As children we’ve all heard some version of “the sky’s the limit!” and “reach for your dreams!” My parents often said these a lot, especially after I brought home a good report card or something. And God bless them for being supportive.
But it’s not until we get older that we realize the sky is a lot closer than we thought and dreams live among the stars. It’s not until we get a bit wiser that we’re able to fill in the second, unsaid half of those common platitudes. “The sky’s the limit…but there’s a glass ceiling in the way that most people aren’t able to break through so you’ll probably end up in middle management like me and that’s fine too.” “Reach for you dreams…within reason you can’t become a music producer you don’t even play an instrument!”
Let me tell you a short, sad story. It’s called. The Worst Feeling in the World.
The Worst Feeling in the World
Long ago, in a kingdom forgotten by time and history, a musician wanted to play a song for a tyrant king. The king was arrogant and mean, but very rich, and his patronage could elevate the musician and his family into a life of luxury. But he feared to play, for there were rumours that any musician who displeased the king was thrown in the dungeon and left there to live out the rest of their days in a dank cave of stone behind iron bars.
One day, the musician’s youngest daughter became very sick. No one in their village could help her, and he didn’t have the money to hire a doctor from town. One night as he watched the child sleeping fitfully with her little mouth open and struggling to breathe, he made up his mind: he must play for the king. So he gathered up his courage, took up his thumb piano made of wood fitted with metal tines and went to the palace.
Though he played a lively, tinkling melody, the king’s attendants looked grim. Sweat trickled down the musicians brow as his thumbs flew over the metal tines. But when he finished, a smile parted the king’s coarse, black beard. The musician’s heart soared, and the king let out a joyful laugh.
“What is this pedestrian country music?” he said. “Never have I heard something so unsophisticated! Take him to the dungeon!”
The musician’s eyes were wide with fright as the guards led him away. They told him the king was a terrible miser, and he had no intention of becoming patron to any musician. So all who came to play for him were imprisoned.
“If only I had known!” cried the musician.
They threw him in a cell so dim he could barely see. His only companion was the drip, drip drip of water leaking from the ceiling into a little pool in the corner. He stayed there for a week, weeping every day, knowing his precious daughter must be dead, until one day he desperately grabbed at the bars, and to his shock, his fingers closed around a sheet. The king was such a miser that he simply painted a sheet to look like bars to fool his prisoners into staying.
The musician escaped the palace, and made his way home, weak with hunger. But when he returned he found his wife and son crying at the bedside of his daughter, who had died only an hour before. His mouth twisted at the thought of the week spent trapped behind a sheet.
“If only I had known!” wailed the musician.
Two days later, he sat on a rock in the middle of a plain, playing his sorrow on his thumb piano when a woman with strange tattoos all over her face came up to him.
“What a sad tune! What troubles you my friend?” she asked.
“My daughter is dead,” said the musician, his eyes bloodshot.
“Is that so? Well lucky I should happen upon you today. I am a witch who can bring back the dead.”
The musician’s eyes went wide, shining with hope. “Is this true?”
“Yes! Come come! We must see her quickly, for I can only revive someone who has been dead for less than one day. Where is your–“
But the witch stopped, staring because the man had thrust his hands into his thick hair, tugging at it.
“If only I had known!” howled the musician.
The moral of this story is DON’T GIVE UP!
Don’t rely on hearsay, assumptions and even statistics to tell you what you can and can’t do. Success is possible, but you have to know what you’re doing. If you have a dream, research it, figure out what you need to do to achieve it, and then give it your all. Even if you think you’ve failed, it’s not over till it’s over. What many of us don’t realize is that often the horrible, sinking feeling like you’ve hit a dead end and you’re just not good enough is the precursor to success. A rite of passage, even. And everybody who’s anybody has been there. The only difference between them and us is:
1) They researched and charted their course expertly and
2) They didn’t give up. They took detours, recalculated, flew if they had to. But they didn’t give up.
Just because I can’t do it today, doesn’t mean I won’t be able to do it someday.
I’ll leave you with this highly inspirational video. I watch it every time I need to remind myself what’s possible. It’s about a man who learned to walk again, even though doctors said he never would. In an interview, he said he wasn’t even trying to walk, he just wanted to lose some weight.
So when you’re thinking
I can’t lose weight. Every time I try to diet I quit after like two weeks, and gain back any weight I lost
I’m too old to have children/go to school/start a business
I’ll never be make it as an actor/singer/writer/podiatrist
Just try. Just try. Explore your options. You could end up going places you never imagined you could.