Tuesday, January 08, 2008

A Dream Not Fully Pursued

I often wonder how my life might look to me from a suspended point of view. Retrospection is available and helps put my past in perspective. It teaches me much about who I am and what I want from life based upon where I've been and what decisions I've made. But I often wonder what my life could become if I do not pursue my dreams fully. I look around me and see many people living out daily lives that lack passion and a sense of being "awake." I want to wake them up and help them see again but simultaneously acknowledge that my life could become such an existence if I ignore my dreams.

I often wonder when those dreams (the soul/the daimon/the inner voice, etc.) stop screaming at us for attention. I wonder at what point that inner calling just seems to abandon us because we've abandoned it? And then, as I type this, I feel strongly that the daimon does not abandon us but rather, we strangle it. We bury it deeper and deeper over time, quieting it, convincing ourselves absurd things along the lines of obligations, bad timing, blah, blah, blah. The energy it takes to bury our dreams is greater than the energy it would take to pursue them fully.

A personal fear of mine is that I will live a half life. That I will retain strong awareness of my dreams but settle on the thought of a dream without fully pursuing it. Maybe I'll cheapen my dreams, water them down and try to convince myself that it isn't in the cards for me, that I'm not fortunate or good enough to really live a full life. Maybe I'll buy more French trinkets and continue posting on my blog, convincing myself that I am writing something and I've been to Paris for a week in my lifetime. And when I recognize that no miraculous feeling or way of life ultimately comes from such, I'll resign myself to believe that maybe I'm destined for this half life. [Can you hear my soul screaming violently right now at the thought of such?!]

My very good friend mentioned this movie short from "Paris, Je T'Aime" recently and it is so interesting because I saw almost all of this movie a little over a month ago but didn't catch the ending and this short was one of the last. Upon watching it, I immediately felt a sensation that this woman here could easily be me in 10-15 years if I do not live out my dreams:



My heart aches for this woman because she knows her dreams but she has relegated them to a week's vacation along with some French lessons back in America. She stays in her hotel room most of the time and eats hamburgers and Chinese food while there! It was so sad to hear her mention her ex-boyfriend, wondering what he would have thought of Paris. And then you discover that he has been married with kids for many years since they broke up! And then at the very end she experiences that very powerful feeling... that feeling of simultaneous sadness and joy. She is awake for that very moment and it is so beautiful and yet, in her case, so tragic.

I refuse to be this woman. Please know that there is no cruelty intended in saying such. I want to have hope for her. I want to believe that she will be forever changed and really pursue her dreams and life with more passion and determination. But I don't think that will be the case. I think she will forever return to that sensation of being awake and long for it. However, we all have that ability and yet how easily we allow it to be quieted by daily noise, allowing it to reemerge only as a kind of nostalgia.

I truly cannot be this woman... aware of her dreams yet never pursuing them fully. Her loneliness and emptiness cries out to me. I too am independent and can see myself shutting off and getting a dog and a house and trudging along in a job and stagnant lifestyle. I can be very good at convincing myself things and instead of using my mind to write and explore, I'll use it to imprison myself.

My fellow Francophiles will appreciate my dream of Paris. It is not a vacation I seek or some romantic notion of Paris. Rather, I know that Paris is the gateway to my dreams. If I fully give myself to Paris, all my other dreams will unfold a truly amazing life in due time... one that I cannot attempt to predict. I can say that I do feel with utmost conviction that Paris will truly serve to help unlock my true self... the writer in me. But again, only if I give myself fully to the dream and right now, Paris is the form of my dreams. And living this dream fully means that I will have to live out that experience fully when there (more of this idea to come in later posts).

I'm more than ready. I'm done talking myself out of this dream and this video serves as a poignant reminder of what my half life might look like one day, even in Paris! I want to live a full life. Don't you?

35 comments:

Jen said...

Hmmm, sadly I sound just like that woman! You go for it and we all can live our "dream" through you.

A Girl Like Moi is set in NYC. The second one is in Paris. Good, clean fun. Thanks for visiting my blog!

b said...

Jen... thanks for stopping by my blog! I think most people feel like this woman or worse, will not/cannot identify their dreams.

I've not heard of these books before. Thanks for the recommendation!

P.S. Don't you want to live out your own dreams?!

La Page Française said...

To answer your question at the end of your post: Yes. I want to live a full life too.

