and then they make the most of it. They end up better off in the long run than the “talented” dreamer who assumed that talent, not effort, was enough to carry them through.

Positive Thinking is not just thinking, but doing

I sometimes don’t believe I’m much of a positive thinker—by positive thinker, I mainly mean, “optimist.” I can whine with the best of them, and get very down on myself. But I’m starting to believe that I’m not as pathetic as I sometimes assume. Because I do stick my neck out at times. For example, I started this website. What possessed me? I guess I thought it was something to do. Why not? I took ceramics classes, having no idea whether I’d be good at it or not (and I wasn’t good at it, at first). Because why not? I produce artwork that has at times really sucked. But at least I’m doing something. Why not? Eventually I’ll get better! I have faith that I will. I take classes in the hopes of improving. Because why not? Why not take that chance? Even if nothing comes of of some new thing I try (not yet, anyway), why not?

So I guess that’s just a good attitude to have. Keep working, have hope, say, “Why not?” without putting a lot of pressure on yourself that THIS thing you’re doing must be THE one thing. THIS painting MUST be good! No, maybe it won’t. Maybe the next one will! But without the one you did today, the one you do the next time wouldn’t be what it should be, because you didn’t have the experience of today’s painting. So, try again tomorrow! Keep on trying. Why not?

So in summary:

Because this blog post is too darn long already.

Work hard. Dream big! Dreams without work are useless. Work without hope (or faith, or dreams),  is no fun and you’ll probably give up. Say “Why not?” a lot and just try it! Why not?

Oh, and one last Facebook meme (I love the Facebook Memes!) from FowlLanguageComics.com.

So true, so true!


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