Be a Doer, Not a Dreamer

Mirror of Erised | Mary GrandPré's
Mirror of Erised | Mary GrandPré’

When it comes to making the most mundane of decisions I get quite the crippling case of Immobulus. But for some reason when I need to decide whether or not to splurge on a plane ticket to Seattle (yes!) or buy a one way ticket to New York (of course!) I make snap decisions as if I just drank a whole bottle of Felix Felicis.

That being said, last night, I was all well and happy to attend the long-looking-forward to First Aid Kit concert at Webster Hall, only, days before the event I found out that Cristina Henríquez was reading at BookCourt near my apartment. I was suddenly cursed yet again with indecision and sat on my living room floor, sipping late afternoon coffee out of my favorite ER mug, manically g-chatting and texting friends on what to do with A Different World on Hulu playing in the background.

But then I remembered Shonda Rhimes’ Dartmouth commencement speech where she persuaded us (us as in the world, not as a Dartmouth graduate) to “do” instead of “dream.” She said:

So, Lesson One, I guess is: Ditch the dream and be a doer, not a dreamer. Maybe you know exactly what it is you dream of being, or maybe you’re paralyzed because you have no idea what your passion is. The truth is, it doesn’t matter. You don’t have to know. You just have to keep moving forward. You just have to keep doing something, seizing the next opportunity, staying open to trying something new. It doesn’t have to fit your vision of the perfect job or the perfect life. Perfect is boring and dreams are not real. Just … do. So you think, “I wish I could travel.” Great. Sell your crappy car, buy a ticket to Bangkok, and go. Right now. I’m serious.

While I know she means for us (again, not a Dartmouth grad) to apply this truth to the overarching ideas of how we lead our lives, I was suddenly inspired by her words, at that moment, while Dwayne and Whitley bickered on my distant television screen. “Mia,” I said to myself, “You want to do both don’t you?” Pause. “Then don’t dream about one or the other, just do!” And so, I leapt from my position on the floor, turned off various electronic devices, dumped my mug of coffee into the sink, threw on something decent, and ran out the door to catch the bus.


This would be my second time at BookCourt. Previously, my roommate recommended The Sackett Street Writers’ Workshop to me and I saw that they were holding a reading there one evening in my distant past. It so happened that again the SSWW was now hosting Cristina Henríquez along with three other authors. While the other authors held my attentions, it wasn’t until I saw Cristina take to the podium that I was truly engrossed.

Having recently finished The Book of Unknown Americans (everyone should read it!) I couldn’t help but reshape the character perspectives she read from ever so slightly in my head. Her speech was laced with a Spanish accent and Henríquez morphed into an elegant and powerful form of respectful defiance as she finished the last phrases of her reading. It was a library copy that I had read, but after talking with her (she’s so approachable and friendly and liked my sandals!) and listening to her read, I immediately bought a copy then and asked that she sign it for me.

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Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset


After relishing in the literary delights of Julia Fierro, Bret Anthony Johnston, Kevin Clouther and Cristina Henríquez at BookCourt, I scurried down the street, weaving between the evening’s Brooklynites, and hopped on a Manhattan bound train to the East Village. It was completely dark when I popped out of the subway and Willy Mason had just finished his set on the hallowed stage at Webster Hall.

Being as short as I am, I passively fought for a place to stand. It wasn’t until I eavesdropped on a trio trying to decide whether or not to sneak into the VIP did I jockey for my prime standing vantage point from the balcony, front row, stage left. I watched below as the sea of bodies moved to the soothing tunes of First Aid Kit and sang along to “Lion’s Roar” and “Ghost Town.” A man in a blue KC hat was getting serious action from his girlfriend below me and I befriended other shorties like myself who passive aggressively made their way beside me.

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Processed with VSCOcam with b5 preset


Because of my action to just “do” instead of “dream,” I had a pretty epic night. I hate to think that if I had just sat there, indulging in nostalgia, watching A Different World on Hulu that I wouldn’t know any better. Too, if I had picked one event over the other, I knew I would have been disappointed in myself. But the fact that I at least tried to do both and then succeeded just proves that doing is way better than dreaming. After all, what do I have to lose?




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