I dreamed last night I was on a kind of Dungeons & Dragons quest with two other brave adventurers. We were hunting for gold in dark tunnels beneath a tall office tower – but first we had to stop for lunch. While I ate my potato chips and roast beef sandwich, I reflected on our journey. In the dream, my companions and I had been at this for some time already, having opened many locked chests and discovered many secret doors. We’d managed to find some gold, but it was only ever enough to sustain us until the next adventure. “We’re like writers,” I thought as I finished my sandwich. “Hunting and hunting for gold to set us free.”
The first job I ever had was as a busboy/dishwasher at a Newport Creamery in Providence. I hated it. It wasn’t just that the dishes never stopped coming and I was always behind on my work, or that it was hot in the kitchen, or that I was always damp from spraying down the dishes, it was that it all seemed pointless. There was no fun in it, so why bother? I quit after a week. I still got a paycheck, however, and I couldn’t believe how much it was for. “What the hell am I going to do with all this?” I wondered. I blew it on video games and soda.
My second job was as a dishwasher at the Jewish Home for the Aged. I was determined to do a good job. I was part of a team of dishwashers, and I enjoyed the comradery of it, and I got used to the odd stink of soap and old food, and I learned how to turn off my mind and work quickly. But it was summer and I wanted to go on vacation with my family, and my boss wasn’t willing to give me a week off, so I quit. The check I got for those two weeks was even bigger than that from the Newport Creamery, and looking at it, I again thought, “What the hell am I going to do with all this?”
I eventually held a job for longer than two weeks. Yet all the while I worked as a young and then middle-aged man, I dreamed of when I wouldn’t, when I’d open some locked chest of story and there would be my treasure. It seems like powerful motivation, but it’s not. The search for freedom can become a form of bondage in itself. The day I let myself tell the story I most wanted to tell, I felt as free as the day I walked out of the Newport Creamery.
My adventuring dream ended, by the way, when my companions and I came upon our first chest and managed to spring it open with ease. Gold began to pour out of it like water from a font. Endless gold, a river of gold. We didn’t have enough sacks to carry it all. I turned to my friends and I said, “What the hell are we going to do with all this?” And then I woke up.
If you like the ideas and perspectives expressed here, feel free to contact me about individual coaching and group workshops.
Fearless Writing: How to Create Boldly and Write With Confidence.
You can find William at: williamkenower.com