New Friend: Practicality Partners

“Failures, repeated failures, are finger post on the road to achievement.
One fails forward toward success.”

-C.S. Lewis

I recently worked with a director who took a college course about marketing himself as an actor. Now I wasn’t in the class, but it sounded like a course in teaching young artists about practicality. The professor asked the class to think about what roles they would honestly be cast for in an open audition. “Go ahead and typecast yourself, kids. I’m still dealing with several HR complaints from last semester.”  That’s not a direct quote, but the archetype of the professor in my head says this while wearing an “I’m here to fuck the freshman” t-shirt.

The instructor also required the class to keep a dream journal, which would be reviewed at the end of the semester.  It was a place where the students could write down all their creative dreams and ambitions. The professor having read the journals, entered on the last day of the semester and broke into tears. None of the students wrote about preforming on Broadway, or being cast as the lead in a blockbuster film. Their dreams were practical. The professor cried because these books were the one place they were supposed to abandon practicality and write about their wildest dreams. Instead they abandoned their dreams and settled for practicality.

This experience seems awful for everyone involved, but why then do people enroll themselves into similar relationships with significant others? A practicality partner is a person who feeds their partner the fear of failure more than they feed encouragement. A “wet blanket” a la Julia Cameron, author of “The Artist Way.” To give a R. Kelly definition: “You know when you’re trying to be a famous R&B musician, and your girl tells you to be practical and get a real job? She’s a practicality partner, or a PP – Wait, that’s something else.”

This practicality is meant as a way of being helpful, but as a person with a dream, any dream, there are enough voices in the world, nonetheless your own head, crashing that dream back to reality; you don’t also need it from someone you’re dating.  I get it, the people who care about you have a right to be worried, but it’s as frustrating as engaging a conversation with someone who just states the obvious.

“Babe, I want to fly like Superman”

“No-one has ever done that before.”

“No shit, Sherlock! Can I dream? People can levitate, why can’t I fly?”

I’m a dreamer. I remember sitting in the back of the class with my head in the clouds, and it still is. Except the classroom has been replaced with dinner reservations for two, and the professor replaced with the beautiful woman on the other side of the table. She still wears the “I’m here to fuck the freshman” t-shirt.  Today’s lecture is on Black Icarus, or how I’ll burn myself out before there’s any wind underneath my wings.

There is nothing practical about dreams, love, or life. Every 100 years a whole new set of people occupy the Earth. What’s practical about that? Seriously, less than two-percent of the American population lives past the age of 100, according to an American Community Survey. And I’m black – shit is looking real bleak over here! So no, I’m not going to be practical. Hell, I’m even going to use double negatives! I can’t spend 100 (64-79) years in practicality. I’m aware that I can’t stop the world from telling me to be practical, but I can ask this of the person across the table. 

There are enough voices telling me that, “No-one has done it before,” or, “This is a fine establishment,” “Be sensible and get off the table.” It’s harder to jump if she scares me away from the edge, but either way I have to jump. You can’t soar if you don’t jump (I warned you about the double negatives). People can call me crazy, but knowing that she wants me to fly makes me feel less insane about daring to jump day after day. Forget the fact that we’re banned from a number of establishments – I have a dream!

Dare me to exist outside of practicality, because a handful of people in the world will ever encourage someone to follow their dreams. The fear of falling doesn’t help anyone grow; we grow by failing. Dare your partner to dream and in return they’ll work to make your dreams come true. Dare me to dream.

Giovanni Kavota

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