It is so true what you say about watering down dreams, trying to convince ourselves that they are not important, or that they are not the "right" thing to do. And also, in my case, trying to convince myself that they are not my dreams and that something else is my dream, something which is easier than my true dreams. Because so often, it's so scary to follow our dreams. Depending on what they are, of course, but so often it can be so risky to set in motion the actions to make our dreams come true. Risk of losing what we already have, risk of failing to make them come true.

But I have always felt like I couldn't bear to live an everyday existence if I didn't at least try to make my dreams come true. Years ago, like you, the thought of not at least trying to come to Paris to study French for a while was more than I could bear. I had to at least try, even if everyone around me was getting jobs and settling down. I thank my lucky stars every single night that I am blessed enough to be here, to have found love and a life here. It gives me such a feeling of peace.

I admire your determination to not live a half life, to give a voice to your dreams and to go after them. To at least try. And to not smother them down and try to convince yourself they are not there.

(P.S. You always leave the nicest comments on my blog. Thank you so much for your comments on my past posts.)

mattbg said...

b... I think that living out your dreams is a luxury that not many people in the world have because their options are so limited (either because they haven't been exposed to choices, or because they're living in circumstances where they have to spend their waking days working to survive).

We're exposed to too many choices in this modern society. For most people in the world, the path is straightforward: be born, be raised and educated, get a job, raise a family, and repeat the cycle with a new life. I can't believe we've obliterated this concept from the minds of many amongst a certain generation. The generation behind them seems to have rediscovered its importance, but I think our generation is a lost generation.

Personally, I'd say that, living in the Western world in an increasingly irrelevant country (most are shifting their attention to growing economies), you should follow your dreams as soon as possible. This way of life will come grinding to a halt in the not-too-distant future, and you may never have another opportunity again.

Sorry to be so negative, but that's just the way I see it.

Randal Graves said...

Wonderfully said, b. I liken that feeling to having a pane of glass separating you from your dreams. It's as close as possible, you can almost touch it because you carry it around with you constantly, you can faintly hear it as you would a bubbling, subterranean current. But you cannot break that glass and if you don't, your dream will be relegated to a museum piece that you can see any time you wish, as an old tome or some bones, but you'll never possess it.

Of course, being a first-class cynic, I kind of agree with mattbg's comment. Hopefully you'll be successful where so many of us aren't. :)

Richard said...

Discovering that my life and potential have been unfulfilled and unrealized is my biggest fear.

I agree with mattbg that pursuing our dreams is a luxury many cannot afford. Yet, I also believe that it is something that should be possible. In our world, there is no reason for people to have to live hand to mouth.

What is missing in out lives is leisure - not indolence or distraction, but time away from servile activities focussed on the higher good (art, philosophy, religion, self-discovery, music - those activities which have no function in a servile society). I still recommend Josef Pieper's Leisure: The Basis of Culture (although, I should warn you it is a Catholic Philosophical text. A quote from it: “man seems to mistrust everything that is effortless; he can only enjoy, with a good conscience, what he has acquired with toil and trouble; he refuses to have anything as a gift.”).

Finally, you might want to consider the following story:

A fishing boat was docked in a tiny coastal village south of the border. An American tourist complimented the local fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took him to catch them. "Not very long", answered the fisherman. "Then why didn't you stay out longer and catch more?" asked the American. The man said that his small catch was enough for his family. The American asked, "What do you do with the rest of your time?" The fisherman replied, "I sleep late, play with my children, catch a few fish, and take a siesta with my wife. In the evenings I go into the village to see my friends, have a few drinks, play the guitar and sing a few songs. I have fun…"

The American interrupted, "Hey, I have an MBA from Duke and I can help you. Start by fishing longer every day and selling the extra fish you catch then you can buy a bigger boat. The larger boat will bring in more money and you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet. Instead of selling to a middleman, you can sell directly to the processing plants. You can then leave this little village and move to Mexico City, LA or New York City! There you can direct your enterprise."

"How long would that take?" asked the fisherman. "20-25 years", replied the American. "And after that?" asked the fisherman.

"That's when it gets really interesting", answered the American, smiling. "When your business gets really big, you can start selling stocks and make millions!" "Millions? Really? And after that?" asked the fisherman.

"After that you'll be able to retire, live in a tiny coastal village, sleep late, play with your grandchildren, catch a few fish, take a siesta with your wife and spend your evenings drinking and playing the guitar with your friends!"

La Belette Rouge said...

