Living the dream — ATTENTION THIS IS A RANT… sort of!
[ DISCLAIMER: Yes I’m ranting, ranting because I am passionate about my life and the life of the people around me (my friends and family, the people most likely reading this) and yes this is just my opinion. Its an opinion piece after all. The whole point is to have a conversation about this thing I am feeling, and you are probably feeling it to, so lets talk about it! ]
People keep saying; Man, Drew you are totally living the dream! “Sure” I say, “Life’s pretty good, I cant complain” but in truth it really bothers me when someone says that to me. Bothers me for a couple reasons; First, I don’t feel like my life’s a dream, there is still hard ships and stresses, worries and concerns, all the things everyone else is dealing with. Secondly, it mostly bothers me because (and this is a BIG generalization) I feel the phrase is said to me with a tinge of resentment and unhappiness. Not unhappiness for me (I have an amazing community of friends and family that are endlessly supporting me) but unhappiness for themselves. Now I could dive into the psychology of the multitude of people that have said this dreaded phrase to me but I don’t think thats fair to them, nor really relevant to what I am trying to say here.
I want to talk about the dream part. The life is a dream part. The part where my life is some how elevated above everyone else’s, some how easier, more care free, better! Thats a perception issue.
I also want to talk about how it actually just bums me out to hear that, because it makes me feel like they aren’t completely satisfied with their lives, and that just sucks, no one should be unsatisfied or unhappy with the way in which they are living (and now I’m not professing I’ve figured out the way to salvation here but the point I’m trying to make is about self awareness and choosing your passions over societies pressures)
Call me spoiled, entitled, privileged, (A friend recently pointed out that we came from a certain social status and instead of fighting that, rejecting it, because of some assumed guilt we are “supposed” to have, its actually our right and responsibility to embrace it, take advantage of it) [I am writing more about that idea specifically and I will post it in about a week so check back at www.thecosmicdirtbag.com] call me what you want, but I manifested this life, worked hard for this life, made sacrifices for this life. Its definitely not a dream. Someones dream maybe but not mine.
To me dreams are far off, usually unreal and unachievable, fantasy. Now I am not saying that dreams cannot come true and that you shouldn’t dream about a better life, but the word dream used in the context of the phrase “living the dream” doesn’t work. As per the oxford definition; a dream is an unrealistic or self deluding fantasy or a person or thing perceived as wonderful or perfect.
Thats great, if the people saying that phrase to me, perceive my life as wonderful or perfect but its not, far from it. Maybe part of that perception is based on how I choose to share my life, both aesthetically and verbally. So if I have done a poor job of sharing an honest account of my life and the way I choose to live, I apologize. BUT (yes i’m going to use the word but right after an apology, sorry not sorry for that one!) we all do it! Whether through Instagram, Facebook, or any other outlet, we tend to share the happy moments, the beautiful moments, the fun moments. Who wants to see the hard moments, the sad moments, the stressful moments, we all have them, we all know what these are like. We have been doing this far before social media ever came about. Take a look at a family photo album or the pictures your parents or grandparents hung on the wall — not likely is there a bunch of photos of sad or stressful moments. We even do this with the way we style our homes, dress ourselves, a positive aesthetic is something everyone chooses to share. I am probably more guilty of this because I do recognize that I live a pretty beautiful life, full of wonderful experiences and love. Add to that, the fact that I am a photographer. So together I get to share and inspire people all the time, which is where I am going with all of this.
For me its about goals and desires. A goal nurtured long enough spreads into a passion, which grows into an adventure, that adventure slowly becoming a set of stories in time, recounted and relived with friends and companions new and old. I cant truly remember ever really dreaming up this life. Sure, I fantasized for a moment about owning a VW van when I was younger or about traveling the world (as most do) but the van came together with a couple google searches and a meeting at the bank. Dreams don’t happen that way, or that quickly. The rest of my life has happened not by chance or by luck, but by a desire to create it, a manifestation of my goals and passions.
And these manifestations aren’t always right. I’ve made a bunch of mistakes and had to readjust or shift gears in another direction. I learn how to live better every day.
