Karen Bayly

Author and Copywriter

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Boredom, Dreams, and Happiness

I’ve been a teensy bit jaded with life lately. Okay, make that a big chunk bored. It’s not just me either. I hear this sentiment echoed by friends and acquaintances around the world. Isolation highlights where our lives aren’t functioning so well, but it also underscores something more insidious. Suddenly, we’re confronted with the notion that maybe things weren’t so great before the pandemic struck. It strips us of any illusion that our schemes and strategies were working for us. We’re challenged to find alternative ways of handling what is lacking - and it isn’t easy to find solutions.

In fact, it’s frustrating. I could list all my poor choices and all the things I didn’t do - or even did do - but none of it gets me anywhere. And ultimately, my messy past is the well-spring of my creativity. That’s not a bad thing.

However, I now face a life where I’m fresh out of grand visions for the future. Also, I no longer accept that dreams come true for most people. There. I’ve said it. This probably makes me a positivity pariah, but I don’t care.

The curse of this modern world is that we’ve been told we deserve our bliss, and that if we follow our dreams, amazing things will happen. Our ancestors rarely entertained such ideas. Yet they did their best with what they had, and there is no reason to believe that none of them had fulfilling lives. Maybe they didn’t achieve fame, or neglected to write a book, or failed to travel the globe. But could it be that they were content, if not happy, despite living an ordinary life?

I find it interesting that my fictional characters hardly ever express their dreams, hopes and expectations. If they do, these are passing mentions. They do not define the person. For me, a character’s purpose is to tell their story through their actions and words. These beings live moment by moment, dealing with whatever comes their way, rising above their shortcomings, and discovering their true selves.

Could it be there’s a message here? Perhaps the trick is to learn to make the best of what life gives us, no matter how little or inconsequential it seems. Acceptance of what is, with no expectation of change, may be the most difficult lesson anyone can master. Maybe dreams are trivial, and our current focus on our bliss is primarily a marketing ploy. To quote the inimitable William Goldman via the Dread Pirate Roberts aka Wesley in The Princess Bride (whew!):

I’m not suggesting that a shift for the better never happens nor that we have should no goals whatsoever. Far from it. It’s important to our wellbeing to aim for something we think will be gratifying. So you wish to travel through Europe? Excellent. Find the means to do so, if you can. Want to be a working actor? Go for it. Acting is a tough business, but you won’t know what you can do unless you try.

But resist the tendency to make your happiness dependent on whether or not you achieve your ambitions. To lose a dream is cause for grief. To realise a dream is a bonus. Yet neither are the endgame. And gratitude for the small things is a gift.

A wise person once said to keep moving forward one step at a time, and at each stop, see what the next best step is. That’s what I plan to do, even though it feels like I’m wearing lead boots at times!


Black Beacon Books have accepted my short story “Foul Beasts” for their Murder and Machinery Anthology, slated for publication in 2021. It’s set in the world of Fortitude, but not in The Republic of Brittania and with a new principal character. However, you may recognise the bad guys.


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