I know that it is impossible for you to be that woman. As you know, I find that short to be an existential wake-up call that demands that I fully and absolutely listen to the call of my soul. This is an inspired post that reminds me of all the questions I have long struggled with. And the answer to your final question, I answer an absolute yes. There will be no hamburgers, Chinese food or fanny packs on our trip to Paris. Merci, for this inspiring and beautifully written post.

Zen Chef said...

Dear b, you know how to get people to think! This was a very inspiring post as always and everyone can relate to it to a certain extent. I have no doubt you will NOT be that woman. From reading your words I can already tell you are already living out your dreams, it's just a question of time before they materialize. If I had to bet on who is more likely to accomplish their dreams I would put my money on you! Enjoy the ride! :-)

b said...

La Page Française... I am so happy to hear you say (write) that statement out loud: I want to live a full life too. It is no wonder that I turn to your blog for inspiration!

I do wonder why we convince ourselves that pursuing our dreams is SO difficult when actually, it is more exhausting and strenuous NOT to pursue them. For some reason, we are made to feel that we have to take some giant leap of faith when really, all it requires is taking one step and then another and so on.

I also think we build the risk up to be so overwhelming and fail to see that everything we do is a risk in life and pursuing our dreams actually contains less risk as it is following our true path and being committed to our true selves. And risk is what makes life so exciting. Whatever we choose, there are always unknowns and why would we want it any other way? And truly, I am far more hopeful about the unknowns of pursuing a dream versus the unknowns of not pursuit it/them.

But I fully relate to how you feel. Sometimes I talk myself into partially believing that they are not the "right" thing to do or that it really isn't my dream somehow. However, the inner voice repeats the same dream and we all "know" that it is true... that it isn't some fleeting material desire (i.e., a car, house, things).

And like you, I cannot bear an everyday existence. Each time I find myself existing and not in pursuit of my dreams, I reach a point in which I kind of freak out. I make drastic changes and revolt against existence in some huge ways. My inner voice is loud right now but I wonder if it is just a matter of time before it grows tired of screaming at me and just becomes this pathetic whisper.

I am so happy to know you. Re-reading your post about moving to France filled me with such courage. Your incredible description of that tiny apartment you lived in, with Paris being your living room... it evoked such an incredible feeling within me. I could actually feel that experience and what a feeling of being alive! I'm happy that you pursued your dreams and you found someone wonderful to love and be loved by. I'm thrilled to know that you have peace and a true sense of being alive. No doubt you earned it. Too often I think that people perceive dreams as a gift granted to only a certain few. We all possess that gift but it takes courage and a passion for life to really pursue it.

Thank you always for your encouragement and kind comments. I love visiting your blog and my thoughts/comments are always so sincere. You have such a wonderful writing voice and no doubt, pursuing your dreams has enhanced that incredibly!

b said...

Matt... Living out our dreams is not a luxury. Pursuit of our dream(s) is the only obligation we should truly feel to ourselves. Everyone has dreams and if we are capable of distinguishing our dreams from our material desires, we would realize how attainable our dreams really are. They don't require wealth or privilege. They only require hope and dedication. And imagine... if we were all pursuing our dreams fully, we would be that much better for humanity.

For me, I also see the pursuit of a dream as far more rewarding than the actual attainment of a dream. Because once we live out a dream, it presents an entirely new world to us and the journey continues. It is the journey, not the destination. We are all clearly on some kind of journey. We are born, live, and die after all. But it is a matter of what unique journey we are each on. If you believe in God, you clearly appreciate that he made us unique for some reason, right? Are we truly on our own true journey or are we on some meaningless journey that society (or some other force) has convinced us to be on, going through the motions?

I agree that some people have considerable advantages over others, no question. People are enslaved, etc. So absolutely, their ability to pursue their dreams is severely limited. Again, I feel so strongly that if we each pursued our true individual callings authentically, this world would be so much the better for it.

And yes, perhaps we have too many choices in "developed" countries.. which substantiates that we confuse our dreams with these false choices that are presented to us as the "right" thing to pursue. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the cycle you describe: birth, childhood, education, job, family, death. But we each have to bring our own unique meaning to that cycle. Otherwise, we are going through the motions and not utilizing this incredible gift we've been given.

So often, we are made to feel that pursuing our dreams is a reckless, selfish, and extravagant pursuit. But that is an ideology that perpetuates the current system. Pursuing our dreams does not at all contain some kind of disregard for the basic principles of life: birth, procreation, death. Pursuit of dreams actually celebrates it! And it should not make us self-absorbed with disregard for humanity. Every single person I know who is in full pursuit of their dreams/their life, is so amazingly kind to others. These people have such a beautiful outlook, they share their abundance with the world, they commit very self-less acts to help improve this world. It is the people who trap themselves in the cycle who are most often judgmental, selfish, ignorant, etc.

