Skin Deep 218

Despite being born and raised in a place that had one standing stone, a river, two pubs and 150 billion blades of grass, once upon a time I had an ‘American Dream’ that included such classics as a New York apartment, two Great Danes (probably called Sapphire and Steel), and an unlimited sum of cash – no doubt to keep the previous two dreams in that list fed and watered. As time moved forward, I came to realise that New York was just another far away town that would likely be replaced by another town eventually, and no matter how hard you try, you can’t out-run yourself or your own demons. Every man should know what he’s running from and what he’s running to.

The great thing about the American Dream is that it sounds right. Having a ‘British Dream’ (or a ‘Welsh Dream’ if we’re being picky), doesn’t sound so good and nobody has a clue what such a thing would be all about. There’s nothing in that statement that you can attach to it that’s worth a damn. So, for the sake of argument, let’s use the term ‘American Dream’ and use it universally, otherwise we’ll be here forever trying to figure out if wishing there were less cars on the M1 really is a quality dream worthy of spending your time on.

The basic idea of the ‘Dream’ is to figure out what you love to do and then figure out how to get paid for doing it. Simple. I guess that underneath that simplicity is the somewhat harder task of managing the financial side of things. Contrary to popular opinion, the idea of being paid well is not to be rich, but to grant yourself freedom to do more of what you want to do. The more freedom you have the more money you’ll gather simply as a byproduct of being true to yourself.

And the great part of the American Dream is that when you get it right, it doesn’t feel like work. You don’t feel the need to take holidays, because why would you need a holiday from doing the thing you love most? Sounds incredibly all-time awesome on paper doesn’t it? But there’s a a hole in the road. At some point during this journey, you’ll be faced with the fact that what you love has become work. You’ll sit back in your chair one day and think to yourself, ‘What the hell happened? All I wanted to do was draw/ write’* (*insert lifestyle drug of choice here to to suit) – if you’re smart, you redefine whatever it was you thought you had to say and start the process all over again.

I had a good stab at my American Dream once… I missed Manhattan by a few hundred miles and found myself in Syracuse in the middle of one of the worst winters in recorded history with about $40 to my name. It was great fun and a life-changer, but not quite what I had in mind, which brings me not very directly to the point.

As I write this, Tattoo Jam is two days in the can. I thought I would take the train this year instead of driving. There are pros and cons of each; the big attraction of the train being that it saves a whole lot of time, but this is only true if you are paying attention and get on the correct train when it’s time to go home.

That’s right. Ear-buds firmly in place and sunglasses on as a precautionary measure, I jumped on a train that was at the right platform at the right time only to find some miles later that this was the one before mine that was late turning up. With a little detour that didn’t take me too far off course, I got myself headed back in the right direction but it would take a true non-attention-paying fool to do it twice, right? Switching trains at London, I found myself on one of those trains that splits up half-way along the route and sure as eggs are eggs, there I was on the wrong one. This time, miles off course.

So what did we learn this week? Following your dreams is a piece of cake so long as you’re paying attention when the train shows up…



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