I look into his eyes, they are burning with excitement. I see stars shining in them. His optimism is heart-breaking. No one has done this before, he says. In his eyes, he is a winner already.
I’ve been there. So I know.
But what I know about him makes me cautious.
I know oh, so well, the path is long and the journey is not easy. Years would pass before we reach anywhere worth mention. But if the journey has to begin, one has to first get into the vehicle. Or start walking. Take baby steps. It is easy to conjure dreams; it takes a great deal of effort to make them come true. The struggle is romantic only in stories or in movies. Or in retrospective; after you’ve made your mark.
He is a dreamer, always has been. But he forgets the hard work that has to go with it. He makes excuses.
True, some of our dreams are absurd. They have to be. But what makes them remotely possible is the effort that we are willing to put into it.
Do I tell him that his dreams are too fantastic? Do I advise him to be more practical, and take one step at a time? Do I warn him about the Rejections he is going to face?
Will that destroy his motivation? Was that even the right thing to say? Or do I encourage him to keep his eyes on the distant goal so that he can work towards it? No one can ever tell which way a creative person will swing on the face of criticism. That, I know very well too.
Who was I to judge or advise? Not so long ago, I myself, bursting with excitement at my first ‘success’, was confronted with the ridicule, “Have you nothing better to do?”
I took weeks to recover.
Crushing dreams is a simple enough job. A flick of the finger, a snap, a mocking laugh, an unkind word – sometimes these are all it takes. It is up to the dreamer to find the strength to shake it off, rise from the ashes of despair, pick up the tools again and fight the constant fear of failure. And display the confidence that one does not feel.
Weighing everything in mind, taking the cautious route, I ask: Have you started working on it?
My heart sinks at his answer.
No, he says. But one of these days, I will.