Sunday Snippet: Mitch Hedberg (1968 - 2005)

“I’m sick of following my dreams. I’m just going to ask them where they’re going and hook up with them later.”

Do what you love and the money will follow. Follow your dreams and everything else will fall into place. Chase your dreams, because they’re not going to chase you.

Just Out of Reach

There are all kinds of sentiments out there that say you should follow your dreams. If you have the ambition to be a professional football player in the NFL, you should do your best to get into the NFL. If you have the goal of becoming a published author, you better get started on writing that book. That’s all well and good, but life isn’t quite so straightforward.

I’ve said before that you shouldn’t follow your dreams, because it means that you will always be at least one step behind. If you keep following, you’ll never catch up. Worse yet, you may have those goals that you want to pursue “some day,” but “some day” never comes. You have to stop wishing for success and start doing something about it. Start chasing those goals.

The Less Direct Route

Late comedian Mitch Hedberg disagrees. I understand that he was just making a joke with the quote above, but there is something richly profound in there. Life is not a straightforward line. You don’t begin at a start line and end at a finish line. You meander. You get distracted. You go on unexpected tangents and you might realize that you have a different goal in mind altogether.

Even if you have the same destination in mind the whole time, you can take an entirely different path to get there than someone else who is aiming for the same destination. In this sense, Hedberg is right. You don’t need to “follow” your dreams the way that you would follow a carrot dangling on a stick. You don’t have to take the pre-defined path that is laid before you.

By attempting the road less traveled, you may indeed find a shortcut to your destination and “hook up” with your dreams sooner. Or, you may find a longer road, but it happens to be one that is more interesting. It’s like taking a slow, but winding mountain pass rather than flying back on the freeway. You see more things. You experience more things. Your life is richer. In this way, you soon learn that life is about the journey and not about the destination.

Go Your Own Way

It’s not so much about achieving your goals and making your dreams a reality, though that is naturally a pretty good thing. Instead, it’s more about the experiences that you have along the way. Don’t follow your dreams. Work hard, go your own way, and “hook up with them later.”

Here is one of the final performances by Mitch Hedberg, taken from the Just for Laughs in 2004.