There are going to be times when you learn more about the world you’re entering and feel defeated when you see the gap between the ideal and the reality… But that’s something we’ll all face. The people that face those obstacles and overcome them are people whose dreams come true.
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Hikari Nakamura is in her final year of elementary school just days from graduating when the earthquake of 9.0 magnitude hits Japan. She finds her school in rubbles, her classmates missing and a single thought embedded in her mind:
“Is it safe yet?”
Based on the heart breaking true story of Okawa Elementary school that was all but wiped out during the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunamis that tore apart the nation.
Will Hikari end up making it to her junior high entrance ceremony and be able to wear her new buttoned blazer? Or will she find herself lost in the sea of murky waters that engulfed the cost of Japan that day when the world stood still - watching in horror?
Some dreams are small and easily fulfilled yet take a long time to pan out depending how fortunate you are in life. Sometimes it seems like everyone is beating you, born into better circumstances to help lift them up quicker.
Sometimes dreams are hard and take a lot of guts, effort, belief and a little luck. But without them we can never grow. Humans need dreams.
I don’t really know much on the dream front, so I guess my words are basically meaningless. I haven’t had a real dream since I was ten years old and gushed to anyone who would listen,
“I want to be an author when I grow up!!”
And I had the determination to match. I had more motivation in my childhood than in my teen years when something like determination could help a little.
During primary school each recess and lunch break I would sit up in the library on our excessively large snake shaped beanbag and write. When the bell rang to go back to class I wouldn’t move an inch – not until I finished my paragraph or thought. I was slightly obsessed. I can’t exactly brag about any talent but with stories mostly about talking frogs, unicorns and kidnapped dogs; although that is what appealed to me so I wrote it with feverish excitement. My vocabulary was appalling and I was always asking a friend of mine,
“What’s a word for saying something sadly?”
“Solemnly,” She told me, writing the spelling down for me. Yes I was also a crazy bad speller as well. My dream seemed pitiful right?
“You are so clever!” I would exclaim excitedly, quickly putting the word down in my story. I learnt a lot of words from her – she basically got me through school then to be honest. I can’t say I was the smartest jacket on the rack.
Maybe my knowledge for words was bad due to the fact I never read. I actually think I started writing before I started reading book to myself. I remember one day the same friend who told me new words sat on the edge of the sandpit with ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,’ embraced against her chest.
“You are reading THAT!?” I had shouted in shock, unable to comprehend how someone could read a book of that size. Her bookmark was half an inch from the end of the paperback. “That would take years!!”
“This is the second time I have read it, it doesn’t take that long.” I had shaken my head, I simply could not understand. I had never read a book to myself that wasn’t one of those small picture books and I had yet to be educated on Harry Potter. The only books I heard were the books our teachers read in class which included a lot of short kid’s books from Australian authors like Paul Jennings. I remember one had a cover with a bum destroying a city.
But then teachers introduced ‘Dear Reading’ to us where we were forced to bring a book to class to read silently for thirty minutes every day. I remember wishing I could just write instead of read, but that was out of the picture. So as a class once a week our teacher walked us to the local library. We had our own library but they liked giving us the variety of choices that the local library offered.
I was fanatic about a television series called, ‘Charmed’ for most on my primary school days so while forced to the library I noticed a charmed novel and chose that to read.
I loved reading the charmed books. And they were a good challenge, aimed more for young adults and adults. I was a little too crazy about Charmed to be good. My breaks ended up being split between writing stories and acting out the newest episode with my friends. I always played Piper Halliwell. I remember once I gave birth to a Baby Born doll because Piper had a boy called Wyatt. I wonder if the teachers on play ground duty thought we had some serious issues to contend with. I look back and feel embarrassed for myself. Either way a few episodes after that one we seemed to have stopped acting. Maybe it was because a boy called Trevor threw rocks at us from the bushes or we got kicked out of that part of the play ground. It’s a mystery. So I think we took to making a dead moth graveyard instead.
I don’t know if all kids were as troubled as us.
But back to writing. Outside of school I spent hours upon hours laying on the carpeted floor of my bedroom writing. I was so determined and always forced my friends, teachers and family to read my stories. Maybe that is why I kept at it, because I had their encouraging voices in my head saying it was great and you could do it! So I always finished what I wrote. I admire that passion I had. Even if I couldn’t think of a great ending, or I wasn’t happy with it – I wrote and I finished it.
But things change. I can’t pin point what happened, but I somehow seemed to lose confidence and determination. Maybe it was the day I told my Dad,
“I’m going to be an Author.” I was so damn happy with the biggest smile on my face, completely proud. Not even in high school and I knew what I wanted to do with utter certainly. I had improved so much. I can say now that in primary school I could technically write better than many high schoolers in year ten. I’m not being conceited either, I could never of done that without effort. I thoroughly researched the art of writing and learnt how to write correct dialogue and sentence structure through books. Taking a new sentence for dialogue seemed difficult for high school kids at my high school.
But by Dad had looked me right in the face and said,
“You can’t JUST be an author.” He said in all seriousness. Mum wasn’t here, she didn’t need to be. Mum had always known my dreams and supported me as much as someone who didn’t know writing could. She wasn’t a reader at all, neither was my Dad. I don’t know where my aspirations started at all.
“Why not?” I had asked, slightly teary with my confidence wavering.
