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Friday, 11 November 2016

Dreaming Big, Pursuing Your Dreams, and all sorts of other overused cliches which I hold onto dearly

Alright, so every who knows me well knows that I am among the least politically-minded/politically-informed people I know. (I'm at least aware of this!) So keep that in mind as I make these fleeting references to politics and current affairs. 

The way I feel most of the time.

I'm very aware that I'm an ideas-person and a dreamer/thinker; I don't claim to have a superb understanding of all the facts and processes...anyway. Now that that caveat is out of the way, let me move right along into my dreaming and my ideas.

Putting aside all the bewilderment, irritation, and anger…one positive thought I have had with this absolute shit show of US election results was this: "absolutely anything can happen; keep your hopes and dreams big."

I wonder why so many of us hold onto such small and narrow ideas of what we can accomplish or what is within our ability to achieve. Many of us settle (in our careers, our relationships, our hobbies) for something mediocre rather than that which we really want.

And it strikes me that, perhaps, if more individuals had held onto a bigger dream (being president, etc.) then we wouldn't be witnessing so much madness.

I don't intend to say that the best thing imaginable is for us all to be positions of power and prestige. Surely that is not all of our dreams—there is no cookie cutter model of what excellence/fulfillment is for each of us. For example, being the president of the USA is so incredibly far from my biggest dream/hope that it would be absolutely awful if that were what I pursued. But some people--those among you who are interested in and knowledgeable of politics, for starters--might actually excel in such a role and would indeed want to do that. But for some reason we think it is too unreachable and far off, so we instead pursue Goal # 2...or Ideal Career #3 ....#17...etc.

Some of my favourite artwork in Ottawa, Canada. The artist was building these rock sculptures for decades before he received any formal recognition/salary for it. 

For me, this common practice (of placing aside our actual dreams/hopes/desires to do what seems more acceptable within society) materialises quite a bit in the type of research I pursue. It's sometimes hard to do what is meaningful to me rather than what seems desireable/normative by some academic models.

I really do want to use my research (both my written work and the result that my studies have on my own life) to make a positive impact on society.

I’m constantly asking myself questions about the nature of God/spirituality, about how to develop a community and a larger society in which we are more respectful and more loving toward ourselves and others, about what it is that gives meaning to our lives, and about what gives us energy/passion in our lives to instill positive changes.

Clothes drying and a man walking. (Mumbai, India)

My studies often seem very “airy-fairy” and lofty to people who are more involved with on-the-ground social changes—take activisits who are working toward ending poverty, for example. I seem to be in an ivory tower where it’s all talk and no action. Or my spiritual questions can seem absolutely ridiculous to those focused exclusively on material wealth and business. 


People from both of these camps sometimes try to draw me into their worlds. And I definitely see value and appeal in the world of social activism, and I can also see the appeal in more-pure business-type endeavours. But neither are my consuming passion. At least not in this moment.

I think, instead, I can strive to excel in my area of interest—which for me happens to be philosophical type questions about what it is that makes our lives meaningful. (And which, I might add, for me does include SOME element of practical application that sometimes overlaps with social activism. Anyway.) For you, it might be something totally different. But, I do believe, positive change can come in result to our passionate pursuits of our dreams/goals.

along the Berlin wall

I wish we all had the courage to dream a little bit bigger. And to hold onto those dreams a little bit longer.

Can you imagine the positive changes that might happen if all the good, loving, kind, passionate people in our world truly believed that they could have a significant impact on those in their circles—whatever and wherever those circles might be? So often we let various societal expectations—of all shapes and sizes—restrain and constrain us. But I think it could be absolutely wonderful if we pursued our actual dreams.

Think of some manageable dream which is too often ignored because we are all so used to settling. Maybe it's deciding to close your ears to what society tells you you're supposed to view as successful and instead spend some time working as a nanny, learning to cook new recipes, and writing poetry. (I spent 6 months doing that. It rocked.) Maybe it's changing your food choices so that you contribute to a kinder, greener planet. I don't know. I think we all have must have dreams we are setting aside without really pursuing them.

These are the chickens that my Ottawa flat-mates and I had. Their free-range eggs, along with our homegrown veggies, was an awesome way for us to have access to some local organic food. 
 These are perhaps silly/minor examples, but they're ones from my own life that for so long I rejected or placed aside because they didn't align with what society told me I should/could pursue. 
It's so easy and normative to fall into place and to go about living a life that is more or less fine but is not what we *really* want to be doing. I often wonder if I'm living the life I really want to be living. Sometimes I am, definitely. But other times I fall into the trap of doing what is expected of me rather than pursue the dream I really want.

To wrap up: Dreaming "big" can look like different things to different people. Not all of us care to be a CEO or run for President. (Thank God.) But those of you who do....why don't you take that dream seriously?  And those of you who want to live a simple life and grow your own veggies...why do you leave that dream in order to work in a more normative career that society pushes down your throat? And those of you who want to do whatever else it is that you dream of doing...why have you abandoned that passion? In 1, 5, 10..20 (etc) years, will it have been worth it? Will you feel a tinge of regret for having never tried it?

Words to live by, friends. Words to live by.

Anyway. All cliches and memes aside..I absolutely do think we should all strive to be loving, just, merciful, and humble...and so dreaming "big" will hopefully (a) be fueled by that and (b) naturally incorporate and strengthen our tendencies toward doing good. But we can also keep our dreams big in terms of how we might [positively] impact the world. Because we all have capabilities and passions and spheres of influence in one way or another.


1 comment:

  1. Dream big, embrace life, and live with passion! xo