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Nshima & Curry
Nshima & Curry
IT TAKES TIME TO ATTAIN YOUR DREAMS
When aspiring writers in their early 20s or younger ask me
for advice, I tell them to set goals and think long term.
"It often takes many years of dedicated effort to become a
good writer," I say. "You may not achieve your major goals
until you're 40, but it'll be worth it."
I immediately see the disappointment on their faces. "Forty?
Oh my goodness. I could be dead by then. And if I'm still
alive, I'll be too old to enjoy anything."
They want to achieve their dreams quickly. They want me to
say something like this: "Study the dictionary for an hour,
then begin writing your 500-page masterpiece. Write about
whatever comes to your mind, besides Anna Kournikova.
Complete your manuscript in a month and sell it to the first
publishing company that offers you $5 million. Pose for the
cover of Time magazine and the centerfold of The New Yorker.
Spend the rest of your life signing autographs and eating
caviar with Salman Rushdie."
If only life were that simple. All of us would have achieved
our dreams, whether they're small dreams such as owning a
car, modest dreams such as owning a house, or grand dreams
such as owning a politician.
People dream of all kinds of things: money, fame, prestige,
power, health, love, tattoos.
Some dreams, of course, are unattainable. No matter how much
I practice tennis, I'll never be able to win Wimbledon,
unless I can compete in a special division called "humor
columnists, retired bus drivers, English monarchs." I'm
willing to spot Queen Elizabeth five games in every set. As
long as I don't have to bow every time she passes me.
Other dreams may seem out of reach, but can be attained
through long-term effort. Victoria Beckham, for example, had
to sing with the Spice Girls for several years before
attaining her ultimate dream of marrying a soccer star.
Whatever our dreams, we need to work hard over a long period
to achieve them, unless we're lucky, extremely talented or
related to George Bush.
Consider yourself lucky if one of the following is true:
---Your father drives a Mercedes and isn't the chauffeur.
---Your name appears on Bill Gates' will.
---You won $123 million in the lottery and don't have 123
---You're the second heir to the throne of Nepal and the
first heir has gone nuts.
Consider yourself extremely talented if:
---As a baby, your first words were "Hey, can I get some
chocolate syrup in this breast milk?"
---You can name every single one of Elizabeth Taylor's
---When you feel like relaxing, you play chess.
---You can produce music from three different parts of your
But even with luck and talent, if you don't work hard, you
may not succeed. Working gradually toward a goal is like
putting money in a savings account. As the years go by, the
interest compounds and, before you know it, you have
enough money to buy a pair of running shoes.
It doesn't matter what you want to do -- if you do it hard
enough and long enough, you'll get better at it. Just ask
Mike Tyson. A decade ago, the former boxing champion had an
ordinary vocabulary, but through dedicated effort, he now
spouts words like "propinquity" and "contumacious." He's the
envy of other boxers, who wish they knew words to confuse
the media, too.
The same formula can work for you. You just have to keep
working, keep striving. It may take years, but it'll be
worth it. Depending on your dream, of course.