You have a dream. So you try stuff to make it happen. Because you’re new at it, a lot of the things you try, fail. Then, you feel like an idiot. Or at least I do.
Every time I start working on a dream, I jump right into that cold, deep lake of the unknown. I flail around for what feels like forever, splashing, floundering – no shore in sight and convinced I’m going to drown. Inevitably, once I’m smack-dab amid whatever I decided I wanted to do, someone who’s already been there and done that rides by. They sit there, cozy and dry in their zippy little metaphorical speed boat, and tell me I’m doing it all wrong. They tell me I’m ill-equipped, untrained, underfunded or, sometimes, just too late. At which point I feel like, yep, you guessed it, an idiot.
It turns out we're not alone.
There once was a talented sculptor who also happened to paint a little. He was asked (or commanded, really) to do a mural. It was kind of a big deal. A lot of people expected great things from him. He tried to get out of it because he was convinced he’d fail and all his friends would sneer at him (I wonder at his taste in friends, but that’s for another post). He begged the guy who commissioned him to let him out of it, but his patron wouldn’t budge.
So paint he must.
Because he was new at the mural thing, he made several rookie mistakes. Instead of simply fulfilling the reasonable request of his patron for one mural, he proposed a breathtakingly – some would say insanely – ambitious plan for several murals. He also didn’t plan much, preferring to go with the flow and figure things out on the fly. This “improvisational” approach led to a crazy amount of rework as he got new ideas that conflicted with the old images.
Instead of using a traditional painting scaffolding, he rigged up a special and ridiculously uncomfortable contraption that allowed him to be physically closer to the surface he was painting. This was not only hell on his back, it jacked up his eye-sight permanently. Finally, because he brushed the plaster on which he was painting with too much water, a layer of mold grew over his work. At this point, he went back to his patron and begged to be replaced by a “real” painter. The patron wasn’t having it. So the great sculptor/mediocre painter (at least in his mind) had to scrap all he’d done thus far and start from scratch. He was overwhelmed. He was miserable. He was convinced that when he got done, everyone would point and laugh. But he couldn’t get out of it.
What ultimately happened? Well, people didn’t laugh. They didn’t make fun of him. They didn’t even tell him all the things he did wrong. When they looked at what he had done, they gasped. Then they cried.
And then they were transported.
They still are, about 600 years after this guy almost convinced himself to quit. When this great sculptor/mediocre painter (at least in his mind) named Michelangelo got done, he had painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Idiot.
Now when I’m personally doing belly flops into that deep cold lake of the unknown, I like to remember that I’m not in it by myself. I’m surrounded by other people who are gasping, flailing and thrashing their way into the world of which they dream.
Do you have a dream? Does pursuing your dream ever make you feel like an idiot? Jump in with our merry band of dreamers-doers by sharing in the comments below! (Pay no attention to the chattering teeth and high-pitched whimpering -- we're here to help you soar!)
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Photo credits: Pixabay