Friday, October 22, 2010

#8 Following Your Dreams

 I like that song, 'Everything is everything'. I have no idea if this was the songwriter's intent, but to me, it sums up pretty well the state of public discourse in Western society today. The same words have different and opposite meanings depending on who uses them. Which brings me to the topic at hand. 
"Always follow your dreams", we were all told as kids.
Along with, "Attitude is everything", "Believe in yourself", and myriad other watered down pop psychological phrases fed to us, we're chock-full of meaningless aphorisms. Can an elementary school kid trying to follow these timeless life lessons tell when 'always following your dreams', becomes plain old 'wishful thinking'? And does anybody seriously believe that these tidy amorphous psychological nuggets help any kid navigate through their problems?

"Hey, Mr. Donovan, my parents are getting divorced, the kids bully me, I can't get my work done on time."
"Well, did you try believing in yourself?"
"Yes, Mr. Donovan."
"Hmm. Are you following your dreams?"
"I think so."
"Well then, it seems obvious to me then that attitude isn't everything with you. Let's try to work on that. Ok, kid?"
"Uh, I'm actually thinking about saying YES to drugs instead."

The problem with just following your dreams is that if, to you, 'dream' means 'the narcissistic fantasy world I've created to escape from the harsh reality wherein I have no control over my own life', then following those dreams is really not going to end well.  Are you going to kill your friends and family with a chainsaw while they beg for mercy? Or, is God going to turn you into Superman overnight? Will you win the lottery? Marry a dashing Prince Charming? Become a famous actor, spy, blogger?
If I were in Vegas, I'd probably bet my house against it. So, for us, it's actually better to crush all those dreams, burn them, wash away any traces and replace them ones that fit reality somewhat tighter. Though analyzing them objectively with a professional might also do the trick.

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