Jay Schryer Rotating Header Image

Running Down A Dream

sunset photo by me

If I had known that I was going to California to die, I might have made other plans.

I was raised to be practical and responsible. Growing up, I was always the responsible one, and even though I am the youngest of my siblings, I often had to make sure they stayed out of trouble. I would come home from school, do my homework immediately, and then follow that with chores. After the work was done (and only after the work was done), I allowed myself to read or play.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. A good work ethic, and a willingness to take responsibility and get things done will take you far in life. Most doers don’t dream, and most dreamers don’t do. A dreamer who does…now that’s golden, and that’s who I was.

I’m not sure when I lost it. In the middle of writing this, I took a long break, and tried to pinpoint the moment I changed. I suppose when doesn’t matter, because I know why. Somewhere along the way, all of my dreams died.

I stopped caring about my work ethic because I stopped caring about the work I was doing. My dreams died, and they took my work ethic with them. I’ve spent most of my life as a zombie. I haven’t had any passion—any internal fire—for as long as I can remember. There was a brief flame several years ago, when music lit up my life, but that didn’t last long.

My adult life has been a series of halfhearted attempts to please others. I graduated college because it was expected of me. I started a career in non-profits to impress a woman I loved. I went to work for the Federal Government because I knew that it would please my parents. Besides, what better job for a soulless zombie than bureaucrat?

And then, one day, I realized that I hated my life.

I could have let that realization sink me into depression, but I had recently started blogging, and I had met some amazing people and learned some amazing things. One of those things was that if I didn’t like something, I had the power to change it.

I sat down, and I made a list. What kind of life did I want? What did I want my life to look like? I knew I wanted to be living in a small beach town. I wanted to be working part-time on projects I really loved, while still having enough money to cover my living expenses. I wanted to be in love with an amazing woman, and I wanted a good group of friends who were physically present in my life.

When the opportunity arose, I jumped. I took a chance, and moved to California. Like I said, if I had known that I was going there to die, I might have made other plans. And yet, die is exactly what I did.

Not literally. I didn’t physically die, but rather experienced a shedding of my old persona. All of the bits and pieces of my old life burned away, until there was nothing left except myself. It was painful, as these things often are. In fact, I experienced a world of pain and frustration. However, at the end, there was a serenity and peace that I had not felt in a long, long time. I felt like a newborn child: everything was new and exciting again, and I had a world of possibility in front of me.

So having learned the lessons I needed to learn, and clearing away all that needed to be cleared away, I left California behind. And now I find myself in a new land. A small town near the beach. A town where I am able to cover all of my living expenses quite easily, even without working at all. I have already made several friends who are physically present in my life, and even though I am not in love, it’s not as important to me as it once was. But something even better, even more magical has happened:

I’ve rediscovered my passion. My inner fire, cold for so long, has been rekindled. I find myself pursuing a dream, and doing work that sets my heart on fire and my fills my soul with purpose. I wake up eager to start working, and I often work late into the night. I’m excited about my future, and I’m loving my life.

And that makes a death in California worth every minute.

Love Always,

Jay

 

 

8 Comments

  1. Keith Smith says:

    Jay,

    Easily I can see myself in so much of what you’ve written here. Like you, I was raised to a hard worker, responsible and definitely pragmatic. I am grateful for all of that, yet I allowed those traits to smother who I really am and my dreams sat on the shelf, untouched and unused. That has changed. It has been a long road, a lot of painful “letting go” of things (especially “control”) and my journey continues. BUT, I am alive inside again! “Newborn” as you said, is a great way to describe it! I am excited about the so-called small things in life and am full-on running down the dreams! (The title of this post makes me think of Tom Petty!)

    Thank you Jay. Thank you for putting yourself out there like this, showing the real you, your vulnerabilities, your strengths and your dreams. You’ve touched this heart today.

    1. JaySchryer says:

      Thank *you* Keith. I’m glad this post touched your heart. That’s why I write—to touch hearts. Thank you for sharing your own story; you are an inspiration to so many people, myself included, with your music. I am so glad to know you, and thankful to live in a world that allowed us to connect.

      And yep..I stole the title from Tom Petty. :) I couldn’t get the song out of my head the other day, and it occurred to me that it would make a pretty good post title.

  2. Janice Lundy says:

    I really loved reading this, Jay. It’s so powerful to put our journey into words so we can see the trajectory of it more clearly. You’ve done this really well. I understand completely about being “dead” in your old life. And I also understand what joy can come when we “resurrect” ourselves from the ashes. The true self rises. :-) I am so very glad this happened to you – and that you KNOW it has. You continue to inspire me and so many others.

    And I am VERY glad you live near the beach – again! There is nothing like big water to nourish the soul. xo

    1. JaySchryer says:

      Thank you, Jan. “The true self rises”–I love this phrase! Yes, indeed. The true self rises when we release the false personas we have adopted. And yes, the big water definitely nourishes the soul. There’s just about nothing I love more than being at the beach, or out on the water.

  3. Chris Edgar says:

    That’s great to hear, Jay — I particularly liked when you said you wouldn’t have asked for the experiences you had when you moved to California, but they were essential to making you what you became nonetheless. I know that the experiences that have transformed me the most significantly have usually occurred at the time as humiliating, and have caused me to rethink many of the things I’m doing in my life, but ultimately those have been my most valuable experiences as well.

    1. JaySchryer says:

      Thanks, Chris. Also, thank you for sharing your perspective and your story re: transformational experiences. I have often found the same thing, that the experiences which changed me the most felt humiliating and debilitating at the time. I have also found that the more tightly I try to cling to a certain situation, the more painful it is when the time comes to let it go. However, just as you said, in hindsight those become the most valuable experiences because you learn the most about yourself, and do the most growing.

  4. I really enjoyed reading this. A lot of young adults go through the same thing. I didn’t “die” until I was 33, when I met my husband and decided it was cool to be with someone that I didn’t have to fix. I mean mentally; I’m not talking about neutering. :)

    I look forward to reading more.

    1. JaySchryer says:

      Thank you, Lisa. I’m glad you enjoyed this post. I look forward to hearing more of your insights!