Things are precarious in the world today but I would venture to say that people have always felt unrest with the world. When you say that "this way of life will come to a grinding halt," I don't know what way of life you are describing. I am not rich, I don't have some high powered career. I enjoy my work but could do many other things to eat and live. I don't have expectations of staying in a penthouse in Paris and eating at five star restaurants every day. Maybe my freedom to travel will be constrained? Perhaps. And that is why I am not waiting around.

And really, we are all going to die... whether that be tomorrow or 70 years from now. I want my life, however long, to be meaningful and beautiful. I'd rather die young and have lived a full life than live to be 100 and go through the motions of an existence. When I watch films like Into the Wild, I look at someone like Christopher McCandless and see his life as rich, meaningful, shared. He died incredibly young and many might say carelessly. But I see a beauty in that life. We draw inspiration from such stories of people's lives... and almost always these people endure much suffering and struggle. But their stories are meaningful and inspiring.

A life lived in full pursuit of one's dreams is not some fantasy. It is not about getting anything and everything we want. It is about being alive. All the sadness and joy that come with it. All the individual struggles and suffering. But you must take that first step and continue taking steps. And if you do, you will "get" it. A life in pursuit/living out one's dreams is no luxury. It is our purpose and that which gives authentic meaning to our lives.

b said...

Randal... This is such a great visual representation... the glass separating one from their dreams! I so often feel that way... that there my dream lies, right before me, and yet I cannot touch it and live it but can only watch a still of it. What makes this even more frustrating is that the glass that divides is is really not glass at all, but merely the illusion of glass. All we really need to do is reach out and step into that dream.

For me, it isn't about possessing the dream. It is about living the dream, pursuing the dream and being among the dream.

I know you might be slightly cynical, Randal, but I think there is far more hope in you than even you might consent to admitting. ;-) What is your dream or one of your dreams? What do you think limits your capacity to fully pursue such?

b said...

Richard... discovering my life and potential have been unfulfilled and unrealized is my biggest fear, too. But please tell me that you don't believe it is too late to change such?

I believe that we all have challenges and limitations in pursuing our dreams. Yet, what do we expect? That those dreams should just materialize for us without any struggle/effort on our part? How meaningless the dream would become. Dreams are journeys, not destinations, really. And any perceived obstacles in our lives simply require confrontation and choice. Yes, often those choices and realizations are difficult. But not impossible. And that is part of the necessary journey.

I really like that you returned to this idea of leisure. I agree that our lives are lacking in leisure. I think leisure enhances one's life incredibly. But I think so often it seems that we take a week of vacation and the leisure time we are suddenly allowed does not compensate for our true journey (the pursuit of our dreams) and we find ourselves restless and irritated by that vacation. Or enjoyment of that leisure makes us so frustrated that we get so little of it and that it might magnify our feeling of not living a full life.

Thank you for sharing this story! I love it. How true. Work should maintain a happy and comfortable lifestyle here and now. So many people relegate their happiness to retirement and then when they get there, they are miserable, even with all the money they have saved.

b said...

LBR... Thank you for your ongoing support, including your sharing this short with me. I am so happy to hear you say that you want to live a full life, too. You are a daily inspiration in my own life and I have absolute faith in your pursuing and living a full life as well. So fortunate to know you!

No chinese food and sitting around the apartment for us while in Paris. I had this great daydream yesterday about us being in Paris. I'll have to share it with you, as it felt so real and in its simplicity, it was magnificent!

Zen Chef... I think I really stirred the pot (pun very much intended) on this one, eh? In no way do I wish to aggravate people but rather, I want to inspire people as I've been inspired. I see potential in everyone and want for everyone what I want for myself: a full life.

Thank you for all that you say in this comment. It means so much to me. I truly do feel that I am already living out my dreams for again, it is the journey and not the destination. A dream for me is not a destination, not some finish line. It is a pursuit, a meaningful journey. And it is so exciting to imagine what will unfold for me along the way. I feel confident in my pursuit because I am very true to my heart and soul. There is no other way to live for me.

Thanks again for the encouragement!

Richard said...

