Yesterday I spent several hours with a new acquaintance. We talked and ate and drank coffee together. As we talked we shared thoughts and opinions and information about our lives. And she taught me about the mule.
As I imagined a stubborn animal in my mind, she talked about how the mule can be symbolic of the daily grind. The work that we do when we really have a passion for doing something else. Something that elicits excitement and creativity, the joy that people crave from the activity they spend eight hours a day or more doing on a regular basis.
I told her about my dream and my three year plan. The frustrations I have with my own stubborn mule that keeps me from the passion I want to pursue yet also pays the mortgage. I have a love / hate relationship with my mule. He's steady as a rock and makes it through each day come hell or high water. I love that about him. He's always on time, never misses a payment and I've learned oh so much from spending day after day with my mule.
Then there's the hate part. The part that begs the mule to do his job in less than eight hours a day. In less than five days a week. To do his job in a way that doesn't squash the very sense of creativity and urgency that I feel when I'm in the zone. Because the zone is where I want to be. It's what I crave and long for like an addict waiting for the next fix, the next high, the next opportunity to snort and drink and revel in the substance that the she knows won't pay the mortgage.
The question is, how do I keep the mule doing his job and still get the substance? How do I find enough hours in the day to release myself from the mule, making him a smaller and much less needed part of my life? Can it be done? Can I kick the mule to the curb? Or will he be yoked to me forever, pulling me away from the sinful luxury of the dream that I can't stop thinking about?
During our chat, the acquaintance (who is working toward reaching her own dream) encouraged me to start feeding the dream more than I feed the mule. That's a tough thing to do when the mule uses many of my daytime hours and brain cells before leaving me an exhausted puddle at the end of the day.
I don't want the mule to win though. One day (in the near future, I hope) I will untether myself from the stubborn mule and immerse myself into the dream. So, in order to make the dream into reality, I will carve out more hours to practice the dream. I will not allow the mule a single minute more than necessary to complete the mule-like tasks that he dictates to me. I will spend more time thinking about the dream, sacrifice sleep so that I can feed the dream until it grows into the reality I've always dreamed it to be.