A Dream Deferred No Longer


What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

– ‘Harlem’ by Langston Hughes

I remember reading those words as a young kid and thinking, “Wow. That sounds awful. A life without living your dreams? How horrible.”  I read them again at age 36 and thought, “Tell me about it.” True, I have no idea about what living in the crime ridden Harlem of Hughes’ poem is like but I certainly knew a thing or two about deferring my dreams. The fact is I buried my dreams for a long, long time. Sure it sounds terrible but you’d bury your dreams too if you were me.  It’s because my relationship was bad. It’s because my childhood was tough. It’s because I don’t look like a model or come from a celebrity family or own a Mercedes. Actually, it was because I was high and drunk for a couple of decades and when reality slips away from you for that long, your dreams are the first things to go. It’s insane how easily I let my dreams just walk out the door. Things I wanted to do since childhood just vanished and I let them go without a fight.

A few years into sobriety, I had what someone in recovery poetically referred to as “the country song in reverse”- you know, getting the car, the job, the wife and the dog back. And the dreams. Mainly, I got my dreams back. When I was a kid I wrote plays for my teddy bears and stories and poems and that’s all I ever wanted to do. Yesterday, I finished my second full-length play. Me the drug addict whose biggest accomplishment was finishing a case of two buck Chuck finished writing another play! One that people are going to come and see! How the hell did that happen? Frankly I have no idea. This process this time around was TOUGH. I wrestled back and forth with the plot, the dialogue, the characters. I second guessed my creativity, my sense of humor, my choices. I battled with it for nearly a year with tons of starts and stops in that time frame. Magically, a few days ago I surrendered and moved the fuck out-of-the-way. That’s when the miracles happened and here we are with a great version that will look good and hopefully make people laugh when it makes it to the stage this spring. 

However, most of that is out of my control. I can’t force people to love it or pay people to laugh. Or maybe I could but I’m way too lazy to mastermind that sort of manipulation. All I know is that I delivered on what I promised, I showed up and did the work. And today, that’s what a dream looks like. It didn’t dry up or rot or get put on hold. But maybe they do explode. Maybe they blow up and set a bunch of other amazing things, hidden wishes and  life-long desires in motion. I know. It sounds crazy but a guy can dream, can’t he?

Inspiration for August 27th: Man Ray

“It has never been my object to record my dreams, just the determination to realize them.” Man Ray

Founding member of both the Surrealism and Dada movements, Man Ray is that freak artist whose massive body of work seemingly has something inspiring for almost everybody. Paintings, drawings, sculptures, fashion photography, movie making, Man Ray did it all. Friend and collaborator with the likes of Dali, Hemingway and Duchamp, Man Ray was born today in 1890 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Stark, stunning and sometimes a little unnerving, the work of Man Ray in every medium is utterly unforgettable. 

In an interview from the 1970’s towards the end of his life, Man Ray was famously quoted, “I have been accused of being a joker. But the most successful art to me involves humor.” Joker or not, Man Ray’s most memorable pieces are the ones that winkingly give the viewer something to smile about or something unexpected.

At the age of 86, Man Ray passed away and was buried in Paris. His sense of humor is immortalized on his tomb stone with the words: Unconcerned but not indifferent.

Many an art student has pondered the meaning of Man Ray’s epitaph and the internet, as you can imagine, is filled with heated discussions all claiming to know what he was thinking when he chose those words. I think he’d get a laugh out of that too. To me, the words personify the way he created art and lived his life. He wasn’t filled with worry but he wasn’t dispassionate either. Man Ray loved life and loved love (he was married twice, had several scandalous affairs and was spent his last days with his beloved Juliet whom you see buried with him above).

Today, on a Monday filled with big projects and annoying “to do” tasks, I think being unconcerned but not indifferent might be a wise path to choose. Also on busy days like this it’s important for me not to take myself too seriously so I’ll try to do that too. And lastly, I want to marinate on that opening quote of his today too by taking even little steps to realize my dreams.

Inspiration for August 22nd: ARYZ

Dontcha just love the internet? At it’s best this web thing helps us learn new things, turns us on to new ideas and makes discovering new talent easier than ever. Today thanks to this fancy-pants technology, I discovered the incredible work of graffiti artist and muralist ARYZ. On August the 22nd, as luck should have it, Juxtapoz magazine featured a spread on the completion of ARYZ mural in Copenhagen, the beauty you see above. His work is breathtaking in scope and size and left me über inspired today. Like take a look at this marvel below, entitled, “Dreamer”.

Painted on the side of a factory in Catalunya, Dreamer makes me want to dream even bigger. Admittedly, I am no visual artist but the works of ARYZ make me want to expand the reach of my writing and take things several stories up, if only in a figurative sense. ARYZ’s website is definitely worth a click-through. His work transcends street art with soul, tenderness and sense of humor.

As this cloudy Wednesday slowly ticks away, I am filled with the dream  and desire to take things bigger- creatively, spiritually, emotionally. I’m also motivated to stay open to discovering new artists, music, film and obsession. Because, whether its a website or the side of a building in Germany,  you just never know where your next big inspiration might come from.