No matter how productive we are, our time–unlike our wishful imagination–is limited. Think of all the optimistic agendas you’ve had for your day. And think of how many times life seems to have had its own agenda and has met your request with denial. I, of all people, can relate to that. I’m a newly graduated dentist with a wide array of interests, which have the nasty habit of occasional colliding with reality.
What I want to do
I want to write
Since I was a kid, I’ve always found the simple act of joining random letters into meaningful words to be magical.
I want to have time
To spend with my lovely fiancée, to hang out with friends, to go to the cinema, to sit home and read a captivating novel, enjoying all the exotic worlds it takes me to.
I want to change
By learning new languages, collecting new faces, and by traveling to a far virgin place with many mysterious stories to tell.
What I really end up doing
Every day I’d wake up at 7 AM. An hour later, I’m at my workplace in a public hospital, ready to operate on patients for six long hours. After a quick nap and a bite, my working hours in a private dental clinic begin, and some days, they might not end until past midnight.
I make lists
By the time I’m finally home, I’m too dead tired to do anything but relax. With a half asleep mind, I start making a big list of all the wonderful postponed things I’d like to do tomorrow in order to break the cycle of routine. It goes on in my dreams all night, until it’s interrupted by the 7 AM alarm, indicating the start of a new day.
Choose what to sacrifice
Like every aspiring writer, I have a dream novel that I know I’ll write someday. For a whole year, it was on the top of my list, yet day after day and list after list, it got shifted to the next day, without me actually writing a single word. It wasn’t until I came by a brilliant quote by Paulo Coelho that I felt something was terribly wrong with my life:
The first symptom of the process of our killing our dreams is the lack of time.
These are not to-do lists: these are dream burials: a sad dark place where dreams go peacefully to die.
I can’t go on living when the only fun I’m having takes place in the enclosed chambers of my mind. I have to breathe the life back into my dreams. I have to reconsider my choices.
I hate to choose. I believe it was Aristotle who once said that a tragedy is a choice between two separate paths, both of which are impossible not to take.
On the one hand, writing represents all the delights of life I’ve always craved. On the other hand, dentistry offers the potential for secure future, but with little or no hope for a change.
The subconscious conflict between what our hearts really want and what our minds are obliged to do is ongoing. For months, I was totally devastated–torn out between the fairy world of dreams and the rigidity of reality, thinking there had to be a way to ease the pain of making a choice
Last year, I was lucky to watch an interview of the late legend Ray Bradbury. He was mostly talking about his beginnings, both as a writer and a human being. I was captured by the way he talked of writing. Enthusiasm shone from his old, tired eyes, revealing the forever young soul of a child who had chosen never to let go of his dream. I remember him saying:
The things that you do should be things that you love, and things that you love should be things that you do.
There is one word to describe that: Passion.
And it is the answer.
5 unmistakable signs of passion
If passion is the key, which door does it open? Where can we find the true subject of our passion? Here are five signs:
1. You can’t stop daydreaming of what you love.
To help pass time while doing tedious work, I picture myself at my computer, pouring out all my feelings of the moment into words.
2. Anything vaguely attached what you love makes your soul sparkle.
I walk into random book or school-supplies stores just to feel the cover of newly printed books or to browse different types of pens and papers.
3. You want to know all about what you love.
The one thing I enjoy more than reading literature is figuring out how it’s formulated. I just can’t get enough of reading all the writing blogs and how-to books I can get my hands on.
4. You love to talk about what you love.
I can’t dream of a retirement job other better than being a writing coach who guides aspiring talents to success.
5. You can’t stay away from what you love without being frustrated.
To love is to dream. To be frustrated is to bear the burden of an unaccomplished dream.
Okay, it’s settled. Signs do not lie. I love to write. Now what?
What will you buy with your time?
Or as put by Mr. Hemingway’s alter ego Harry the writer puts it in The Snows of Kilimanjaro:
The world is a market in which you buy what you want, not just with money but with your time, with a lot of things. It’s an exchange: you give something and you get something back.
My novel isn’t going to write itself. If I want to be a writer in this lifetime, I have to make a choice and a sacrifice. I have to give something.
I made a decision that wasn’t warmly welcomed in my close circle of trust, a compromise of giving up half my working day and my night hours in order to develop a semi-daily writing routine. But I met all the arguments with a smile, because I knew what I was giving up.
My free time will no longer be the sole possession of my fiancée and loved ones; I’ll have more time alone, but also more tiring work, fewer hours to sleep, and, above all, a noticeably lower income. But on the other hand, I know what I’ll get in return. I’ll be living my dream.
Do you want to be a writer?
You do? But you’re afraid the choice will be just plain too hard? Well, if you just pictured life as a journey with a distinct target and no predetermined road, it won’t be too hard at all. Others will give you direction, but in the end it’s your journey.
You have to take a path of your own choosing and be prepared to face the consequences. There are no best ways, no ideal solutions, no concrete guarantees for success. We only give it our best and try, hoping that one day we’ll get where we want to go. One thing is certain: as long as you’re following your passion, it doesn’t matter where your road takes you. In the end, you will reach your destination, even if it wasn’t the one you had in mind when you set sail. In life, the reward always lies in the journey.
I choose to be a writer. What your choice will be?