Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Dreams And Realities

Last week I had lunch with Matt- a nice young gent full of dreams. He is an aspiring illustrator/writer/animator that is in a life and death struggle with his dreams and his reality.

He is working for a good company and making a good living to support his young wife and new child. Like many people, he is also wrestling with a dream, or maybe an aching feeling- not quite yet crystallized and clear- that he was made to do something else. He wanted to meet to bounce his ideas, sketches and stories off me to see if I thought he had anything of value buried in the dirt and rocks of what his hands and mind had created.

He let me choose the place to meet for lunch, but I insisted he pick wherever he wanted to go. God bless him- he chose Pei Wei Asian Diner. Extra-Extra Spicy Kung Pao Chicken over salad was my choice (here in Nashville, you have to say EXTRA twice to really get a decent burn going- most Asian places that serve food to an abundance of middle-Tennessee white folks think you mean ‘just a tiny bit past mild’ if you only use one).

We chatted away while eating, and about half-way through our food, the portfolio came out and we got down to business. He slid across several scripts, drawings and concepts talking me through his ideas. As he got into the details of each story and character, he started to light up. I love to be around passionate people. Creators. Dreamers. The energy and sparks fuel me and push and prod me to stir up my own dreams.

He was now fired up, moving at full speed, practically spitting steamed rice at me as he described several ideas for television shows, online comic strips, animated video series and a kids book.

I held all my thoughts, observations and questions until he was finished, making sure he knew that was what I would do for fear he would think I was disengaged. I know from experience it’s best to let creatives mind-dump without interruption. They need to pour out an amazing number of words to make sure you taste the full flavor of what they are trying to communicate. After my comments and questions, I laid out what I thought he should do next with the ideas. I am not sure he will take my advice.

I remember several years ago a young lady that worked for the same company I did. She was one of our regular receptionists that were in charge of getting executives lunches or setting up food and drink for meetings when not on desk duty. After a year or so of saying ‘hello’ or ‘have a nice weekend’ when walking in or out of the front door, I decided to get to know her. She had moved to Nashville because one of her dreams was to become a singer. The other dream was to be an actress. Singing won out, so she was taking her shot working as a receptionist for one of the top music companies in the world hoping to get discovered somehow.

After a couple years, with nothing materializing, she decided to move to LA. Just up and move there- no family or friends to support her. She had a dream, a clear vision and a plan, and by God, she was going to do it.

I last saw her three years ago while in Los Angeles on business. I had a meeting at a major studio and on my way out to my car afterwards, I ran into her, totally unexpected, in the lobby of the building. I hadn’t spoken to her since she had moved to LA and didn’t know what she was up to. She was living her dream. Her current position wasn’t much beyond her former receptionist title, but outside of the office she was an actress. She had managed to get an agent, a series of head-shots, and had landed several spots as an extra on various television shows (including Friends). She was having fun, making progress, and could see light at the end of the long office hallway.

So the question I have is- will Matt take the plunge? Will he really chase his dreams? He is between a rock and a hard place, with a wife and child to support (THE PRIORITY), currently employed with a good income and benefits (COMFORT), but leaving no time to really pursue his dreams and hone his craft (RISK AND REWARD).

That is the challenge. That is the battle we are all in- unless you happen to have landed your dream. It is an epic battle between that what we must do, and that which we dream to do.

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Anonymous said...

1. You are having waaaaay too much fun with blog design. ;-)

2. I think the question you pose here is a good one for you too since you're at a crossroads. What will YOU choose to do?

Anonymous said...

How generous of you and lucky for the dreamers who find you that you are willing to share what you know.

DigitalRich said...


1. Yes. Way too much fun. I am learning a ton though that I am applying to a couple of clients I am working with...funny how you can turn a hobby into something of greater value. Love that about life.

2. A dream has made itself clearer to me. One with great revenue potential, innovative, minimal competition, and fun to operate. The sky is opening...


Anonymous said...

Good for you!

If you need someone to cling to your heels, invest nothing, do no work, and take 50% of the profits, I'm your man!!! ;-)