Will your dreams come true? The actions we take are a reflection of our priorities. It is easy to dream of a fabulous life. It is less easy to do the work to make those dreams a reality.
Yesterday, I had a double eye surgery; one surgeon fixed a macular tear in the back of my eye and another surgeon replaced my lens due to cataracts. Last night I found myself sitting in a recliner with a patch over my eye, listening to a DVD from my nutritionist and randomly holding my right leg straight out in the air for ten seconds, as prescribed by my physical therapist after my knee replacement. It must have been quite a sight. It occurred to me that I might be pitifully obsessed. When the nurse told me to go home and do absolutely nothing for the next five or six hours I almost laughed. I have not perfected the art of “doing nothing.”
After thinking about it, I decided that I might be in good company. Consider the following:
As a struggling actor and comedian, Jim Carrey used to drive his car up Mulholland Drive in the Hollywood Hills so that he could remind himself what it would feel like to make it as an actor. One night he wrote himself a check for ten million dollars “for acting services rendered.” He kept that check in his wallet for ten years. Every time he looked at it, he was reminded that his dream mattered. Despite years of rejection, he kept trying. Eventually, he earned his ten million dollars and then some.
Walt Disney had many jobs in his life. As a self-taught artist he drew caricatures and submitted cartoons to humor magazines. He was regularly rejected. He was fired as an art apprentice and made unsuccessful films. He even made films for a theater for free until finally developing the character we know as Mickey Mouse. He fought his way into film making, and later fought to make Disneyland a reality. “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible,” he once said.
Lucille Ball was considered a failed actress and a B movie flop. Her drama teachers told her to try another profession. She refused to quit and ended up laughing her way into our hearts. Carol Burnett was once turned down by every prominent producer on Broadway. She starred in a failed television show and was told she was “too loud for television.” She did not stop trying, and eventually used that loud voice and Tarzan yell on her own highly successful series, earning 25 Emmy Awards and 70 Emmy nominations.
Single mom JK Rowling wrote over 500 pages while sitting in a cafe while her baby slept. She continued to write through repeated rejections and eventually earned millions from the Harry Potter series. Stephen King was rejected over thirty times. Chicken Soup for the Soul was rejected 134 times. Madeline L’Engle won the Newbery Award for A Wrinkle In Time, a book that was rejected 26 times.
Physical challenges are no excuse to stop working on your dream. Bethany Hamilton lost her left arm in a brutal shark attack. She didn’t let that stop her; she went on to become a national champion surfer. Beethoven did not quit composing when he lost his hearing. Stephen Hawking, FDR and Helen Keller all achieved despite great physical challenges.
There is no shortage of inspirational stories about people who overcame obstacles and became successful. Perhaps our limitations inspire us to rise above mediocrity in order to reach something better. Perhaps troubling times demand that we work on something positive in order to fend off depression. There are always going to bumps in the road- the question is do we use them as a reason to turn around and get off the path or do we use them to forge ahead on a different route?
I found that I am willing to sit in a recliner, one eye blind, while learning about nutrition and doing some rehab. What about you? What have you done to keep your dreams alive in times of adversity? I’d love to hear your experienced in the comments below.