“You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.”
- Dr. Seuss.
I recently had a moment…
It was one of those moments when all the pieces of the puzzle that we call life suddenly fall into place, and for a brief instant everything that you have ever lived through begins to make sense. I was at the beach, lying on a blanket beside a girl. Her dog was excitedly climbing all over us, causing sand to stick to our sunburned skin. She was laughing hysterically, apologising on his behalf as she began throwing a stick for him to chase. I leaned towards her and planted a kiss on her shoulder, feeling something monumental shift inside my chest when she turned to meet my gaze and kiss my cheek.
I know that what I’m about to say sounds terribly clichéd, and some may even call me a hopeless romantic. But as I lay on the sand with her head resting on my stomach, I realised that I have never wanted anything in my life half as much as I want her. Sunburnt, covered in sand, and completely at the mercy of a beautiful woman, I started to think that perhaps I have been so preoccupied with chasing visions of literary success that I have misunderstood what life is really all about.
When I first started to experiment with writing at the age of seventeen I never could have anticipated the impact that my passion would have on my life. At the time, I was an idealistic teenager with a head full of stories and an ego a mile long. I told myself that I had talent, and wrongfully assumed that it would be easy to become a best seller, earn a small fortune, and find a partner who loved me as endlessly as I would love her. I didn’t think that I would spend the next ten years continuously pushing myself to think beyond my own limits, or sacrificing as much as I have in order to create.
But because there was such a startling imbalance between my heart and my head, those sacrifices that I have been forced to make were inevitable. I spent years focusing so intently on illogical delusions of grandeur that I ignored the beating of my own heart as it tried to tell me to slow down, appreciate life, and allow myself to feel love. In my ignorance and haste to be successful, I didn’t bother to understand my own emotions. As a result I have ruined relationships, missed opportunities, burned bridges, and suffered through anxiety and depression.
To put it really bluntly: I became so concerned with chasing dreams that I started to really screw up my own reality.
Yet while it would be easy to beat myself up for the mistakes that I made, I’m actually glad that I made them. Because it was the accumulation of all my past successes, failures, elations and pains that led me to that moment in time when I kissed the soft skin of a woman’s shoulder and felt the universe tell me that I was exactly where I was meant to be.
I’ve never felt anything like I did on that beach before. I’ve been in love; and there was a time when I thought that I had found the girl that I was destined to marry. But I have never experienced a moment where everything just makes sense; where all the highs and lows, the self-doubts, and the chaotic ten years caused by an impulse to write suddenly become meaningless in comparison to something as simple as a kiss, a smile, or watching a girl who takes your breath away laugh as she throws a stick for her dog to chase across the sand.
Now that I have felt it, I don’t want it to go away. I don’t want to lose the feeling that she left behind when she engraved her name in fluent cursive into my soul. And I don’t want to keep endlessly chasing dreams or falling asleep either. As I lay on the beach, I glimpsed a reality far greater than anything that I have ever dreamed of. It was a reality where I could balance the literary goals in my head with the beating of my heart; where I could write, be loved, and be happy all at once.
Life isn’t about materialistic success. It isn’t about selling millions of books, earning thousands of dollars, owning an empire, or any of that bullshit. It’s about being balanced and being happy. It’s about sharing yourself with those that you care about, learning that sometimes it’s important to listen to your heart over your head, and allowing yourself to be vulnerable enough to fall in love. Twelve months ago I never imagined that I could feel something as profound as I did on the beach. I never thought that I would find myself lying beside a girl who is so beautiful that she could alter the way that I see the world just by kissing my cheek. But I did. And I haven’t stopped smiling ever since.
So, I want to set you a challenge…
If you’re out of balance, and you’re listening to your head too much at the expense of your heart, I want you to try and make a shift. I want you to turn off the voice that drives you, slow down, and begin to understand what your heart truly beats for. I want you to stop being lead by your dreams, and start building a more beautiful, worthwhile, and rewarding reality instead. Allow yourself to feel loved, to listen to your impulses, and understand that the greatest thing you will ever do in your life is to share it with the people that you care about. If you can do that, you’ll be truly happy. I promise. Because I am.
As for the girl on the beach; her name has been written into my chest like poetry in the pages of a notebook. Whether I get my reality with her remains to be seen. But I really hope that I do. Because if something as simple as a kiss on the cheek can make me feel the way that I did, there’s no telling how magical a reality with her could truly be.