Running Down a Dream

Seth JacobThe dream of moving to Prague was planted over 20 years ago. I visited this city and was mesmerized by the place.

The gothic buildings, beautiful people, and artistic aura vibed with my soul. It was just after the fall of communism, and a coat of black dust seemed to cover everything. A scene from that time has stuck with me to this day. A historic apartment building had been cleaned of the black dust, revealing its original, vibrant, pastel color. The connected buildings hadn’t been cleaned yet, creating a poignant contrast. This scene seemed to represent the coming back to life of this city.


Prague Castle.
I took this photo of Prague Castle during my first visit. I've carried it around for the past 2 years as a source of inspiration.

I really wanted to live here! I had never experienced wanting to live in a new place like this before. At the time though, the circumstances of life seemed too great to extract myself from. This dream got filed away in that place where unrealized dreams go to either hibernate or die. This one never died, even though I didn’t realize it until almost 20 years later. During that nearly 20 years life was really good. I had much success and personal growth. I also had my share of failures.

One of those failures was falling into the trap that often comes with pursuing “The American Dream.” The trap of chasing and encumbering myself with obligations and material possessions. Unknowingly, these things were insidiously sapping my spirit. Fortunately, a couple years ago, I had the insight to start releasing myself from this trap. Little by little I started letting go of "things."  I moved into a smaller space. I found myself satisfied with less. It’s amazing how much life energy gets freed up when you stop chasing things you don’t really want or need. As the cloud of my unrealized confusion started to clear, that dormant dream of moving to Prague revealed itself again. After some soul searching I realized that dream was still alive. It hadn’t died.

A little over 2 years ago I declared my intention to move to Prague. Now the real work had to start. At the time I was recovering from the result of a trifecta of recession, divorce, and bad financial decisions. The divorce was healthy and amicable, but still a financial hit nonetheless. I had a mountain of debt to pay off and other major mountains to move to make this dream happen.

In the movie “Into the Wild,” Chris McCandless burns his remaining cash on his epic journey to free himself from the bonds of society. Later, he is asked by some traveling companions why he did it. His response: “I don't need money, it makes people cautious.”

Row apartments similar to the soot-covered ones I saw during my first visit

This has always stuck with me as one of those pitfalls humans slip into, myself included. Of course I didn’t burn my money before leaving for Prague; however, I realized that I was going to have to give up a certain security to make this happen. For a year, or possibly longer, I would have to stop doing the very work that has sustained me my entire adult life.

This was a good thing. A life devoted to just pursuing security not only makes you cautious, it also dulls your edge.   My edge had become very dull. I was working in the real estate business and was quite successful, but the true joy had died a long time ago. I wasn’t fully there. Absent an edge, life starts to become a real version of that movie "Groundhog Day," same fucking thing over and over again. I’ve known people worth millions, but their lives are all about getting just a little more security so they can then do what they really want to do someday--BORING! And it's not just the illusion of needing financial security that keeps people from "jumping."  Most people have their "thing" - whatever it is.

So, it’s been 26 months since I made that declaration. I've worked really hard, moved some mountains. I've gone through some dark places of questioning and not knowing. All the while, friends and family constantly asking, "so when's the move date?" Not being able to give a definite answer because I was usually facing another mountain I didn't know how I was going to move. But inside of my commitment, amazing serendipity and seemingly miraculous results have happened over the past 2 years. A sign that I've been on the right path.

Now, here I am, sitting in a pub in Prague writing this. I've been here less than a week. I packed up my remaining "things," put my house up for rent, and turned my customers over to people who will take great care of them. The plan is to live here a year and see what opens up. I have some money saved but will have to create a new gig for myself. There's no magic gravy train funding this venture. I left a booming real estate market at the peak of my earning potential. I could have stuck it out another year or two, made a lot more money and acquired a little more "security."

No thank you.

I'll be devoting my time to expanding my portfolio of stock and fine art photographic images. My new full time job is to bring beauty into this world through photography and whatever other forms have yet to reveal themselves. No sure bet, like continuing what I was "successful" at. There’s a lot of figuring out to do. There are a lot of unknowns. Literally, almost everything in my new world is foreign. However, there is one thing I'm absolutely certain of:

The edge is back.

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"

Mary Oliver


24 thoughts on “Running Down a Dream

  1. Shawna Wright

    What an inspiring and touching story. How very true about not staying in the security trap we fall victim too, which keeps us from seeing the world. Thank you for sharing this emotional, piercing, transcending journey.

  2. Alyssa Atias

    Wow, great post Seth! I look forward to reading more from you. Enjoy this new chapter of life.

  3. Reina

    Looking forward to the beautiful art and creativity that will come from this new edge. Inspirational post, Seth. Let the adventure begin 🙂

  4. Seth, I'm so happy for you! And so incredibly inspired! My only regret is not getting a chance to visit with you more in person the last time we crossed paths. I wish you all the best in your new adventure and hope to see you again!

  5. elisa magliulo-alamanou

    Thank you for sharing you journey with us all. Its a beautiful time ahead for you and I feel lucky that you are sharing it with us all...much love Seth!

  6. Ellen Simons

    I'm so happy to read this. I always knew you to be an incredible photographer, and although you helped me find my house in NM, and even helped with my shine through your real work of showing us the beauty you see, through your photographs. Wishing you much love, happiness and beauty.

  7. Ava

    Seth, you're an inspiration! "I'll be devoting my time to expanding my portfolio of stock and fine art photographic images. My new full time job is to bring beauty into this world through photography and whatever other forms have yet to reveal themselves." You brought beauty to 15K people with your 2014 New Mexico Magazine Calendar. Perhaps all that love helped move those mountains.

  8. Mary Beth Beckmann

    So lovely to read an essay on all it took to get you to Prague! Bravo for that first of all. I am sending you blessings for your journey wishing you many joyful moments living on the edge. It is a brave thing to do in today's world but you are just the man to do it! Chin up, chest out, shoulders back, onward and upward towards many creative masterpieces and a triumphant personal experience you never could have imagined. Here's to keeping your overhead low so you can focus on your photography and the excitement of having allowed yourself to realize this dream. God bless you on your journey. Stay safe and warm and feel the love and support from all your friends and family back here in New Mexico. Love and big warm hugs across these ethers Seth. Hope you can make some money from your blog site, too.

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