Aspen Princess: Keeping the dream alive
The other day I was out for a hike, and the weather was swirling around me in a schizophrenic frenzy, the sun dodging in and out between fast-moving clouds, the wind coming from all directions as if unsure of where it wanted to go.
I had a very distinct feeling of being in between. Like the wind, I felt directionless.
I feel somehow unmoored. Not only am I not sure about where I’m going, I have no idea how to get there.
I don’t necessarily mean that literally. Ryan is convinced he will die in our A-frame, that we have homesteaded, found our piece of land and claimed it as our own in a much deeper sense than taking out a mortgage on the house that happens to sit on top of it.
I am always open to possibility and the idea that life can change in ways you don’t expect. Just the other day, we were talking about my collection of beach art that I acquired while living in Southern California from my dear friend Eric Segel, who does these colorful, whimsical pastels.
“Don’t get me wrong, I love the guy and everything like that, but these paintings don’t really belong in a mountain house,” Ryan said. “Maybe we should give them to your brother and he can have them in Costa Rica.”
I knew full well that my brother already had his own sizable collection of Segel art, so I shook my head. “Let’s just put them in storage. You never know, we might have a beach house someday and then we’ll want them.”
Ryan gave me that look, one eyebrow up and one eyeball open wide in a pirate’s glare. The look means, “What, are you nuts?” without having to use any actual words. It was the look of a man swallowing his words because he knows part of being married to me means letting my dreams stay alive.
I’m not saying I want to move to the beach, but I do always have this nagging feeling like the rest of my life hasn’t happened yet.
That could be an artist’s whimsy. One of the bad things about pushing 50 is taking stock of your life and realizing that your life is more than halfway over and you haven’t made all of your dreams come true, at least not yet.
It’s important to keep in perspective that I’ve been lucky enough to check off several of the boxes in the “in my wildest dreams” category and have nothing to complain about. But one of the areas I’ve been seriously lacking in is my career.
I do feel like I’m at a crossroads when it comes to my professional life.
Print journalism, my beloved newspapers and magazines, will always be my first love. It’s just that it’s getting harder and harder to sustain a career in an industry that is struggling to survive in the technological era. The hundreds of dollars I make as a freelance writer isn’t going to pay for Levi’s killer wardrobe anytime soon. And while there is some money to be made writing copy for the roster of real estate companies I’ve cultivated over the past few years, being an independent contractor is a far cry from a reliable income. Now that I’ve got a 2-foot-tall tyrant managing my daily schedule, I’m lucky if I get one full day of work in each week.
What looms and weighs on me are my dreams to become a novelist, a published author, a recognized name. I dreamed of one day going on a book tour and getting bangs and thick-framed, brightly colored glasses that I would wear to my readings. I’d maybe get hair extensions and spend a little extra cash taking care of my skin. One of my books would get made into a movie and I’d get to be on set and meet the actors and they’d consult with me on adapting my story to the screen. I’d finally get to walk the red carpet at the movie premiere and then I’d know I’ve made it.
All of this is happening right now as we speak for my close friend and mentor, Eric Blehm, whose best-selling book “Fearless” is being made into a major motion picture. Of course I am beyond happy for him, but there also is a part of me that feels defeated. Eric has worked his ass off to get where he is. “Fearless” isn’t his first book — it’s his fifth. I’ve seen him when he’s in the midst of meeting a book deadline, when his skin is pale, and he has dark circles under his eyes, and his hands shake slightly from too much caffeine. I’ve seen him when he’s in the midst of an edit, struggling with seemingly endless and impossible revisions that feel uncomfortable, like wearing your shoe on the wrong foot. And I know the work that goes into writing his books in the first place, works of nonfiction that require tremendous research I couldn’t even fathom.
The thing is, I do have almost everything I’ve always wanted, most namely a child. That child fills my heart with more love than I could have ever imagined while simultaneously draining me of energy and then some. Time has accelerated with the birth of my first and only child. I also feel obligated to focus on paid work, so I can help provide for him because yes, he needs at least three different pairs of Vans shoes. But let’s just ask the real question here: Do I even have what it takes? Have I ever really known what it means to work hard?
I guess the good news is, despite feeling overwhelmed most of the time, I know in my heart that I’m not there yet. In many ways, my journey has only just begun. Maybe I should start with an honest day’s work.
The Princess needs to get her roots done. Email your love to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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With much sorrow I heard of the passing of a good friend Bruce Berger. He was a man for all seasons, a pianist, prolific author, environmentalist, and lover of Aspen.