Taking Stock at the Half Century Mark

Well, I made it! I turned 50 years old this week. Yep. I’m just as surprised as anyone. Who knew I’d make it through a hard partying gypsy lifestyle in my twenties? Or loss of loved ones and having to start over in the middle? I’ve crawled my way through a high pressure job which forced many of my colleagues into a five week “rest” all while dealing with a pain in the butt disease. What kept me going?

In a word: Dreams.

Everybody needs at least one. I’ve had many in my life, but one in particular has remained a constant since the third grade. My teacher (her name escapes me) held a short story contest for the class. I won. I believe it was that moment when the storytelling bug bit me. Today – the writing dream gives me joy and fulfillment no matter the level of monetary reward or acclaim I reach. Why so Zen about it? I’ve learned from my other Dreams.

Classical Pianist – I’ve played the piano since I could reach the keys. In high school, I won contests and performed in concerts.  I was absolutely sure I wanted to be a professional classical and jazz pianist. Then I entered college. The competitive and high pressure environment came as a shock. I remember sitting at my professor’s grand piano, getting ready to play the same fraking Mozart piece again (This time you must be perfect, Cynthia!) and realizing I hated playing the piano. College and my own aspirations had sucked the joy out of music for me. What did I learn? If there’s no joy in your dream, then it becomes a nightmare. Move on.

Freelance Journalist – Enter my gypsy period. I moved around quite a bit during this dream state. After interning at a radio station and entertainment rag in college, I hit the road to freelance in Phoenix and Anchorage. Very fun period of my life. However, it kept me poor. What did I learn? Everybody’s got to eat and have rent money. Get a real Career.

Information Technology Queen – I did get a real job and it made me some damn good money. Two houses and all the great toys. I lost them all during the dot.com crash. Then my years were focused on chasing titles and following the illusion of security. What did I learn besides money can’t make you happy? Shutting off your creative self will make you miserable.

Circling back, what’s my point? No matter what dream you pursue, do it with joy and no attachment to the outcome. Don’t chase money or fame. I’ve done both. Neither matter in the end. Seek joy and fulfillment instead. And don’t forget to have fun!

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