The Little Fire That Could

BY: Peter Dunn – “The Cynical Dreamer”

Last NYE I wore a pretty epic gold sequins blazer, that I had written: “Fuck 2017”, on the back in black sequins. 2017 was a rough one for me. Between politics and personal events, trials, and tribulations. I more or less felt like I was treading water the entire year. It was a feeling I didn’t enjoy. 

2018 turned out to be a rougher one.

This world and my world lost a lot of amazing people. I lost regulars at my bar, friends I’ve had for a decade, and someone who had my heart for a period of time. Dealing with loss is a very, very hard part of adulting. Realizing it’s going to happen, and it’s going to happen to more and more people as we get older. We all have to die at some point. It’s just difficult finding fairness in it at times. However, life isn’t fair and we are reminded of that constantly. Turn on a television or read a newspaper and it’s everywhere. Adulting is being able to find the beauty in those dark times. Of being able to recall a beautiful memory shared with that person, or the universe randomly putting something in your way, at a certain time, that instantly brings that person’s spirit back to you. A smell, a color, a place, a sign. They’re everywhere. Look for them, and find all that beauty, and decide that that person is always still with you. Souls stick around forever, and we are never alone. I try to remind myself of this daily since I so often feel the opposite.

2018 also showed me that I am far too complacent with things in my life. It’s interesting because I feel like to others, I am the furthest from that. But when I really put things on paper (which I do constantly), the truth is there. I will stand, as opposed to saying “excuse me” to sit. I will do things to avoid human interaction, and then when I have it, I immediately shrink. My anxiety of talking on the phone becomes more and more ridiculous as I get older, and I have literally lost opportunities due to it. I am realizing I am more of an introvert than I ever thought I was, and while that’s ok, I also feel as if I’m not properly living my life to the fullest because of it. We only live this life once, and I am such a big talker for living it to the fullest. And I, without a doubt, used to do that, but something has changed, and it’s hindering me from living every day with that mentality. These are my things to work on. Step one is always recognizing the problem, right? Lol

And then, of course, there are the men. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: Peter has INCREDIBLE taste in friends. Peter has TERRIBLE taste in men. Again, step one of progress is always recognizing the problem, right? RIGHT?! Each time I would finally separate myself from one problematic guy, another would arrive. In 2018, I was physically assaulted by one, sexually assaulted by another, and sprinkled throughout were other problems. My need to attempt to fix people has always been a thing. When I was younger, that was fine, because children’s problems are usually, not that serious. I could help mediate friends arguments, help a friend dress better, help a friend talk their parents into letting them get a dog, etc. As an adult, people’s problems, are PROBLEMS. Y’all, there are some FUCKED UP people out there, and they loveeeee to find their way to me. I’m learning that at times I just need to say no, step away, and realize that not everyone wants help. At least not presently. Some people just want someone to cuddle their issues so they can stay exactly how they are. And you should stay far away from those people. They damage you, and that damage can affect everything. They’re like drugs: immediate satisfaction, long-term destruction. Stay. Away. Peter.

All of the above resulted in a year that had its highs but had many more lows. Prioritizing my mental health has always been a problem for me, but I feel like I’ve made progress in changing that, not only because I need to, but because I WANT to. 

“God Peter, did anything good happen to you this year, you sound miserable, you might say?”, and yes, good things did happen.

I refound my love of producing. That side of my job has passion in it again and doesn’t just feel like work.

I became better at learning to say the word no. I learned that it is ok and that it feels good sometimes. I also found that I require time to just do nothing but be in my own thoughts and also to clear my mind. 

I recently met someone that feels different from the rest and IS different from the rest. From his energy to his mind, to the way he treats me and interacts with others, it’s just on an entirely different level from the fuckboys of the past couple of years. It’s nice, and both speaking to and just being around him, simply feels, effortless. Who knows where that will actually go, but I’m just verbally putting it out into the universe because I like it. I like something feeling easy and right, yet exciting and new. 

But most importantly, this year I began to love the person that I am again. When I was little, I liked who I was, and I believed in that person. But for the past 20 years or so, I’ve hated myself. Not for any specific reason, but just because that’s what my brain chemistry did. My brain was and has always been my favorite part of my body. Having my brain then do that to me was almost impossible to handle or deal with. This year I kind of took some steps back to really be able to see and hear me as a person, and to access what I mean to people, and what I mean to me. I’m a damn good human being. I’m intelligent, well spoken, funny, loyal, and I like telling people how great they are. I’m compassionate to others, and take time to talk to people I feel like are a little overlooked or ignored. I try to be the man that I think my mother would be proud of. I used to think I was undeserving of friends or love, which I also think is subconsciously one of the reasons that I can be so bad at keeping in touch with people. My inner psyche was telling myself that I didn’t deserve those people. But I am indeed deserving of friends and love, and I finally know that and can proudly state it. 

Loving yourself feels pretty great. I still have a way to go, but the progress made this year specifically, is monumental, and for that, I am so so grateful. 

I have a lot of big plans for 2019. What’s thrilling is that they feel tangible. I can smell them, taste them, and feel them, which hasn’t always been the case with goals. When I was little, I thought I was unstoppable. As an adult, I know I’m not. However, I am now recognizing a small but powerful fire in there, that’s always been there, but that hadn’t been truly cultivated or taken care of for far too long. He’s burning again, and he’s about to burn brighter than ever before. 

In 2019 I will be better at money budgeting and time management. I will.

In 2019 I will continue to be the person I am while continuing to grow.

In 2019 I will make sure I go on at least one vacation.

In 2019 I will check in and on with my mother more often.

In 2019 I will get back on a healthy diet and fitness program and love my body because it’s the only one I have.

In 2019 I will work on loving me a little more each day, because I deserve it.

What about you? 

If you’ve lost it, refind that fire, set it aflame, cultivate and shine the way you were intended to. We can all light the night sky like a firefly.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year. Xx


Peter William Dunn is a born and raised New Yorker, who is currently a freelance writer, producer, director and sometimes actor in the city.

His professional passions include:  film, music, literature, helping other artists thrive and all around storytelling

His personal passions include: puppies, babies, black and white milkshakes, and attractive men with accents (he has an extra strong track record for attracting emotionally unavailable men, but don’t tell him we told you that, and don’t yell at him for speaking in third person right now).

His current loves are his dog, Domino, a whiskey neat, and in case you didn’t know, his mother is the greatest human being on earth

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