I’m a serial daydreamer.
When I was in elementary school, they wanted to put me on Ritalin. My mom refused–she thought it was normal behavior for kids to daydream. She told me all this many years after the fact.
I was put into a “gifted and talented” class. The only part I remember was the day we made comic strips. I remember mine was a superhero tale. After my mom told me this story, I realized that the “teacher” was in fact the guidance counselor. We weren’t so much being taught as we were being observed.
Yesterday I renamed the About section of my blog the Prologue. I like calling it the prologue because it implies that everything I’ve done up until now has been leading me to this point. And that my story is just beginning.
It got me thinking about success and failure.
I don’t think I’ve ever failed at anything I set out to do. That’s not to say my life has been one big success after another. I’ve certainly had my share of failure. In fact, I think I’ve spent too much time as a writer luxuriating in my failures, as though they were a badge of honor.
I’ve succeeded in achieving every goal I’ve committed myself to. When I set a goal–a specific goal, like making the travel hockey team when I was a kid, or losing weight to lower my blood pressure–I reach it. When I make a plan with actionable steps–like spending five weeks of my summer at hockey camp, or eliminating sugar from my diet–I reach my goal.
My wandering mind works for me. When I go through one of life’s inevitable plot twists, I can visualize what step I was on, figure out how to get back to that step, and progress toward the outcome I want.
The times I’ve failed have been the times I’ve had no purpose. Rather than visualizing the work needed to succeed, my mind imagines what the outcome will be like without having to take any steps to actually get there. And that is dangerous. More dangerous than almost anything that could go wrong. That sort of imagination breeds complacency. Which gives way to boredom.
When I’ve got nothing to guide me, I chase the mindless distractions. Then I wonder why I’m not getting everything I want. Why don’t I like what I’m working on? Why I don’t I enjoy what I’m doing? Why is she with someone else?
These are the thoughts that plague me during the low points in my life. But, if I can remember that it’s a story, then I can accept that I don’t have any of those things. And when I see someone who already has achieved what I want, I don’t have to be jealous. I can practice empathy. I can learn what steps they took to get there.
Maybe I just haven’t reached that chapter yet.