“It doesn’t matter if you fall down; get the fuck back up.”
– James “Buddy” Neilsen.
This post originally came to life a few weeks ago under the title of Trust in Fear. But as the weeks progressed and I procrastinated over whether or not upload it, the premise altered and the original title seemed somewhat counterintuitive. So I sat on the idea and fumbled my way through a few redrafts until very little of the original entry remained and I finally thought fuck it, let’s just bang this out and see what happens. So without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, today we are talking about dreams.
As you are probably well aware, last month I embarked on a journey halfway around the world to pitch my heart out to the men and women who could ultimately make my dreams of becoming a published author a reality. And, if you were kind enough (or potentially bored enough) to sift through my second to last post you are probably aware that the whole process went pretty damn well. Right now my work is with a number of agencies throughout the United States, and I’m sitting on my hands awaiting a response that could potentially alter the course of my life. I have a dream of being published, and last month I took action.
I can see you rolling your eyes right about now thinking yeah, yeah. I’ve heard it all before. Your dreams don’t work unless you do, Chris. So what?
Well, maybe it was incorrect of me to say we are talking about dreams per say. Maybe I would have been better off opening with an impassioned speech about failure, because the duo really are inseparable. Just like there would be no heaven without hell, or no light without dark, there can be no dreams or success without the very real possibility of failure. And it’s because of this rather simple analogy that I have come to see everything I ever dream of as a bullet with butterfly wings…
…It sounds poetic doesn’t it? A bullet with butterfly wings; I wish I could take ownership for coining the phrase but I can’t. Close your eyes for a moment and imagine it, two big beautiful wings that unfurl into a glorious kaleidoscope of colour from a hideously dull shell casing with so much potential to maim. It’s beautiful, it’s dangerous, it’s wondrous, and macabre.
Nevertheless I’m learning that just as every cloud has a silver lining, so does every dream of beauty and success have the potential to blow up in your face. Sometimes we take risks to chase down everything we’ve ever dreamed of (like landing a book deal, snagging our dream job, finding a partner, or buying that new car), knowing that the reward if we are successful far outweighs the harm presented to us by that dull shell casing standing in our path. Sometimes we trust in fear and take a leap of faith, because if we don’t; then we’ll spend our whole lives wondering what could have been.
I recently took a leap of faith like this. I’ve taken a couple actually. The New York trip was one that went surprisingly well. But on this particular occasion I found myself attempting to capture the beauty of a bullet with butterfly wings, only for it blow up in my face. In layman’s terms: I fucked up. I took a risk and it backfired, seemingly costing me something rather incredible.
But as much as the wounds from the bullet that pierced my flesh sting right now – in fact it’s my ego that’s hurting the most. There is still always the slightest of chances that the bullet that struck you can still become something beautiful again. Sure, right now it’s damaged, but those big beautiful wings are still there just waiting to unfurl and show you magnificence beyond your wildest imagination. That’s the allure of dreams, and that’s the beauty of failure. Just because we fall, just because we fail or fuck up, it doesn’t mean that we have to give up. In life we are always afforded the opportunity to pick ourselves up off the floor, brush of the dirt that reminds us of our tumble and try again, armed with the knowledge of where we went wrong the first time.
It’s a rather warped analogy I know. But to me as I sit here and lick my wounds and learn from my mistakes, I have the chance to understand just what failure tastes like and how to better prepare myself for the next fall. If my manuscript appraisals amount to nothing and I’m left sitting in the dirt once more I will have the experience to pick myself back up and try again. Dreams only work as hard as you do. And sometimes trusting in fear and taking a leap of faith is worth it, even if you fall and all you achieve is just letting your dreams know exactly what your intentions are. Or even that they are dreams in the first place.