This week I was looking at profiles of guys on dating sites. One man had a tagline that caught my eye: Runnin’ Down a Dream. I recognized it as the title for a Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers song which I hadn’t heard in a while, but really like. I looked up the lyrics and the chorus seemed to make sense for a guy on a dating app:
“Yeah runnin’ down a dream
that never would come to me
Workin’ on a mystery, goin’ wherever it leads
Runnin’ down a dream.” (song written by Jeff Lynne, Michael Campbell, Tom Petty)
I mentioned in last week’s post, “Soundtracks of Our Lives,” that songs can carry us at times and I was glad to be pointed back to “Runnin’ Down a Dream.” I love the energy of the song and played it this week when I did my morning exercises. You feel like you’re in the car on that beautiful day with Tom Petty when he sings the opening verse, “Trees flew by, me and Del were singin’ little Runaway. I was flyin’ “
If I were listening to that song while driving, I’d forget everything until I saw the blue lights!
I find the chorus gets stuck in my head– an ear worm that wants to bed down. Runnin’ down versus running after a dream seems to be a more intense action in going for something you desire.
And then the next line further describes the dream as it “never would come to me.” I consider that and believe that many of our dreams don’t come to us without action on our part.
Perhaps the next line is the one that intrigues me the most:
“Workin’ on a mystery, goin’ wherever it leads.”
The mystery of a dream is how it will turn out– how what you’ve dreamed of will actually be compared to how you’ve imagined it. The process of how things unfold is part of that mystery. In the song, mystery has the control and takes the lead, pulling the dreamer in the direction to where he’ll realize his dream.
I don’t know how the guy who used the song in his tagline feels about the lyrics; he might of just thought it was a catchy song title that fit his personality. I think about the song applied to the last dream I was runnin’ down: publishing my memoir
For years, I’d improved the story, pitched the memoir at writers’ conferences, developed my marketing plan– all the things that literary agents required. I felt strongly that I needed to get my book out into the world, that it was how I would express my creativity and give to others. I worked and prayed and kept running after that dream of publishing my memoir.
In 2018, I went to the Spiritual Writers’ Conference in Raleigh. I signed up to meet with an agent from Denver who’d worked in the industry for years representing inspirational books. I had a solid, polished book proposal. I handed him my materials and then sat down and gave him my well-rehearsed pitch– an overview of the book highlighting some of the pivotal parts.
He listened and then put my proposal down beside him on the sofa.
“I can’t get a publishing house to take a memoir unless you’re famous.“
He went on to explain how publishing houses depended on name recognition for sales– and that was the bottom line in the business.
I was heart broken. I had worked for years to produce my book and I didn’t want anyone to keep me from my dream.
The agent was kind and spent time talking with me about my memoir. He made suggestions for changing the title and subtitle, and recommended that it be Indie published; I would contract many of same services as a publishing house like cover design, editing, formatting.
When I started down the road to publishing my memoir, I didn’t know where it would lead. I think of the chorus of “Runnin’ Down a Dream” and how I was “workin’ on a mystery, goin’ wherever it leads.” I felt like the Denver agent was the right place for that path to end–and for the beginning of the path to Indie publish. I was not willing to let that dream go when the traditional path was closed to me.
Now, like the guy who chose the song title for his tagline, I’m wondering about the mystery of this new path. I didn’t expect to be going down this road at this time in my life, but here I am.
I like that in the second verse of “Runnin’ Down a Dream” you get the hopeful mood of driving on a sunny day:
“I felt so good like anything was possible” and then he says there’d been unstoppable, cold rain, no sunshine for three days. That drive in the sunshine, with the radio on, was giving him the energy to believe anything was possible. I think of how the past year has tamped our spirits down, the pandemic worse than days of unstoppable rain.
In the last verse, continuing his drive as the sky grows dark, he ends on a hopeful note:
“There’s something good waitin’ down this road
I’m pickin’ up whatever’s mine”
That’s a hopeful end to that pursuit of runnin’ down a dream; it’s good, it’ waitin’, it’s mine.
For me, whether it was the desire to publish my memoir, or now, the desire to find a new man in my life, it’s worth living into the mystery and following where it leads. It may not end up as I’d imagined but will be “something good.”
I’m wondering what dream you’re runnin’ down? Are you able to live into that mystery right now and follow where it leads?
I wish you the best, wherever your dream takes you.