It took me more than a decade to understand what Celine Dion and the Bee Gee’s song "Immortality" was about. When the song was released as an international single from Dion’s best-selling album Let’s Talk About Love, I was only a teenager who had just discovered the world of music and the then paradise called MTV. Yes, I liked the song. It was a breath of fresh Celine Dion air since radio and MTV overplayed her other song "My Heart Will Go On". But armed with few experiences in life, the song’s message was bound to go over my head.
The song’s story is simple: the singer walks away from love to pursue a dream. It’s very evident in the following lyrics.
I believe in the idea that “we can have it all”. The sky is the limit. Abundance mentality all the way. Some people don’t achieve a lot in their lives because they don’t think they can have a lot in their lives. If I didn’t gain this mindset, I wouldn’t have the courage to pursue my dream of self-publishing my first novel I Killed My Friends and It Thrilled Me for the entire world to read. After all, I didn’t have any connection to the writing and publishing industry. That alone was enough reason for anyone to get discouraged. But I hopped over that fence.
Hemlock to Earth. Hemlock to Earth.
But on the other end of the spectrum, I also believe in the idea that “we can’t have it all”. Preposterous, you may say. It is indeed a strange thought paradox. The reality is we cannot have it all because of these two: time and energy. We only have 24 hours a day and we’re humans, not robots. Because we cannot have it all, we need to sort things out. We must have priorities.
I’m not a full-time writer (in case you aren’t aware). I have a day job that pays for my Internet connection, puts bread on the table, and pours coffee in the cup. A chunk of my 24 hours goes to that. What’s left goes to other parts of my life including writing. Setting the right priorities was a key that allowed me to finish the novel despite not having the luxury of writing full-time. When we choose to manage our priorities, it’s inevitable that some things must go. And some things really had to go.
I trimmed down my vacation and travel to other places because I felt too many days spent on leisure would be unproductive for my writing. Then I said goodbye to friendly get-togethers that didn’t have specific goals. Yes, I know some get-togethers do not have objectives aside from, you know, getting together but I had more important things to do.
While some people were posting beach photos on Instagram, I worked on Walden and Hyde (and Other Short Stories). While people were filling their bellies with beer on Friday nights, I bored a hole on my seat in the corner of a coffee shop pounding the words of It Thrilled Me on my MacBook. I’d be lying if I claimed I felt no jealousy thinking about the difference on what they and I were doing. The following lines from "Immortality" succinctly describes what I reminded myself during that time:
My debut novel has been released but the work is far from over. There’s still a lot to be done. Market the book. Maintain the blog. Pursue the visual side of my creative career. Work on the second novel.
Though my life currently is set on a different landscape, it is still the same journey. And I am moving. What my life looks like three years ago, a year ago, and even a month ago is different from what it is now. The only way to go is very apparent - forward. And that means continuing to walk away from things in my life, even love that hinders me from moving in the direction I want. Yes. That’s why the song resonated so much in me lately.
I think of delayed gratification. Right now I can’t have it all but I will have it all.
What about you? Can you walk away from something to pursue your dreams?
I Killed My Friends and It Thrilled Me
Herbert Novelli lives an ordinary life. Breakfast. Work. Lunch. Work. Gym. Dinner. Sleep. Plus the occasional get together with his long-time friends who entered adulthood together with him in Cinnabar City.
An unannounced visit to his apartment one ordinary night brings his ex-girlfriend Gina Watson. After leaving him with a vague letter and a broken heart in their old home town Verona, Gina’s unexpected appearance is the last thing Herbert expects to happen.
Gina hands Herbert an invitation to her wedding with another man as a strange peace offering. Herbert accepts it, a show of his willingness to bury the hatchet.
But Death has a funny way of doing his job in the city. Sometimes he makes a grand fanfare of his arrival. Other times, he comes unannounced with a wedding invitation on hand.