When I was a kid, I dreamed of being the main character of a video game. The game was about saving a princess, helping helpless villagers, and destroying the evil green-faced bad guy, who would stop at nothing to gain absolute power. He was powerful enough as is, but he wanted everyone else to bow down to him. That’s when the main character, played by me, ventured out, kicked his butt, and saved not only the princess, but the whole world.
Many have heard the name of the game. It’s ranked as the best game of all time. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of time.
My friends introduced me to the game, but I beat it first! And it left an indelible mark in me. Even today, as an adult, whenever I’m having a good hair day, I can’t help but relate the curve in my brown hair to the golden bangs of the main character, Link.
Imagine, as a kid I would walk around the shore of a beach, or the halls of an elementary school, and if I were alone, the single-player protagonist in my world, you bet I was on the hunt for that Master Sword. I swear, I would look behind book shelves for it. Or explore the unearthed roots of a tree. Or even abandoned buildings in the neighborhood. Those last ones with friends, naturally, when we role played in real life. Otherwise, we created our own story-boarded video games on paper.
What I’m trying to do in this blog post, with the title and with the text, is rummage this concept of Dream Job, to get a hold of what it is I consider a dream job, perhaps shine some light on the subject.
Why I started off with Link, is because my dream job was completely fictional. That’s one way to see it. Another way to see it is that what I most wanted in life was to be good. We know there’s quite a debate on whether or not Man is inherently good, or a blank slate, or selfish, or whatever. For me, with certainty, I can vouch for this: that my dream job was on the side against evil, arm in arm with allies, and side by side with my queen.
As I grew older I developed more realistic aspirations.
Around middle school, a fan of the second half of Law & Order, but also given to lively debate, and very opinionated, it dawned on me to become a lawyer. It wasn’t that they were well dressed, or made above average income, or any of the outer layer of the job. I was interested in the public speaking, in the arguing a worthy case, and of seeing my client set free. Rules were interesting. Memorizing was necessary. And research part of the job. That’s what I most wanted to be.
But the thread, you will notice, was the same. I saw the world as corrupt, as interested in maximizing profit, and willing to stop at nothing to put everyone in a square box. It was my mission to stand up for what was right, literally stand up in a court room with a finger pointed to the ceiling, and a palm turned to the jury, asking them to open their eyes. Justice was everything. Truth needed soldiers. And to me being a lawyer — before I met a few myself — meant stopping at nothing to see righteousness prevail.
Being a doctor never interested me. Being a firefighter seemed cool, but not for me. Joining the army, forget about it. Police officer, maybe, on occasion, like a good detective, but not really. Politician, perhaps, sometimes, like a voice of the people, but not actually. But, what about becoming a teacher?
I never wanted to be a teacher, it was a nightmare job.
Growing up I had only known one good teacher in my life, my own mother, whose students used to stop her on the street to thank her for being a positive role model for them; or who used to call her by an incredibly catchy epithet.
Aside from the obvious, there were my elementary school teachers, who were at least nice, my second grade teacher being the one who left the biggest impression on me when she laughed at one of my jokes during a parent-teacher conference.
But fifth, sixth, seven, eighth? Only sharp memories and stinging episodes remain.
High school? I can count on one hand the number of teachers who left a positive impact in my life from there, and we all had seven different classes per semester, those four years.
Pause the teacher thing for a minute and let’s take a journey to college. Because there is where I formed my final vision for the future.
Past a tumultuous start, by the middle years, it became apparent to me that I ought to enter the music industry. My dream job, following a research project on the manager of the Beatles, Brian Epstein, became to find a talented band and fight for them. (Notice the thread?)
Joining the college radio station, recording bands, finding the one band who actually found me, and booking shows . . . that was the start of something I could believe was my future career in show business. And it wasn’t even show business, it was art, it was creating beauty out of thin air with vibrating strings, and capturing the emotion on powerful microphones, to share with the world. It meant something more than money to me. My dream job meant so much more.
It didn’t last more than a year. The band disbanded. I went into internship after internship in the same industry, but that sense of loss was not compensated by the experience of working under the tutelage of other masters. In fact, time simply went by, I learned a pocketful of valuable lessons, and left the music industry with a shrug. I didn’t find a space to inhabit there soon enough. Only enough time was spent in that arena to realize it wasn’t for me.
Dreams die hard.
Luckily, they evolve too. Sometimes it isn’t even evolution that happens, but a rediscovery, or a reinterpretation, that brings into focus what mattered the most to you in the past, and gives it new life.
After college, after a life affirming trip abroad, sitting down at this very laptop I own today, I put aside my anxieties about the future, and I open a new word document. Fall leaves sway in the wind, and surf their way down to the soft, patchy ground — meanwhile I type. The first story I ever loved came out of me in one burst that night in October 2013. And the tingling sensation up my spine at the end of that experience pushed me over the edge. Writing was for me.
However awkward, however foolish, this truth paired itself with the earlier knowledge that were I to master something I would have to stick with it, and stick with it. So writing it was/is until the day I die.
Once my flag was planted, I began building a fence around my dream, and cultivating the fertile acres of my imagination. Short stories, poems, novels. Few have bore fruit. But enough did to last me until the next harvest, and the next, and the next.
Basically, seven years later, I am living my dream life. I like the work, and it’s all the same thread from the very beginning.
From playing a fictional character, to writing them. From creating video game stories, to engaging the imagination of others. To embodying what I loved most about law in my life, I am able to keep the work ethic and the fight for justice alive in my personal life. Have I wrong you? Let’s discuss it. Move towards a better future.
I didn’t like my teachers? I became one, and reflected every day after class, on paper, on how I could improve, how I could deliver the lessons I myself had always needed and wanted. That was my fight.
As for music? Well my first two novels revolve around musicians. Most likely the third will have a lot of music too.
As Steve Jobs once said — and who better to quote in a post with his name on it — “You can’t connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect them looking backwards.” Meaning, as a child on his back, looking up at the big Texas night sky, all I was seeing were stars. With a pair of decades in me now, I’m just now starting to see the constellations.