It is probably never too late to pursue dreams. I look back and think how young I was (you are a decade younger than me and in my eyes you are very young with a vast future ahead of you. It is probalby no different from someone a decade older than me, looking at me and seeing so much potential in me. I have to learn to focus on that).

Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...

B,

The truth is that many people do not seek out their dreams because they fear trying and never succeeding. Failure would bring disappointment and maybe humiliation when they decided to quit. I believe that dreams are always feasible. They live inside our hearts and minds and it ultimately, as you know, we must grasp them or come to an understanding that maybe it really was not our dream to have. I think many people confuse wants with dreams. Everybody wants something, to do something, to love something. But a dream, a goal, whatever you wish to call it is destiny calling. It is something that stirs your soul and makes you hunger for it.

This woman in the movie seems like she wanted different things, but although it many have been a hope or wish, it was not something that would make her who she is destine to be.

B, if your dream is to fly around the world, then do it. Don't waste time talking about. If you love something, love is so well that if you never see it again there will be no question that it was cared for or loved. Do it with determination and with all of the woman that we, your readers know you are. If you are going to dream, dream big, make a plan, and do it. We have faith in you.

T

Colleen said...

I know, I see and I understand more than you know.

Your post reminds me that I am outside my body looking in most of the time. Like the posts above, you are not her. I've read your past posts. Though we haven't known each other long, you are in the right mindset.

For a few years, I've lost my passion, my care-free attitude. I have become "safe". I am not the person I once was. Now, I feel I'm loosing the desire, my heart. And it FREAKS me out! This is why I started my blog, to help get out of my funk.

I am the person that stays with a job because someone close to me was scared I wouldn't have enough money to live. I am the one that stays in a safe career because when I tried something different in the past, it didn't work. Therefore, the person I'm with freaks out when I want to make another change. Because they say that I haven't fulfilled my desire before why would it work now? Negative, negative, negative.

Now, I cannot physically move, I cry and I'm sick most of the time. I am not the person I once was.

I want to find her...she's in there somewhere.

mattbg said...

colleen, don't worry about it... it's called "growing up". Things that used to be exciting become old news and you start to realize that you need to give direction to your life so as to avoid spending your life trying to find yourself and dying lost.

Problem is, you're supposed to have found yourself by the time you're 30, I think. It's an age where your life is supposed to be on the rails so that you can start doing something useful with it.

I'm going to be really unpopular for saying this in a place like this, but by the time you're 30, you're supposed to be raising the next generation of human beings, and I think biology puts you in a state of mind to do that whether you like it or not. Fighting it is rather futile.

This existentialism is tiring me out :) It's worse than negativity, from my perspective.

b said...

Richard... I would say it is never too late but the longer we bury our dreams, the harder they might be to dig out. The hard part being that we have to reject that aspect of ourselves that allowed us to bury our dreams. We have to find courage and strength we've been denying ourselves for so long. Does that make sense? And yes, relatively, I seem very young to you but you are still vital and alive! You possess wisdom and conviction and what great gifts to bring to the pursuit of your dreams!

b said...

Inside our Hands, Outside our Hearts... I think that behind this fear of failing to achieve a dream is a huge misconception. What so many people fail to realize is that the fulfillment does not come from obtaining or winning the dream but pursuing it fully. And a dream that we might perceive for ourselves is really a gateway to other dreams and a way of life. Life is a journey, not a destination. Our dreams should open us up to living full lives.

Yes, dreams do stir our souls and what better way to live one's life but in accord with the soul?

Again, Paris is a dream of mine but I realize that it is something tangible my soul identifies with and I know that pursuing it is going to be the gateway to a full life.

Thanks for your faith in me! :)

mattbg said...

b... on second thought, I think I agree with you: living out our dreams is not a luxury, but the dreams to which we think we are entitled to in this part of the world are a luxury. We dream of things that people in less fortunate circumstances would not even allow themselves to dream; or they have far higher priorities as far as dreams go, such as giving their children a better life than they had themselves because such a thing is not assured.

Regarding "grinding to a halt", I am really referring to the above, and I'll explain why. We used to have self-entitled people on this continent providing bad, disinterested customer service at a cost probably ten times higher than good customer service is now provided by eager workers at offshore call centers. People participating in these developing economies are following their dreams, too. But their dreams consist of educating themselves in something that matters and making a contribution that matters so that their country will matter and, in turn, their children will matter. They are educating themselves in objective, useful things -- science, engineering, English (more useful to them than us -- they can translate). North Americans are going in the other direction because, for some reason, they can do the same or less than someone who may be more educated and willing in another country and make ten times as much money for it. It has to end. And, so, yes, travel will become one of the first things to go. We'll have to start doing things that matter again such as, oh, growing food and producing things of value.

