I’m going to tell you about a dream I have. This is a dream that has been tucked away in my back pocket for years. I take it out intermittently to flash before others, before swiftly stashing it away. It involves combining my academic self – the high achiever, the perfectionist, the person who wants to move up through the ranks of professionalism – with my creative self. For years this raging torrent has surged away within me. The academic side is fierce, powerfully thrashing and crashing forward, while the creative side is more subtle, occasionally filtering through my life, generally though it just ripples away beneath the surface.
When I was informed recently that I would only be needed to work two days a week on my current contract, my initial response (and the usual one for me) was that of panic. My academic self was having a tantrum, screaming that it needed more, wanted more, deserved more, and peeved that it wasn’t getting it. However, on this occasion rather than to grasp, I nurtured. Rather than to force, I softened. Rather than to pull away, I became still. Rather than to resist, I loosened, and rather than to reason, I listened.
The disquiet was replaced by the beat of a reverberating drum. It had a distant, yet distinguishable, pulsing rhythm and I was being pulled closer and closer to its hypnotic beat. There was no evidence to suggest that this was the way forward, but I knew instinctively to follow its soft and honest form. With each step I took the beat became louder and steadier and my step became lighter until I could just make out the sound of a melody rising and falling. Finally, I stepped out of the fog and into the clearing and I knew exactly where I was – I was home.
When our emotions are scattered and life offers very little clarity, intuition becomes blanketed in a sea of chit chat. Within this space there is very little insight or ability to trust our ‘gut reaction’ as every decision is based on an intense reasoning process whereby the mind aches from in-depth over-analyses. Thoughts are mistaken as being true and our ability to trust ourselves and our intuitive response diminishes with every question posed – to ourselves. We forget to notice how we’re feeling and those dreams we’ve always had remain just that – dreams. We leave them in our minds rather than implement them into our lives.
“When we’re living as amateurs, we’re running away from our calling – meaning our work, our destiny, the obligation to become our truest and highest selves … Instead of composing our symphony, we create a ‘shadow symphony,’ of which we ourselves are the orchestra, the composer, and the audience. Our life becomes a shadow drama, a shadow start-up company, a shadow philanthropic venture …
“When we turn pro, the energy that once went into the Shadow novel goes into the real novel. What we once thought was real – ‘the world,’ including its epicentre, ourselves – turns out to be only a shadow. And what had seemed to be only a dream, now, the reality of our lives.”
– Steven Pressfield, The Artist and the Addict
When we listen to the sound of that reverberating drum, we listen to our intuition. In this instance, my intuition was pulling me in the direction of my dreams and asking me to create and to do what I love. For the first time I went against every ounce of my being that needed to control and have everything mapped out before me. I began to see the vision I have of working creatively with people in correctional settings as a reality and slowly, bit by bit, I have been collecting success stories from around the world and turning that dream into a reality.