Maybe I am living someone else’s dream. Probably quite a few peoples dreams actually. But not mine. I am living my life, fully and completely in a way that I have chosen to live it. Authentically. As authentically as I can, as honest as I can, as true to myself and my beliefs as the world and our society will allow me to, because after all I am still intwined in the system, that big bad corpro-political consumerist system we here in the western world live in.
Something I don’t do though is sit behind a desk dreaming about my 2 weeks vacation (no offence to the people that do that) or for when the day comes that I can quit my job and travel the world. Sorry dude but that day just isn’t going to come, not unless you change your lifestyle, or win the lottery. Simplify so you can live more accurately to your passions or more accurately to your desires (see how I didn’t use the word dream there, I could have, and maybe should have). If you desire something, even after you’ve dreamt about it, and desire it long enough passionately enough, it will become reality. That or work your ass off for years and years, probably more like decades and decades the way the job and housing markets are right now, and then one day, you will be (hopefully) so wealthy you can up and quit your job, and go live out those dreams. My question for you; Is doing that worth it? Is suppressing those feelings and desires worth years of unhappiness and discomfort? If you were to ask me, I’d say not likely, but maybe you are different. I am certainly not that strong willed. When I desire something, I want it quickly and thats not to say I don’t want to work for what I want, if anything I have been forced to work harder for what I want because the path I’ve chosen to walk down isn’t the path of least resistance, its unstable and unpredictable, but then again so am I, so maybe thats what attracts me to it in the first place. But either way I did it on purpose, which is more then most can say. I am free to make these decisions. I am free from the social and peer pressures of making those decisions, free from judgement, free from worry of failure or financial ruin. Free because I chose to be free of them.
Your probably thinking, yeah cool but what have you sacrificed to get to where you are. My life isn’t without sacrifice, in fact I have had to make quite a few large ones. The only difference is well that; they are just different sacrifices then most people make. I have prioritized my passions and goals, most prioritize comfort and social status. I am by no means uncomfortable but in a way or on paper certainly less comfortable then most.
Yet when I keep getting told that I am “living the dream” I cant help but think that perhaps I have reached a higher point of social status then most ever will. But really what I think it is; is a higher point of social and personal understanding. I am more in touch with myself and the community of people around me.
For example my dream is to move all my family and friends out to the west coast to live close to me, to own little cabins (that I built) all over the world and have a private plane to visit them whenever I want, basically to be wealthy to the point of never needing to make money to support myself. Thats my dream, my self deluding, perfect fantasy. But since I have never purchased a lottery ticket, and have little plans on doing so anytime soon. It will probably stay right where it is, a big fat, perfect fantasy.
My goals are far more humble and frankly realistic. And as I write this, I realize my dream isn’t very in line with how I want to continue to live my life. Its rather unauthentic to my passions and desires. I’ll likely buy a sailboat before a house, live in a foreign country before ever inhabiting an apartment in Canada. Build a house out of shipping containers and reclaimed wood before buying a house in suburbia. Spend the rest of my twenties traveling and exploring the world before ever sitting behind a desk or working a 9–5 job. (I’d be surprised if I ever do that). Buying a property only makes sense to me if I can grow food on it and through out all of that, if I cant build, capture and create; stories, objects, tools and art I will have strayed far from my passions.
But hey, all of those things might change as I age and grow, but my point is they are what I feel the most passion for and desire the most in my current state, and really thats all we have, the present moment.
So I don’t think I am living your dream, I am living an awesome life sure, (one I am overly happy and thankful to be living) but its not a privileged life (in the traditional western use of that term), its built, created and constantly being improved upon and curated. If you are envious of it, then please take the steps to live a life similar (there are multiple people lives I look to for inspiration and I would be honoured if you looked up to mine) change the way you are living now, shift your lifestyle, quit your job, sell your car, move. Change anything and everything until you are completely satisfied with the decisions you have made. Do anything but settle, do anything but conform to outside expectations, be it family, friends, social or cultural. Stay true to yourself. And better yet, ask for help, I do it all the time and its helped me endlessly.