I really do see the attraction in allowing everyone to express their unique talents to eke out a living. But, I put it in the same box as the ideology of the free market. I suppose I can best reply to this by telling you how I talk myself down from such temptations. It's quite simple: is there a demand for what I want to do? If not, I ask myself how I'd access all the things I do enjoy in my life if everyone decided that they were going to seek fulfillment as a trapeze artist. I think there has to be a balance between dreams and what society expects of you. Society isn't something separate from anyone in it.

And, if you were going to study something of interest, or some culture of interest, so as to put it to good use in society -- produce research, write historical accounts. And if you'are actually a part of the culture, simply participating in it is valid enough. But to participate in a foreign culture from afar, wishing you were somewhere else, cooking fancy quiche and listening to April March records doesn't do anyone any good.

Again, as above, I think there needs to be a balance between personal dreams and what society needs you to do. It's completely amazing to me that society -- North American society, in particular -- has been led into this idea of negative liberty, where everyone has freedom to not care about or participate in their own society at all. Ironically, negative liberty hasn't yet caught on to the same degree in France.

Clearly, I am not much of a dreamer. I don't see dreams as being valid unless they're useful, and I don't miss not having fulfilled them because, honestly, who am I to feel entitled to that, really? And it doesn't bother me or stress me at all to think this way.

b said...

Colleen... I so feel what you are saying here. I feel your struggle and that screaming voice inside of you. I too have allowed myself to lose sight of what being alive really means.

So often people misunderstand that pursuing one's dreams really and simply means that we want to live full lives, we want to feel alive. This isn't a selfish or ridiculous desire, it is an innate knowing... it is listening to the voice that is uniquely you.

The negative will always attempt to pervade. People that are not living full lives often resent those who are or who desire for such. And truly, some people just seem to refuse to "see." But you are not one of those people. And your soul is screaming to you right now... that is why you feel sick. Believe me, I know.

You will not fail if you give yourself to your soul completely. And I guarantee that you will not look back on your life one day and say, "I was such a fool for giving up that meaningless, well paying career to live in a new country l and experience new things."

I believe in you, Colleen, and I'm so not alone. The struggle gives the pursuit meaning. I know it is hard. I really, really do. There are days that I am so confident in this pursuit and then days in which I just struggle to shut out the negative voices all around me. But always know that I am here to support your pursuit.

Colleen said...

Matt,

“Growing up” means different things. One person could have the education-job-family route and another could have education-military-job-moving to a different country path. My point is that growing up only means moving forward. Finding oneself should happen within each of those chapters. Each change—let’s say going from college to a job—we have to find our voice, our fit within that society. If a person spends their “life trying to find yourself and dying lost,” then it is a possibility they never had the chance to move from one chapter in their life to another for whatever reason.

A friend of mine told me that it was my “duty to have children”. It is not my duty. Many a famous and intelligent philosopher has asked this type of question(what is our life's goal, our duty) and hasn’t agreed on an answer. So by no means, philosopher or not, is it my duty to “raise the next generation.” Biology is different for everyone, including myself. Tread lightly in this category, Matt.

By your timeline, I should have settled down 5 years ago and planned for a family. Sure, this might work for you and might be great for others, but that is a path that isn’t laid out for everyone.

How sad would it be to have stopped dreaming when one is 30? I’m sure your intent isn’t that we are who we are at 30 and progression toward something out of the “plan” should be looked down upon. But I agree that each and every one of us should move toward something useful. In addition, everyone should be a part of something larger than themselves.

b said...

Matt... Following one's dreams is direction. And it is the only authentic direction one can take with their life. Are we to be robots, then? Are we to all aspire for the same lifestyle? Why would we be made unique if that is the case?

I think it is absurd to say that by the time one is 30, they should "be on the rails." The rails of monotony? The rails of being useful and not meaningful? What is useful anyway? Paying taxes, cranking out babies, accumulating material wealth?!

And if we should have it all figured out by the time we are 30, why do we continue to live beyond then? So we can procreate and be done with it all?! Pursuing one's dreams is more than useful, it gives life meaning and beauty. It makes us better for the world, for humanity. Procreation is one aspect of living but again, how do you then propose to explain why we are each unique, with a profound capacity to think and feel?

