Faith, Dreams & Practical Camels


Faith, Dreams & Practical Camels

Chasing your dreams isn't as far-fetched as you think

“If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough.” ~ Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

My dreams of being a screenwriter often scare me—but not for the reasons you might think.

I should be scared because it’s an extremely competitive field where only a tiny percentage are able to support themselves full-time. I should be scared because I’m daring to hope for something that is likely to disappoint.

But what really scares me is that what I’m hoping for is actually possible. You see, every great artist has stood exactly where I do now. All they had was an idea and a game plan, but they made their dreams happen.

A few summers ago, I went to SeaWorld and after the Shamu show, I got to talk with some of the trainers. I was struck with the simplicity of their story: they went to college, studied biology or psychology, and took practical steps to attain the dream job of so many 6-year-olds.

It’s been proven over and over again: if you put in your 10,000 hours of practice, you’ll master the craft. It’s not necessarily the most talented ones who succeed, but the ones who stick around when everyone else goes home.

It’s scary how simple it is, isn’t it? I can even fill in more details for myself and it still comes out to only 4 steps:

  1. Move to Austin for its growing film industry
  2. Secure full-time job in advertising/public relations to support myself
  3. Write screenplays and produce short films for 10,000 hours
  4. Get noticed and start selling screenplays

Simple, right? But simple doesn’t mean easy. So far I’ve only accomplished Step 1, and Step 2 has taken much longer than I anticipated. So the doubts are rolling in. Am I stupid to be so fixated on Austin? Am I naive to think I could make it in such a competitive environment? Am I courageous to dream? Or am I just another coffee-shop hopeful fiddling with some half-finished screenplay?

I’m starting to wonder if my dreams are unrealistic. I do have bills to pay, after all. But I’ve also been reading Matthew and it’s reminding me that faith is all about believing in the impossible. Take this illustration, for example:

“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” (Matthew 19:24)

Anyone with a brain knows it’s physically impossible to fit a camel through the eye of a needle. But what most people don’t know is that the “eye of a needle” in this passage refers to a narrow door in Jerusalem’s wall. It’s actually possible for a camel to enter through it — but it has to shed its pack and stoop down in order to do so. Similarly, a rich man has to give up his material possessions in order to gain access to something far more valuable.

While this passage is talking about faith, the principle applies to dream-chasing, too. For each of us, there exists something far more valuable than safety or predictability in our lives. It’s incredibly hard to achieve that dream, but it’s not impossible. It requires sacrifice, but it’s not unrealistic.

If I want it badly enough, nothing can stop me from achieving my dreams. But I have to make some hard decisions in order to fit myself through that narrow door—just like any practical camel.