There are many things that I would love to do – and some I attempt and fail. Others I start but end up never finishing.
Creating, however, is perpetually unfinished and I love that. There is something here to always add or improve upon, an ever-expanding horizon with every new creation.
Previously, when talking with friends, about the many reasons they, or I, are not able to start something, I usually end my part of the conversation with “because.” Because I don’t have money, time, or because I’m not a real writer, artist, or whatever category I decide on using as an excuse. I’m also confident I am not alone in doing this, these conversations happen whenever people share their dreams or goals, and they feel the need to justify what they think is holding them back.
When I finally decided to start writing and acting, I had a picture of an older man sleeping in a chair next to an open gate. He was wearing clothing that’s weathered and stained. Propped against the wall at the ground next to him are his belongings. His chair faces to the south and away from the open gate. This space appears to be his post, and he is currently manning it behind closed eyelids. As I watch him sleep, he lets out an occasional cough and clears his throat. With each snore, he shifts his head from side-to-side while involuntarily scratching different parts of his body.
There are many careers and goals in life that have a gatekeeper. An arbiter who lets someone through to the other side if they pay a toll. Such a toll may be age, education, gender, race, status, or location. However, while I watch this particular keeper sleeping next to his gate, I realize that there is no toll. In fact, I don’t even see a gate, only a large hole in a wall with a sign over it that says “Go.”
From here there are two types of people, those who trust the sign and walk and those who are scared about the lack of information. Those that choose to wake the keeper for information will get none and will be told to head back until they are ready. They inevitably say that they are in fact ready. And start to cause a fuss while running up to the wall shouting about all the things they are going to do if the gatekeeper tries to stop them. All the plans they have for when they finally get past him and move to the other side of the wall. They shout and wag their finger at him until they get tired and worn. They curse the gatekeeper for keeping them out, for not granting them access to the world beyond. He has ruined all their exciting plans. They’re stuck, angry, and anxious; wondering what it feels like on the other side.
The other type trusts the sign and walks.
What the first person doesn’t see is that during the yelling, finger-wagging, and complaining they have stopped moving forward. They are so close to the hole in the wall that they’re next to a chair facing South, away from the open gate, and decide to use it to rest. They sit and look at the place they want to leave with wavering eyes and nodding heads. Slumping in the chair, their belongings filled with plans and dreams fall to their feet, propped by the wall behind them. Soon the unmistakable sound of snoring comes from the bowed head on their chest.
This illustration, as clear as daylight, helped me realize that all the starting and not finishing, the standing still, and false starts were from me being my gatekeeper. The old man by the wall is me and becomes me, every time I’m close enough to walk past the wall. I sit too long and get tired, weathered, and stiff from lack of movement. I fall asleep and dream of great things, of big things, things I’m going to show the world once I get past the wall. And then, eventually, even those dreams fall asleep.
The time to do something is now.
Now, is a beautiful time to add your value to the world.
There is no guidebook and dreams do not complete themselves; they have no audience larger than one, there is no momentum behind them. They must be picked up and carried past the wall and given to the world beyond.
If I can dream something and I’m willing to put in work to create it, then there is only me who stands still, falls asleep, or moves forward.
My mantra is: get out there and do something that you’ve always wanted to do. There is no gatekeeper, only you. Don’t keep yourself from the world any longer.