Life is a journey and self-discovery is a part of that journey. We are always learning and growing. If you want to live a robot existence, be my guest. I am sad for you. At the end of our lives, we can sit down and see who has regrets. I guarantee it will not be Colleen or I. Trust me... I have watched many people in my life get older (namely, my own father) and deeply regret going through the motions all their life, living half-lives, if you will. And if you believe in God, why would you believe that God would create such a mediocre existence for us and yet, allow us to think and feel so deeply?

Pursuit of one's dreams is not a selfish, childish pursuit. Nor does it reject biological purposes. Don't you think that inner voice that urges us toward our dreams is our soul and not some reckless temptation?

Negativity is a kind of death to me. And truly, it is one of the most useless uses of energy!

Colleen said...

B,

Thank you for your support. As shallow as this might sound, it really means a lot to me.

Somewhere inside, I know that things will get better. little steps. In the meantime, I need ice cream.

b said...

Matt... In response to your second comment: Wow. I think you completely misunderstand what I say here. Perhaps the confusion lies in the term "dream." I am not referring to desires for material objects, for a lavish lifestyle in Paris, etc. There is a HUGE difference between desires/pleasures and dreams/callings. I am referring to the latter here.

This isn't about entitlement whatsoever. And absolutely, we should be useful human beings as members of a society. But what constitutes useful? Isn't the artist just as useful as the scientist? As you recognize, if we all wanted to be trapeze artists, the world would be a circus (that thought really creeps me out!). And if we all wanted to be scientists, the world would be a laboratory. And this idea is exactly what lies at the heart of dreams: we all have unique callings. Being a doctor may be someone's dream, just as being a writer is mine. And there are other callings in our lives that emerge or have always been there. They are experiences... the essence of being alive.

Growing food is absolutely essential. And yes, we've lost sight of the value of those basic things because we are so overwhelmed with privilege and materialism. But again, when I speak of pursuing dreams, I value such useful and necessary acts highly. Pursuing one's dreams does not in any way show disregard for such basic social responsibilities. But just as we have a responsibility to society, we have a responsibility to ourselves and to that inner calling. If we all truly followed our inner calling, I have no doubt that this world would be a much better society. We would find a way to feed ourselves and such, I guarantee.

Paris is not about wishing I were someplace else. It is about exploring life and participating in it fully. To do that, we have to leave the comfort of what we know to be open to what is out there. This is called learning and growing. We can't accomplish either in a stagnant environment.

Again, you severely misunderstand me and my pursuit. This is not about eating "fancy quiche" and entitlement for luxury and disregard for society or my country. How sad that you would think such. No, you are not a dreamer, and you are clearly not listening to your inner calling. You still think of it as a temptation that must be mastered.

You assert that there needs to be a balance between personal dreams and what society needs but you do not abide by such. You state yourself that you don't believe in dreams, after asserting that there should be this balance.

I don't blog about the taxes I pay or the weekly volunteering I do. I don't blog about being a voter or the many kind acts I kindly and freely commit each day. I don't blog about them because those are my social actions that I share with and contribute to society. My blog is my place to assert my dreams and share my thoughts, me, as an individual.

You say you are not bothered or stressed about not pursuing dreams but you spend time commenting with much conviction. That act tells me otherwise.

b said...

Colleen... I wonder if I am being obscure in writing about my dreams, making them sound so lavish and selfish? Really, you know what I am getting at and that's what really matters.

Your thanks are not shallow at all! I appreciate you so very much as well. Things will get better if we keep taking those steps and yes, ice cream helps too! :)

Colleen said...

B,
To a person not seeking a "dream", it is a lavish concept. For example, I know a couple with two children that think going on a vacation to a different country is a "dream." I.E. lavish, unobtainable, and out of the question. Another couple who has 3 children under the age of 9, I think, sold their house and traveled around the world. (the book "one year off".) Obviously, dreams are very relative to the sayer.

I think that people respond to things out of the ordinary depending on their own experiences. Rather, they try to overlay their own experiences on other people. Though it's egotistical, it's a way to get to know (or choose not to know) someone.

With that said, can you email me B from my blog? I can't find your contact info.

b said...

Colleen... Yes, I fully recognize that we project our perspective/desires/expectations/etc. onto other people. It is impossible to fully suspend all those aspects of ourself. I know that in past relationships, my boyfriends/husband gave me a certain look that conveyed that I was projecting my "fairy tale" too enthusiastically. And a similar look was reciprocated when they projected their fatalism onto me.

