Are you living life like an extra in a dream?
In your dream world, you come across many characters. If you interact with them, you find many just seem to follow a script. They are playing out their characters in your dream world. You may not learn anything from them or gain anything insightful. I call them the dream extras.
In waking life we want our lives to have meaning. To be significant. But then sometimes we get caught on life scripts that seem boring and a daily drudge. Perhaps then, we have become dream extras. We are not living our true life according to our own script. We are living according to someone else’s.
To give an example. Some years ago, I prioritised paying my bills and rent over following my goals and building my business. I made a conscious decision to take any job I could get, even if it was minimum-wage, because paying the bills and rent was more important than focusing on my life goals.
So I worked in hospitality. I did portering. That was ok, but short-term. I did waitering. I sucked at it. I worked in the concierge section of 5 star hotels doing doorman work. I had some interesting times and got to drive lots of different sports cars but it was not really meant for me. Those day, I hated my work. I hated travelling to work. I didn’t really like myself. In some of these places, I was the only English person working those jobs. But I persevered, because I believed that it was more important to pay the bills then to follow my own life script. Ironically, I never made much money doing these jobs and still struggled to pay the rent or bills. And at work, I was always coming up against some conflict or problem. Ultimately, I was further away from my desired goal than I had been before.
I was living my life as a dream extra. Someone else’s dream, not my own.
Eventually, I reached a breaking point. I’d had a particularly annoying day at one job with my co-workers and it finally hit me. This was not my path. No amount of forcing was going to make it my path. If I continued this way, I would only be inviting more unhappiness and frustration in my life. And no, money was never going to come. I decided enough is enough. It’s time to get serious. I had to make space in my life so I could create a new life – my life script. And yes this as difficult. Because the issues of where the money is coming from and how do you pay your bills doesn’t go away. And for some time after, there were difficulties and lean times. But after it, I emerged onto my life script. And here I am today continuing that. But I could never do that if I remained a dream extra.
The life script is different for everyone. It may not be related to the work you do. It could be about the family you want, or friends, or relationships or life experiences. But it is your script and only yours alone. If you do not explore what your path is, there is a risk of falling into becoming a dream extra.
But what I’m interested in is how to get onto your life script without having to go through a rough transition phase. And I think the best way is to move slowly towards your desired outcome in a constant and certain manner. You are always taking steps towards that. Sometimes minuscule steps. It may only be a step of thinking about your path and sitting down with a pad and paper and writing notes as to you what you want.
The rough transition only comes when your desired outcome is so far removed from your present reality. Like, if for many years, you have been fully living the life of a dream extra and then suddenly you awaken within the dream, kind of like lucid dreaming. You realise that this is not your true life script. It has made you unhappy, it may have made you unhealthy or sick. Then you have this growing uncomfortable feeling in the pit of your stomach that this path is not right for you, that you want a different path. Getting sick is the biggest indicator that the script is wrong or needs to be adjusted. I have heard from people tell me about their work environments (particularly in the City) that are toxic, where stress and work conflicts are rife and when I hear about relatively young people getting diagnosed with cancer in these places, I wonder is there a connection?
At the point of realisation, take small steps to move in the direction of the life script you want. You are creating a new wave. Learn something about what you want. Read about it. Join associations or groups related to it. Volunteer in the field. Create a website related to it. Move slowly and surely. The balance will slowly and surely alter, until it starts to supplants your current reality.
This is especially the approach if you are in a situation where you can’t change your life so easily. In the West, we have a lot of freedom. But in other parts of the world, some people do not always have that choice particularly where society has lots of forces designed to keep people living dream scripts.
One of the things I did to invite acupuncture into my everyday life script was through volunteering. I volunteered at a hospice and offered acupuncture and massage. I did a few hours every week. It kept the connection strong with me. I also joined a Japanese acupuncture organisation and became a voluntary board member for a while, which involved having to be available for telephone meetings and discussions as well as set up small practice groups in London with a colleague. Being part of an organisation enabled me to make connections with other acupuncturists and learn from them. Some of whom, I would call good friends now. The voluntary work at the hospice eventually led me to be offered a paid position so in effect I was being paid to do what I loved. In these ways, I was able to slowly change onto my desired life script until it superseded my previous script.
It is not a good idea to make a sudden shift to get on your life script. Don’t quit your job. This is the kind of dumb thing I have done, and there’s often a rough transitional phase to go through if you do it this way. If you take a sudden shift, it will be turbulent and possibly harmful. Though, you may be able to reset onto your own life script, it can be a rough ride. This is especially true if you have family. The sure and steady approach is better and in the long term will carry you further without creating too many disruptions in your life. Moving slowly with awareness towards your own life script.
Currently I am in the process of creating a new dream script for myself. Once again, I am doing it in a rough transitional kind of way. This new dream script is something that I have wanted for a long time but just not gotten down to do yet. Creating this website is a part of this process. I hope you find it helpful.