‘I’m the one that has to die when it’s time for me to die, so let me live my life, the way I want to.’
– Jimi Hendrix
I received an interesting question today via email. A friend asked me what I dreamed of as a child.
I wanted to be many things but the truth is, I’ve always wanted to fly. The idea of being completely free of expectations, demands and boundaries, to spread my wings and take off to wherever, whenever I wanted to was an exhilarating thought. I first fought for that freedom when I was 16.
‘You will go to university!’ the Father shouted at me, banging hard on the table.
‘No dad, I want to do this. I want to do things that are creative. I don’t need to be a doctor, a lawyer… whatever it is you want me to be. I’d rather be doing something I love for the rest of my life.’ I mustered up enough courage to stand before him – the man I saw as my hero.
‘You mean you’d rather be poor? You think when the day comes you have no money, that if you’re surrounded by things you love, it’ll be enough? Will it feed you? Clothe you? Give you a future?’
I remember his eyes. They were filled with such anger and… tears.
‘Yes. I’d rather be doing what I love than to go earn myself a piece of paper that means nothing.’ I shouted back, before turning around and leaving the house.
And like all dramatic moments, the skies opened up to a thunderstorm so I had no choice but to walk in the rain. I sobbed all the way to the nearest shopping centre and called up my close friend but guess what? Friends can’t help you solve your problems.
‘I seriously thought you weren’t coming home that night,’ the Mother said to me, years later. But I eventually did. I returned with a battle plan.
‘Look dad, I’ll get myself a qualification. While the rest of my friends are off playing, earning cash or lazing around, I’ll study what you think is beneficial to my future. But after that, you’ve got to let me do what I want to do. This is my future.’
I got myself a diploma in Computer Programming and slogged my nights away, learning languages that no man should learn. I learnt how to create software. Thereafter, I pursued another diploma in Communications and majored in television production and journalism. And still after that, I got myself another diploma in Education.
I never got my degree.
Sometimes I wonder… did I get to fly?
‘I think that’s why I love reading and writing,’ I replied my friend. ‘Reading takes me to places I’d never get to explore; into the vast world I’ve not yet walked and into the psyche of another man’s mind he wouldn’t otherwise reveal… And that’s why I write – it gives me wings.’
I’ve not stopped fighting for my dreams since that day.
I do it for the girl in me.
‘In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.’
– Albert Camus
Today, I wanted to be alone. But the boss called me out to have coffee with the team to chat.
Today, I wanted to climb my mountain. But the year’s projects came in and while it is the usual list of major things to do… I found out that two of the events will be taking place in the precise month I’d been planning my getaway.
Today, I wanted to listen to music and read my book on the train. But two friends spotted me on the train and came over to chat.
And yet, today, I managed to smile.
This is because of a secret I have.
Early in the morning, I made a decision to pursue a dream that I’ve longed for, the past 6 years. While the rest of the world lay in slumber, I made a call – a call that will cost me dearly. But it will be worth it. It’s my precious, fragile dream and I’m going to do it.
I’m doing it for the woman in me.
‘I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time – waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God – it changes me.’
– C.S. Lewis
After the call, I felt so completely and utterly alone. I walked the corridors, hungry for a quiet corner to meet the Dream Maker. Eventually, I found one by a stairwell. I placed by head on His shoulder and stayed there for a very long time.
We didn’t talk much. We didn’t need to. He already knew the turmoil that lay beneath my skin. Him just being there enveloped the fragility of my hopes.
‘I want to run away,’ I whispered.
‘I’ll go with you,’ He answered.
‘Won’t you be upset? You’ve trusted me with so much… It won’t disappoint you that I’m not becoming the person you wanted me to be?’ I asked.
‘I loved you before you made those choices. Why should that change the way I feel?’ He hugged me tighter.
The cage the blackbird lives in is still there but the door is open. The blackbird walks tentatively to the opening and peers out. She spreads her wings and flies away but returns soon after. No, this cage is different. It’s one of complete and total acceptance. She lands in her favourite corner and begins to sing the song that was written before the ages, before she began to live.
She was doing it for the dream in her.