I appreciate different perspectives and dreams. I guess I'm always disappointed when I'm misunderstood (and when assumptions are rashly made about what I say) but I need to appreciate where that comes from.

Colleen said...

B,
I read a quote by H. H. Munro:

"The young have aspirations that never come to pass, the old have reminiscences of what never happened.”

I for one will live a life with no regrets! This is my real dream.

I understand. I was not implying that you were egotistical in any form, btw.

I do need a limoncello.

mattbg said...

"inner voice that urges us toward our dreams is our soul and not some reckless temptation?"

These days, no. I think it's a cumulative reflection of all the media and marketing we've been exposed to since we were born. Some of the these things we encouter click with something within ourselves, and some don't. But very little of it is real. Of course, we make it so, somewhat, by acting it out in real life. Life imitating art, etc.

As for the suggestion that I'm in denial... no, of course I'm not. As I said, I'm simply not a dreamer. I don't find it useful, and it bothers me a bit to see people considering their own existence to be so important.

Of course, my comments are directed at the whole concept of dreaming and this recent notion of "self fulfillment". Dreaming is a plan B, from my perspective. It's what you do when things didn't work out for you.

"And if you believe in God, why would you believe that God would create such a mediocre existence for us and yet, allow us to think and feel so deeply?"

Because there's incredible power and beauty in the ability to restrain yourself from your urges. It's what makes us human. It only looks mediocre from the outside, and to those who don't understand what's going on inside.

Randal Graves said...

b, what's stopping me? Once you have a couple of rugrats running around, there's a bit of postponement. Perhaps when they're both out the door and off to college or whatever they want to be doing, I'll see what the cards hold. ;-)

As for urges, or temptations, those words are merely archaic labels used by those in power to keep people from enjoying life. And lest this fall further into a back and forth of diatribes, I'm not suggesting we all get buck naked while sipping strawberry wine and not go to work while submitting to hedonism full time. Although parts of that don't sound all that bad. Muah.

Sometimes I have the urge to write. Sometimes I have the urge to get drunk. Sometimes I have the urge to make love to my wife. Sometimes I have the urge to trek through Europe, penning bad poetry in various cities while taking in the sites. Sometimes I have the urge to cry at a piece of music. If those are temptations, then let me sin.

And at some point, I'll still go to work because I have bills to pay.

b said...

Matt... We can go back and forth on this to no end. We CLEARLY do not see eye-to-eye on this and that is okay. I too often want to inspire others to see what I see: that life is beautiful and there isn't some punishing God making us go through life believing we are sinners. But I get carried away in this hope and forget momentarily that we are all different, holding often very different perspectives. This string of comments has taken my post in a very different and unproductive direction.

The largest obstacle in our dialogue is that we are regarding "dream" in very different terms. And when two people engage in dialogue of dreams (or anything) but they each bring a separate definition of the term, it muddies the conversation incredibly, as they are actually discussing two different things.

Please accept my apologies if I came across as defensive or made inappropriate assumptions about your character. We are obviously very different people and that is fine. I don't see either of us as wanting to harm people, society. We both want to enhance society by our presence and may just go about that in different ways.

Best wishes in your endeavors.

Sincerely,
b

b said...

Randal... I'm going to stop being Pollyanna on this string of comments. We all have to decide what is best for our lives and rather than challenge people, I simply want to inspire and I can get carried away from that at times.

Yes, I agree that we all have impulses and urges. When I speak of dreams they are entirely different. That inner calling is not an urge or impulse. It is a part of who we are, we are born with it.

It sounds like being a writer is a part of that seed of you/your dreams. And all the thoughts of Europe, strawberry wine, etc. are visualizations you draw upon to awaken that dream. The material aspects stripped away... there you are, a writer. That's really what I'm referring to when I speak of my dreams but I must have convoluted that in this post and prior comments.

Work should be a rewarding aspect of caring for one's basic needs and that of the family/society. But that should be one aspect of a person's life, not the only aspect.

Randal Graves said...

Oh no, I understood exactly what you were saying in your post and the subsequent comments. I was just being snarky. I'm with you. I don't think dreams are frivolous. They're integral to who we are, which should not be defined solely by employment or outside controls.

The Franco Fille said...

Thanks for showing me this post! I totally get it. I like you refuse to be that woman, BUT I have to temper my desire to go to Paris with my present situation. I know it's coming but it won't happen today or tomorrow. I look forward to reading the rest of your blog.