La La Land*

lala-landA movie broke my heart: La La Land,written and directed by Damien Chazelle, starred by Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling (better, and tastier, than ever). It speaks about dreams, their price and the paths we leave behind while chasing them.

It hit home too closely, for me.

I cannot define myself but, if I had to, in one word, I´d say I´m a dreamer. And not just a dreamer. A doer. Which means I dream and take the necessary steps to make it happen. Imagine a bull with a goal. It sets its eyes on the goal, breathes heavily and heads towards its goal with all its might, strength and stamina, crashing anything and anyone who stands in its way. That´s me, minus the destruction.

It makes no sense to dream and sit on the sofa, watching Netflix with a bag of chips on my lap. Dreaming is doing, making it happen or, at least, trying to. The essence of dreaming is The Chase, the journey we go through when we set our goal and go for it. Achieving is the cherry on top of the cake but, the cake!, don´t forget the cake.

The amount of – seemingly impossible – dreams already come true on my Bucket List is enormous, more than enough to stop me from complaining. I ought to know, by now, there´s not enough time and focus to catch every star in the sky. You choose one, you lose the rest. Sacrificing other life paths/possibilities is a direct consequence of chasing your dream(s).

The loss, the what if, the maturity of contentment with what we have achieved, the understanding that, in fact, we cannot have it all hurts. I´m not going to lie. It does hurt. Especially if you´re someone who carries different dreams, all of them big and heading in different directions.

But living is choosing and choosing implies losing.

The trick, if there is one, may be to follow your heart and always do what your soul asks for, in each moment. That integrity makes it all a little bit smoother.

No matter what the exterior world thinks, I´ve always done what set my heart on fire. Despite my – more than – obvious artistic inclinations (I´ve made my first public dance appearance on television at the age of 5 and felt I had arrived home), my family thought I was going to be a bad ass lawyer.

-She´s got the brains and the argumentative talent! – My grandfather would announce to the agreement of my parents.

Acting pulled me by the hair, taking me away from dance and court rooms, so I applied to the Acting Conservatoire and got accepted, after an excruciating set of auditions with the crème de la crème of the Portuguese theatre and cinema. Everything was set: I was studying with the best in the field, hopes were high around me; I started working on television and theatre, while studying, before I finished the course. Then I met Oriental Dance.

I fell in love with it. My acting teachers thought I was crazy to throw away my actress talent and education and pursue something as exotic and erratic as “bellydance”, the term they used.

I started working in the field, travelling to Egypt on my own, to study and research, and created a market from scratch. There was nothing more than a workshop here and there, when I started. One year and a half after I embarked on the Oriental Dance Journey, a full market, one that my students would enjoy in the years that followed, existed. And it was thriving. Off my check list. Done.

Next!

I left everything behind – the comfort, the conquered territory, my family, friends and boyfriend – and launched myself into an im-possible dream: to become a successful Oriental Dancer in Egypt, the Mecca of that art form, the most competitive and desired market in the world, composed of lobbies, prostitution and deception.

Needless to mention the obstacles I faced, enough to turn Jesus into Judas, but I´ll tell you this: I´ve made it. My way, no less. I´ve learnt the language, the culture and the rules and I´ve made it happen on my own terms. Not selling my soul to the devil, the most widely offered shortcut to stardom, forgetting who I was or what I stand for. I´ve made it MY WAY. But I also lost.

I lost other paths I´d love to have pursued, relationships, mental health (part of it, at least), patience, inoccence (part of it, at least), time. You gotta lose in order to win, as frustrating as that may seem. You know what? That´s all right.
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“You must always keep in mind that a path is only a path. Each path is only one of a million paths. If you feel that you must now follow it, you need not stay with it under any circumstances. Any path is only a path. There is no affront to yourself or others in dropping a path if that is what your heart tells you to do. But your decision to keep on a path or to leave it must be free of fear and ambition. I caution you: look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary. Then ask yourself and yourself alone this one question. Does this path have a heart? All paths are the same. They lead nowhere. They are paths going through the brush or into the brush or under the brush of the Universe. The only question is: Does this path have a heart? If it does, then it is a good path. If it doesn’t, then it is of no use.”

– Carlos Castaneda
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Photo Credit: Phil Borges,Tibet Project, ‘Tasang Dolma & Tashi Dolma’

(Via Irene Statz)

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