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Mark Allen
Director , Screenwriter , Composer
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Dreams Can Be Burdens

Just some late night thoughts inspired by a conversation with a friend.

Dreams can be burdens.  

I'm not talking about the dreams you have when you sleep - though I probably will in a future blog.  I'm talking about the dreams you have about your life.

This will not be a popular view, but I think it's worth sharing.  In the middle ages in most parts of the world - there was no encouragement to have large aspirations.  You could not rise from a peasant and become a king - it was not possible, so it was not considered.

Today this is possible.  Anyone seemingly can become rich or famous or powerful or all of those.  I think this is one of the most appealing aspects of our society which has caused the world slowly but surely adopt the concept of the "American Dream" - rags to riches.

But this is my concern.  I live in Los Angeles (which is the same as "Hollywood" in this context).  It is the media capital of the world.  It is filled with people with aspirations to act, direct, write, sing, or in some way shine.  What's more surprising is that many of these people are really incredible beings.  Smart, charismatic, multifaceted, often beautiful - these people are so often truly remarkable.  And sadly, their lives are totally wasted.

How many brilliant actor/writers do I know or have I met who work one or two jobs way below their capacity level because it matches their schedule to leave them tim to audition or write or whatever.  You might think, "Well they're not that talented probably."  You'd be amazed at the talent that is here and remains undiscovered.

So what does this have to do with dreaming?

Dreaming is nothing without action.  Pursuing.  If you are embarking on a path with a dream, you had better really believe in it and risk everything and honor that dream.  Anything at all that holds you back will be the thing which stops you.

Imagine you're on a plane that has one tank of gas.  You're traveling to a distant island that is your dream.  Do you believe that this tank of gas will get you there?

Most people travel nearly half way and realize - they still don't see the dream island - so they figure they had better turn back around and head back home.  Now they've spent all their lives traveling and arrived right back where they started where as the people who remained behind did all kinds of wonderful things.

Some people travel beyond half way - then lose faith and try to get back home with only 1/4 a tank of gas for a 3/4 tank flight.  They crash and never make it back home.

It takes a full tank of gas to get to that island.  And by the time you land - that tank is empty and you had better have the skills to land that plane or it was all for nothing.

A friend of mine recently told me she decided to not be an actress.  I have watched her in the last few years really come into a great personality and I really wanted her to succeed.  However, I think she should stop and I think she'll have a better life for it.  I know so many people who continue to struggle year after year and are not happy - but as much as they want their goals - they refuse to let go of the extra weight which holds them back.  They're always on the edge of turning that plane around.

If your dream is not the thing around which your life revolves - whether it be in the entertainment  industry or international business or law or whatever that difficult task is - if it is not the thing that really makes you tick - a dream can trap you and rob you of a happy life.

So if you have a dream... not a hobby... but a dream... not a fondness of something or a interest in something - but a dream... you need to make a decision.  Will you pursue that dream all the way beyond the point of no return or will you let it go and lead a happy life?

So if you have a dream.  Stop dreaming and start acting on it and whenever you feel yourself wavering... remember that the minute you veer off course, you're tank of gas will no longer take you there.

And good luck.

