Do What Gives You Butterflies

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I’m chasing my dreams like a fat kid chases cake.

 That is the beginning of a real song I wrote during my senior year of high school. I use to be really good at dreaming. I watched way too many movies, and thought, “I can do that.” I had dreams of big cities and studio apartments. I dreamed of coffee shops and novel writing as a career. I’m sad to say this isn’t my dream anymore. Practicality overcame me.

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At times they’re a little more than this heart can take.

I’m sure I’ll find myself in a few unknowns

Sure I’ll venture a little too far from home

But maybe these are the paths in life we’re supposed to go.

I carried my writing dreams to college. I didn’t know where they would take me. I didn’t know if I would write a novel, or produce songs. I didn’t know if I’d be a journalist or a coffee shop owner. All I knew is writing gave me butterflies.

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Well I’m daring life like paper dares the wind.

I’m light I’m flat come pick me up again.

I might sore forever above the earth.

I might fall back down to the ground and burn.

But those few seconds of flight hold all life’s worth.

College killed them. I learned to write better, but I became embarrassed to tell people my major. I learned to understand literature and the brilliance behind it, but I was told that I would never be the next American writer. I discovered my style of writing, and then my style was rejected by numerous literary magazines, “this just isn’t what we’re looking for at this time,” the letter would always say in some form. So I gave up.

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And oh I know it won’t be easy,

But that’s no reason not to try.

And every knows how high the stars are,

But you’re not reaching for my sky.

 

“Business is the route for me.” I decided, adding a double major and increasing my workload to my stress induced limits. Business is safe. Business is practical. Business works for so many people. But business doesn’t give me butterflies.

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I’m learning life like a sailor knows the sea.

Not sure where I am, but I know where I’m bound to be.

And I might have holes in all my sails,

And the breeze I need may always fail.

But at least when I reach land, I’ll have some stories to tell.

The context behind me writing this song: I was sitting in class my senior year. We were maybe talking about the subject of the class, but with this particular teacher there’s a better chance we were talking about sports. And somehow the subject of New York City came up, and the man leading the classroom and influencing so many young lives had the audacity to say, “It would be like one of you going to New York. There is no possible way you could ever fit in.”

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And oh I know it won’t be easy,

But that’s no reason not to try.

And every knows how high the stars are,

But you’re not reaching for my sky.

 

My brave, cultured, and adventurous friend, Julia, begged to differ, “I’ve been to New York,” she said, “I love it there.”

“But you didn’t fit in.” he tired.

“Yeah. Yeah I actually did. I felt kind of like I belonged there.”

“There is no way that someone from Hartselle, Alabama could belong in New York.”

“Some people in Hartselle, Alabama don’t belong in Hartselle, Alabama.” I declared, using every inch of self-control in my being to not simply leave the presence of this conversation.

This is when he pointed his finger and me and my dear friend and said the words, “It’s always the people like you who return. It’s always the people who say they’ll never come back to Hartselle, that have children sitting in my very classroom just a few years down the road.”

People like him kill dreams.

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I dare you to tell me what my future holds.

I dare you to tell me where I will and will not go.

I dare you to tell me where will and won’t fit in.

Yeah, I’m daring you to try and chain me here.

I’m diving headfirst in the wind.

Art is beautiful, and I miss my senior self, and my senior dreams, and my senior butterflies so much on the days that I’m working on statistics and have stomach aches about the test.

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And Lord, I know it won’t be easy.

But no one’s got a reason not to try.

And everyone knows how high the stars are,

And trust me I know how high the stars are.

Because everyone tells me how high those stars are,

But you’re not reaching for my sky.

            The world needs a little more impracticality. The world needs for less people to ignore their passions. The world needs more emotions captured in writers, more dimension of life seen through photographers, more elegance depicted in dancers, more souls seized by singers, more crowds caressed by actors, more hearts compelled in paintings. Where are our Picassos? Where are our Hemmingways? Where are our Audrey Hepburns?

Find practicality, keep a living, but don’t be afraid to rough it in a small city studio if that pleases your soul. Don’t be afraid to major in writing, or art, or dance, or theater if those dreams keep you breathing some days. Don’t be afraid to do the things that give you butterflies.

Practicality is everywhere. What the world lacks now a-days is the art of soul-searching.

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I’ll drop you a star from the other side.


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