Watch Me Entertain Myself!

Sacha Guitry once said, "You can pretend to be serious, but you can't pretend to be witty." Oh yes, I'm the great pretender.
(pilot episode: 20 January 2004)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


“Why live life from dream to dream? And dread the day when dreaming ends.”
-- “One Day I’ll Fly Away,” Nicole Kidman

Someone asked me in Formspring about giving up on dreams. Apparently he has invested so much time and energy to become a nurse; unfortunately, nowadays it’s so difficult to get into a hospital if one doesn’t have a backer. After several unsuccessful attempts, he is on the verge of giving up being a nurse.

Ever since we were young we’ve been taught to dream. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” is a question adults ask kids all the time. In my time the popular answer would be “astronaut” or “pilot” or “doctor.” We either pursue those childhood dreams or, as I suspect almost all of us do, we’d toss them aside for newer dreams.

When I was in high school, I wanted to become a film director. That determined my choice of course for college. Since there was no film course in my college, I took up Communication Arts instead. I thought having a broader background will be advantageous for me in the long run because I’d develop other skills as well as get exposed to other forms of media.

True enough, after college I applied to film companies, but none were responding. So I tried television networks, but got zilch too. Radio stations didn’t respond also. In the end, I ended up working for theater at the CCP. Then I moved to advertising, where I stayed for more than 5 years. Finally I was able to join ABS-CBN in 2000. In my stint there I was also exposed to Star Cinema and its big bosses. After 6 years there I went back to advertising. Now I’m working for another network. And in all those years of work, the closest thing I did to being a director was to produce TV plugs. As a writer/producer of plugs, I would sometimes need to shoot talents. In doing so, I get to call out “Rolling!” and “Action!” and “Cut!”

Throughout the years after graduation I would take stock of where I am and inevitably I would ask that one difficult question I had for myself: “What about my dream of becoming a film director?” At first my answers came easily, almost glibly: “I still have more time.” “I’m still amassing experience and savings.” “I’m still enjoying myself in what I’m currently doing.” But the older I get, the more I had to confront the issue head-on; I was not getting any younger.

Finally I had to ask myself: “Do I still want to be a film director?” Because if I really, really wanted to be one, I wouldn’t have wasted all this time. I would have made use of the contacts and connections that I had. I would have been more focused. I would have been that driven. But I wasn’t. Why is that so? I had to ask myself. Maybe that dream was more wishful thinking. Maybe I came up with that dream not knowing what it entailed. And when I found out what being a director entails (long hours, a million-and-one details and headaches to attend to, all that responsibility on one’s shoulders), I had to ask myself again: “Is that what I really want?”

So when finally I “let go” of my dream, it wasn’t without much fanfare, nor much pain. (Well, okay, okay, full disclosure: I cheated. I kinda didn’t fully let go. I just told myself, “Well, maybe not now. But given all these indie films cropping up, it’s not inconceivable that I’ll end up directing a short indie film in the future. Maybe in the future.”)

What I realized is this: My career path may look accidental, but my success in whatever I did is no accident. I make it a point to always do my best in whatever I get myself into. That means learning new things and getting along with people. So I got to amass experience and knowledge while building up a wider network.

I learned early on that one dream may not be enough. Dreams can also change, because people change. Human beings are resilient. And we are never satisfied; we always seek for something more. Boredom and stagnation are for those who never have lived.

So I told Nurse-Wannabe: There's nothing wrong with back-up plans, alternative careers and change of plans. And who knows? You might get into the nursing profession thru a different route. Or you might end up living an even more interesting life.

I always keep in mind the following cliches: Life is not a problem to be solved but a mystery to be lived. The best-laid plans of mice and men oft go awry. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Enjoy living; Life is the greatest adventure.

“Have you any dreams you’d like to sell?
Dreams of Loneliness, like a heartbeat drives you mad,
in the stillness of remembering
what you had, and what you lost.”

-- “Dreams,” Fleetwood Mac


Ronnie said...

I like this entry, Sir McVie, because I can relate myself to this situation. I finished a Marketing degree but my heart beats on Fashion Designing. Designing clothes has been my dream but I happen to acknowledged the fine line between 'dream' and 'reality'.

I gave up this dream because I opted to become realistic. I started working after graduation but I just stayed for six months. Then I got another job, but this time, I lasted for a month! A friend of mine told me that this cycle might not end unless I landed on my dream job.

Spiral Prince said...

I'm at the precipice of fulfilling a dream at the moment, but I am too hesitant to take the leap of faith into the unknown. :| All my life I got used to being directed and having my choices set aside, but now that the my choice will be taken into account, despite being a few years late, I am hesitating. :|

Ming Meows said...

I was enlightened. Thanks.

Advent said...

this blog made me ponder on where i am now. yes, i wholeheartedly agree, dreams are but guides, templates of what you can be. but that is not to say that if you were not able to live that dream, you have failed. au contraire. just like you, i made great strides on shores i didnt even imagine i'd end up on. :)