I call my dad Dave. Or The Dave when I think he’s cool. Which is often. He’s the cat’s meow.
He runs his own software development company. He’s been doing it for almost as long as I’ve been alive. From a distance he looks like your average, button-pressing manager-dude (I obviously have no idea what managers do). So when I was in my mid-teens and he asked me what I wanted to do with my life, I was scared.
I wanted to act, deep down. And I was pretty sure I was good at it. It was the only thing I wanted out of life at that time. But how do you tell your father that? Especially when your father has been working at the same office since you were born? I was thoroughly expecting one of those sit-com lectures about thinking of your future and not wasting youth on silly things like dreams and acting.
So I hedged my bet. I told him about an interest in the arts and acting, but I quickly assured him I intended to get a business degree or something to fall back on if that dream evaporated.
He got serious. He looked me in the eye, which was freaky because we were driving down the QEW.
“Don’t have a backup plan,” The Dave said. “No plan B.”
He explained that if my dream was acting, I ought to, nay, need to sacrifice everything else. If it’s acting, then throw all your chips into acting. Acting or bust.
I was pretty shocked.
I shouldn’t have been.
If I had paid attention as a kid, I’d have seen that The Dave is no normal businessman. When he was young and newly married, he quit his profitable factory job to go out on his own and start a photography business with his buddy. Everyone was scared, but his dad told him to go for it. His dream changed as the years went on and it evolved into the software company it is today. But the point is, he chased the dream and cut his safety net. He had no plan B. And he won. He’s one of the only people I know who loves going to work in the morning.
My dreams have changed since that talk. But I never forgot what he said. And I think it’s still true. If my dream is writing (and it is), I’ll spare no effort or expense to bring it to life. I’ll sacrifice time and responsibilities on its altar. I’ll refuse to hedge my bets. Because hedging your bet is insulting to the dream. It’s like signing a prenuptial agreement. It feels safe, but it’s ugly and false betrays the sacred vow you’re taking.
Find the dream. Marry it, forsaking all others.