Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Keep Following Your Dreams

This poem was written by Karen Ravn.

Happy Belated Valentine’s Day everyone! This week I chose to focus on a poem entitled “For the Young Who Want To” by Marge Piercy.  Her words are below:

For the Young Who Want To by Marge Piercy

Talent is what they say
you have after the novel
is published and favorably
reviewed. Beforehand what
you have is a tedious
delusion, a hobby like knitting.

Work is what you have done
after the play is produced
and the audience claps.
Before that friends keep asking
when you are planning to go
out and get a job.

Genius is what they know you
had after the third volume
of remarkable poems. Earlier
they accuse you of withdrawing,
ask why you don't have a baby,
call you a bum.

The reason people want M.F.A.'s,
take workshops with fancy names
when all you can really
learn is a few techniques,
typing instructions and some-
body else's mannerisms

is that every artist lacks
a license to hang on the wall
like your optician, your vet
proving you may be a clumsy sadist
whose fillings fall into the stew
but you're certified a dentist.

The real writer is one
who really writes. Talent
is an invention like phlogiston
after the fact of fire.
Work is its own cure. You have to
like it better than being loved.

This poem is targeted towards aspiring writers; however, I believe that its message can be applied to anyone who has hoped to fulfill a dream.  Here is what I think the poem could teach us: 

Take a minute and think about one of your biggest dreams.  Do you envision yourself receiving much recognition and many rewards if that dream were to come true? I believe that we each have a desire to do something great.  Motivated to follow our dreams, we eagerly take the initial steps, only to quickly realize that we lack the skills necessary to accomplish what we hope to achieve.  Therefore, as a result, we sometimes grow discouraged and stop striving to reach our goals. 

We often observe accomplished professionals doing or having done what we aspire to do and think that they are talented geniuses who do outstanding work.  We say to ourselves “why can’t I be more like them?”

However, we fail to recognize that what we hope to achieve will not come to term at the very beginning.  Our talent, our genius, and the greatness that we hope other people will  one day attribute to our work comes only after tons of terrible work, hard work, re-starts, patience, and persistence.  For example, if you’re an aspiring writer, your first manuscript may not exhibit a craft comparable to Toni Morrison’s books; or if you’re an amateur programmer, your first program codes may lack the sophistication of Microsoft software.  And that’s ok. 
Piercy tells us that in order to do what we hope to accomplish, we first have to get started and then remain working.  So what if your work stinks.  It’s fine.  Get from under the pressure of perfection.  Be messy.  Make some mistakes.  We only become really good at what we’re doing after much, much, much, much (and did I say much?) practice.      

Frida Kahlo’s first paintings probably began as simple scribbles on an easel.  Yao Ming probably missed his first 3-pointers.  Warren Buffett may have miscalculated some of his early investments.  Albert Einstein’s initial physical theories may have had a few inaccuracies.  (Do you catch my drift here?)  Those great people that we admire are really no different from us.  They too had to start from the very beginning and at one time found themselves in our shoes.     

1 comment:

  1. I really loved this post - the poem seemed remarkably relevant to my own life (and the lives of most college kids I'm sure). You're definitely right - even though its intended for aspiring writers, it definitely hits home for a much wider audience.