I keep picking at this bone latley. This bone these forty/fifty-something year old women seem to keep on throwing to me. I’ve had some petty things said to me in the last few weeks, some anti-dream-living positivley hope-shattering remarks that have left me gnawing at this stupid bone like a mut.
Allow me to explain.
I work in a shop. It sells pretty things to pretty people in a pretty arcade… some of the perks of my day include waving at any number of “coffee crushes,” telling people they look nice, laughing at men being dragged around shopping by their lady counterparts, and smiling – and I’m pretty good at all of those things. But sometimes retail can feel like you’re being treated like the 21st Century equivelant of a cotton picker and normally that doesn’t bother me an iota, but every so often I meet some very unhappy people that seem hell bent on spreading their unhappiness – people who have given up on their dreams.
In the last two weeks I have been told by three different strangers on three separate occasions in a matter of words that I’ll never achieve my dreams. I’ve had it suggested that I’m a slacker, and been looked down upon for wanting to enjoy life.
Since when did enjoying life become a euphamism for being a good for nothin’ lazybones?
I’m an open book, no really – last year I wrote an auto biography, and because I’m an open book, I usually end up telling people about how much I love life. I share my dreams with people, not to wave the “Catherine,” banner high in the sky (NB: there is no Catherine banner, but I’m open to suggestions from graphic designers…) but because I believe in the wonderful uwravelling of the mystery of life by sharing it with one another – our hopes and dreams, and I believe that in vunerably sharing, every so often we might just stumble upon something that might just inspire someone to chase after their dreams too; and man I’d like to be someone who encourages people to grab their dreams by the balls… so to speak.
However, every so often when I share something about myself with a stranger, like how I moved to Melbourne after I finished my degree, or how I just want to “live the dream every day,” I get served up a big hefty platter of cynnicism and meanness, and I’m not a fan of cynnicism or meanness, so that particular platter leaves a sour taste in my mouth and when it happens I find myself back at that bone. Picking and picking… and picking apart my life wondering if I made the right choice to not pursue a career in in media / communications but instead pursue loving the people I got to do the final year of my degree with. Picking and wondering if maybe this writing and this music stuff really is just a “nice idea,” to occupy my youth before I settle into a real job. I start wondering if I’m actually just wasting space…and in a country like Australia with so much space… feeling like you’re wasting some is ridiculous at best.
Last week I told a woman I moved to Melbourne after I finished my degree, and Heaven forbid – said that I loved it here. Her ears pricked up at my youthful cheer, and laughing condescendingly she looked me in the eye and said “oh, that’s sweet, what was your degree in? Because I mean… you’re obviously not using it now!”
I told her that her top was forty-nine-nintey-five.
Later that day, another woman was in the shop and mentioned she was buying clothes to take to New York and, having recovered from my Ante Meridian dream-shatterer, I city-swooned and mentioned how much I hoped to some day live in New York for a few years writing and playing music and she smiled sweetley… and said “oh honey, you’ll never get there!”
I said she was probably right and asked her to send me a postcard.
Then just the other day, I was helping a lady from New Zealand… and I expect more from you New Zealand; don’t give me that tired “tall poppy,” nonsense because I think we’ve all been there and brought the tall poppy t-shirt to be honest, and when I mentioned I was really loving working in a shop and having time to write and play music, not slaving at a nine-to-five doing something I wasn’t passionate about… she smiled that same bitter sweet smile and said “oh well, you’ll work hard some day.”
I felt like I had just been handed an anthrax coated candy, but wished her all the best for the rest of her stay, and as she left, it got to me…
Have we really gotten to such a sad state of humanity, or shall I say inhumantity, that we define our one another not by what eachother dreams of; what we spend countless unpaid hours putting blood, sweat and tears into, and instead have decided to pigeon hole people by what pays their bills? Good Lord that’s narrow minded. Gosh that’s sad… that we would do that to people? But if I am to be honest with myself, I probably do it to people all the time. Have we really gotten so far from the Garden that we have forgotten just how wonderful one another is? That within each of us lies endless potenial to create and rebuild and recreate and re-dream… dare I mention, for fear of being labeled a lazy hippie, that within each of us might be the potential to change the world?
As I sit here, so desperatley wanting to bury this stupid bone I keep picking at… so desperatley wanting to not feel like I have to validate myself to complete strangers with sentiments like “sometimes I do travel journalism!!” and “I’m only twenty-two!!” I can tell you one thing I have learned in all this; I never want to be someone who tramples other peoples dreams, because my dreams probably wont be complete until everyone else is loving life in their own way too. That’s one of the bummers about this “live the dream,” business – it starts to break your heart when you hear that people aren’t living the dream; worse still that some people have forgotten that there are dreams to be lived at all.
I’ve toyed with the idea of not telling people my dreams. Of being a the dream equivalent of a hermit crab and stowing my dreams away in my shell and never sharing them with anyone. But quite frankly, I don’t know if they make shells big enough… and if they do for me, then they certainley don’t for the God I know, and after all, Elanor Roosevelt said that “the future belongs those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
Heck maybe I’ll never use my degree in a big blaring way, and maybe I’ll always work in a shop, but damn; if that’s the price to pay to skip home singing and smiling in the cold because I truly can’t believe I get to live this life, then I’ll pay it again and again – because I love to live.
And so I have these bedroom windows, and man; you should see them… and on nights like tonight, when the conditions are permitting I like to sit in ’em, because I am partial to a good old fashioned sit every now and then. I sit in one of these windows, my right foot dangling outside as my left perhces on my bedside table, and I let the icy night air in to quarrel with the warm air inside… and after some time spent making eyes at the possum in the plum tree in our front yard… I find myself looking at the stars reciting the words of all of my favourite poems in my head.
“Tree at my window, window tree…” – Robert Frost
“When you are old, and gray and full of sleep…” – William Butler Yeates
And I always, unfailingly end up with Maya Angelou…
I Keep on dying again
Veins collapse; opening
like the small fists of sleeping
Memory of old tombs
Rotting flesh and worms do
Not convince me against
The challenge. The years
And cold defeat live deep in
Lines along my face
They dull my eyes, yet
I keep on dying
Because I love to live.
So I’ll keep on dying, probably at the hands of a disgruntled forty-fifty something dream-trampler in stillettos on holiday in Melbourne, and I’ll keep on dreaming.
Because I love to live.
My God I love to live.