“Because you can’t just make a living from writing, you need to do something else as well.” It was like a slap, because he was right. I knew he was right and I hated hearing it because in my heart I could not even feel the nudge of another passion close to me as words.
It should have been motivation to prove him wrong, yet his words got to me. I don’t know why but they did. I was eleven or twelve and maybe my resolve was weak enough to be shattered easily by another’s words. Maybe I loved the coddling more than the facts.
But after that it was like I couldn’t write with the same determined vigour I once held. I’m sure it was a combination of factors that I just cannot remember this many years into the future. After his words I took to loosing myself in books and not writing them. I finally picked up Harry Potter after seeing the shining ‘Goblet of Fire’ gleaming from a shelf at my local library on a whim. Not even in chronological order I read it within two weeks after watching the films to fill in the gaps. Summer holidays came and I was stuck at my Nan’s house while my parents were away – every Harry Potter book piled high on her spare room’s floor. I started with ‘The Half Blood Prince’ next and then back to ‘The Philosophers Stone’ and the rest. I read that huge ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix’ my friend had read last. I remembered reading it defeated, actually crying in that spare bed. I could never write something so spectacular, something that makes you want to stuff your head in your pillow and sob for what happens next. It was late at night yet I picked up ‘The Prisoner of Azkaban’ and started reading it again. It had been my favourite. In those two or three weeks I stayed with Nan I completed every single Harry Potter book and started for round two immediately after. How could I not have read these before? I sat on my bed and read all day and I remember being really sick at the end of my stay and still I wouldn’t stop reading.
So high school started. I still loved writing but I didn’t write anything outside of class work. I was always top of my class. But that meant nothing to me because I could never be happy with my writing any more. In my later years I tried to write again but I never finished anything. I took my work too seriously, constantly comparing my work to others and deeming it not good enough. Not good enough to write so I can just write for a living.
I had become my own worst enemy. Writing a paragraph would take an hour and not minute, each adjective scrutinised, every action questioned. It was frustrating.
And then J.K.Rowling came on television one evening when I was sitting down on the couch flicking through stations. It was her story. How she had came to be who she is now. And you know what, Jo didn’t have it easy, actually she had an incredibly hard life. And because of all her struggles she was given the inspiration of her stories that would capture so many children and adults across the world.
And then I thought, why am I rushing? I was trying to squeeze ideas out of myself that were brilliant and touching as scenes a woman like J.K.Rowling could produce. I had nowhere close the life experiences she had.
I needed to experience the world before I could even think of producing something I could be proud of.
So I started writing again. It was hard – it is still hard. I come up with many ideas that I never stick out and never finish. But unlike primary school I was aiming for stories longer than just a couple of sheets of torn note paper. Sure there are people younger than me who have published amazing books – Christopher Paolini had ‘Eragon’ written and published by the age of nineteen.
I don’t know, I am probably just making excuses. But satisfying ideas didn’t come to me often, and when they did they lost their momentum easily. This is a lack of skill and confidence on my behalf I know that well.
Yet I can’t stop thinking that if I go out and actually EXPERIENCE the world that I can write something about it. So this is how one dream lead to the next.
I want to see the world and I want to write about it. No. I HAVE to. This is my new resolve.
So for now I think writing anything at all is better than nothing. I will write short stories that I can finish before moving onto bigger things. I will read and write about things I normally wouldn’t read and write about. And I won’t compare myself to others. As long as I can write something that can touch even a handful of people I will be content. Writing for a living is a dream on the distant horizon that I still aim for but I know it isn’t that easy. My resolve sounds a little weak but I don’t care.
I just want to feel the experiences myself that the characters have experienced in the printed words I have read. I want my life to feel like a book.
So I have applied to work in Japan next year in the ski field. Alone, without any friends or family in a country that doesn’t understand my words. I’ve never been away from home without my family for longer than a week. I haven’t been on a plane since I was eight and never have I been alone on one.
But I don’t care. I know I am going to be terrified yet at the same time just thinking about it I get a chill of excitement tingling across my skin. I feel as though I HAVE to do this, like branching out alone is the only way I can grow as a person.
Without motivation how could we step forward?
Without dreams to reach for how can we ever grow?
Is what I have been telling myself the years I fell pitted in a ditch of despair when my writing aspirations seemed to had slivered away. I thought: “What can I do when I grow up?”
A baby would never learn to walk if it didn’t have a reason to walk. It looks into the faces of its parents and wants to reach into their open arms as quickly as it possibly can. So it walks.
It’s an essential small step of growing up.
”So why can’t I start small?” I asked myself. “Why do I have to choose my dreams now?”
And you know what, the answer took years. But the answer: “You don’t”
Take stepping stones; set yourself small goals before the big ones. If you reach the small you will be more motivated to grab the big. It’s in the journey you discover yourself.
And maybe in my journey I will find that I am meant to write; a childhood dream that has been close to my heart. Or maybe I will find something more about myself.
So for those of you with dreams, you really don’t want them to come true.
You NEED them to come true.
Birds never learned to fly because they wanted to fly. They took the fall and knew they NEEDED to soar back up and survive.
Wanting something is just desires of attainment, like a shiny medal to put on display. But needed is knowing that without your dreams coming true you will never be complete. You don’t need no physical reward but the reward of being complete.
So I don’t want to go to Japan. I NEED to go to Japan.
I need to get lost in a foreign land, I need to take my own fall and learn to fly.
And maybe then I will write again.