over 14 years ago 0 likes  35 comments  0 shares
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The first four comments here are really glorious because they are from totally different life perspectives. Also - they make me want to clarify something: A hobby is something you enjoy doing; a dream is something you are not happy unless you are identified as someone who does that. You are not dreaming to sing, you are dreaming to be a singer. You can sing whenever you like - but the dream is to be identified as a singer. Patrick - I totally agree that the journey is what matters - but the journey I am watching people take is a miserable one as they follow their dreams, but never quite commit fully. About a year ago a guy I knew came to me to review his reel - his DREAM was to be a visual effects artist. I watched his reel. It was miserable. I asked him if he wanted my honnest thoughts and he said yes. I then broke it down for him. I told him why he was totally unhireable at the moment and that either he was going to have to lose his ego - go to school - get a mentor - or do something to change his work process. Obviously he was disappointed. Six months later I heard he got a job somewhere. I was surprised and questioned whether my advice was just being mean or was bad. A year after that I got the story that after talking to me, he went to another friend who had always been nothing but supportive... so he had never criticized. However this time, going there after talking to me, he actually asked what he could do and this long time friend of his worked with him - became his mentor and completely changed his attitude and they invented a new reel for him. Why had he not done this before? He thought being supportive was to cheer someone on only. This relates in the sense that this guy was not enjoying the journey because his "plane" was vearing and unclearly charted. He is on a better path now and may get there. Pay special note to when I say "when you finally arrive your skills better be in tact for that landing." You have time to gain your skills, use it. Pongza - so much... first... not all agencies are bad. Agents have a function for managing aspects of a business artists can usually not. Their 10% cut is for their service. Do not confuse that with the kind of managers who are not bound by Agency laws and whom do totally fleece their clients by having their clients do photos with "their" photographers and then take whatever cut they want on and under the table and such. And don't confuse them with the classic recording contracts which end up convincing band members to take on a loan they could only repay if they have five hit albums (which was the standard contract for about half a century). Pongza - it sounds to me like you are still exploring and that's fine. But it also sounds to me like you are one of those people who is dream inclined. I would want you to walk away from this thought with the idea of whatever it is you choose to pursue, that you commit fully to that direction and use that as your cornerstone foundation, learn everything there is to know about it. I think the walk away is just the awareness of if you have a dream - a goal in life that makes you complete - evaluate your commitment to that goal and be honest with yourself. Are you spending more time fantasizing or more time making it happen.
over 14 years ago
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Vonnie - I wrote that very quickly after finishing my work last night with still too many thoughts to sleep. RenRen - I think if you take some of what you say and mix it with Patrick's observation there is potentially a part two to this discussion which would be... How do you enjoy the ride? This blog was very influenced by a lot of people who are not enjoying the ride. RenRenl.... don't marry a rich man just so you can give his money to charity. :) Jessamine - I'm not sure anyone has to be scared off the right track, I think most people carry plenty of fear inside them to get off the right track all by themselves. Maybe those fears are learned as a child - that is very possible.
over 14 years ago
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andy and musicnote - I have to disagree. If you look at the world of entertainment especially, you absolutely cannot make the statement that people without funding could not succeed. In fact, the opposite is almost true. Absolutely if your parents can give you 400,000 dollars to make Napoleon Dynamite, you've got a huge advantage. However, it seems to me that often the people who are the most ground breaking are the people who have to find their own path. I say this as someone who grew up without money. I learned how to make movies at the library. When I finally had made a film, it was every dime I'd ever earned and then some. I lived on $1.50 of food a day for years. (I'm sure in some countries that would be luxurious, in Los Angeles... not so easy.) It is no accident that the first time I was on a magazine cover, the story was about how to provide high production quality on low budgets. Anyway - my point is simply that you are suffering from your dream instead of taking action. Start asking yourself - what do you have access to? A cell phone video? Fine, make a movie from cell phone video. A webcam? A friend's webcam? If nothing - start writing. You need an instrument? You don't need the best instrument, what can you borrow? But - mostly - don't want something without going after it. RenRen - that's an enviable ability. elavndrc - I can't imagine that life. lou - you could write a whole chapter of a book on how this relates to Maslow's hierarchy of needs.... keyword being "you" :) It's an interesting observation, I'd be curious of the details of the correlations. miaka2002 - thanks! Katie_x - I think you are rounding out the perspectives provided with the unbroken optimism. Thanks for the reminder. whiteberries - I think you're echoing the idea of the journey being the important part. One thing I should say is that I think the journey can really begin once you reach the island.
over 14 years ago
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hkswtie - Let's just say I opted for the 17 cent generic raman verses the 26 cent brand name kind. Beatrix - My next blog is going to address this. Lynn - I think people are given a few opportunities in life and their job is to be ready to take them and recognize them when they come along - and THAT has a lot to do with success - but that is sort of moving beyond the scope of my initial thought here. Peach - As usual, very good points... I think the idea of a realistic dream is important... in some ways - doesn't that underscore the title of the blog though? Dreams Can Be Burdens. If you burden yourself with an unachievable dream - you will be unhappy. It is up to you to decide what your dreams will be. Andy - read my next blog. maiji - I think you're touching on something that is an important point which I didn't really adderss initially... but maybe should. Anyone can choose a goal for which they are not cut out. If you choose an impossible goal, you're asking to be miserable. When people are young, it's important to explore and discover what interests you as well as what you're adept at. There could be a whole chapter about that. Lynn - Yeah - You can't want something that is not within the earthly realm of possibility and expect to be happy. However.... I do think that you can overcome expectation if you combine it with perseverance and uniqueness. That is not to encourage people to want things which are impossible, but if you look at the world you will see many examples of the unexpected success. rottendoubt - Fame is relative anyway. I will be blogging on that in the future. I think your overriding point is to enjoy the journey - this is something you should blog about and let me know so I can read it, I would be very interested in what you have to say about this. elavndrc - My mother's dream was to be a mother. Dreams do not always have to be success in career. I think some people's dream is to travel the world. Some people dream to live a simple life. - - - - I'm going to leave this with one clarifying thought... This blog was intentionally provocative - but it's purpose was really to say at a general level. If you are going to take on a dream - something that you cannot be happy until you are identified as being that thing - then you had better do everything you can do achieve that dream. If you don't, all you have done is take on an idea that will make you miserable. You will feel that you have not achieved anything. We don't get to decide everything about our lives, but we do get to decide what our goals are. There is an interesting book called "What should I do with My Life?" Which talks about how some people have a natural drive to "BE" something and others just want to "BE." It interviews many people who had that inclination and time and time again, it is not where they had initially aimed - but when you look at their history - all roads were leading there. Personally, I think there is something to be said for just plain being the best of whatever YOU are.
over 14 years ago
Terence
I really do love reading your blogs Mark! This blog is particularly thought provoking. I agree with Pat that the journey is the most important, and I do see people around me that are miserable because they say their dream is to be in the business, but they complain about their situations incessantly. To pursue a dream you really have to put everything on the line. Sometimes things will really come down hard on you and often you will feel unprepared and unsure. Believe in and follow your passion. You will know whether your desire is fleeting or not if you realize you cannot possibly do anything else other than what you dream. And sometimes what you dream is not something that you can see for a long time. You can only have faith that you will one day see it, but you have to be able to also accept the possiblity that the dream will never happen. The journey of a dream is all we can hope for. We may not always take this path, but to be consumed with the hope of dreams at some polnt makes life more meaningful and special. Especially while we are still young! We have time for mistakes. We will still have time to be pragmatic!
over 14 years ago
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The comfort zone, tinkerchel, is surrounded by a circle of fear. And it's very uncomfortable to pass through it. You have to discover who you are - and face the realities of who you are. And maybe worse, discover who you can be and live up to that potential. But there is no requirement that people must do this. Most people don't. Some people feel, though, that they were meant to... and those people must or they'll be in conflict with themselves.
almost 14 years ago

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April 13, 2007