Musings on the Value of Dreams

I have always been a big believer in dreams. Not the ones you have at night, though I appreciate the importance of those, but rather the ones you conjure up to get closer to your perceived ideal life. Now I use the word perceived intentionally because we all know that what we imagine might be an ideal life may, in fact, turn out to be one that is based on false assumptions. For example, I’ve always dreamed of living in a house right by the ocean. But when dreaming of that house on that gorgeous piece of coastline, I didn’t know to factor in a few realities of living near a salty body of water. For instance, things rust much faster there and rooms that have been closed up can become musty quite quickly because of the excess moisture in the air. And a place right on the ocean can get quite chilly in winter when winds blow across that vast expanse of water. A bone-chilling cold, in fact, that requires a warm fire and extra blankets to stay warm.

So, reality sometimes gets in the way of a dream and turns what one might have assumed would be a paradise into something that is a bit closer to a place to be endured, unless, of course, the view of the waves and jumping dolphins cancels out the inconvenience of extra rust, must, and cold. On the other hand, sometimes one actually underestimates how happy one might be living in a dreamed-of place. For example, when I dreamed of moving to Los Angeles, I had never imagined there would be so many flowers.

But regardless of the realities that come with dreams – bad or good – I still am a big believer in the value of dreams. The opportunity to imagine oneself living in a different place or doing work one loves or sharing a life with a special someone, or visiting people or places that have always had a pull. How else can we stretch and grow and try new things? And how else can we discover what we know and don’t know, what we’ve factored in and what we haven’t, what we really feel and really don’t feel or want or like or aspire to?

And what of dreams that don’t come true? Not getting that aspired-for school or home or profession or loved one? What if all of our dreams seem as if they’ve been gathered up and tossed into a cauldron over a fire and boiled away before our eyes?

Discouragement? Yes. Disappointment? A bit. Self-pity? A hint. But a few positive things can also be there.

Nobody can take away the fact that we dared to dream, that we allowed ourselves the freedom to look beyond where we were and thought of what might be. Also, nobody can fault us for wanting to push ourselves a bit, to think of what might suit us better in this world, knowing that it’s a unique suiting since we’re all individuals. And, though those particular dreams may die, there’s no keeping us from making new ones – perhaps more modest ones – that truly will not die. The dream to walk outside and savor the day or take the time to look closely at a flower or to appreciate the utter devotion of one’s dog. These are attainable dreams and ones we don’t ever have to sacrifice or watch go up in a cauldron’s mist.

And, if, in fact, we get into the habit of dreaming big and small, it could be argued that we live life a bit more optimistically than those who call dreams a waste of time. We might also almost accidentally take the few steps needed to advance that dream forward and we might wake up one day living a life that may not be exactly what that initial dream was, but a fairly close approximation. And for those dreams – big, small, or in-between – one has the right to take a deep breath and acknowledge that something good, different, and positive has happened, and for that very simple reason, one can feel ever-so-slightly proud.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. judyalter says:

    Sometimes I think dreaming lets you do vicariously the things you can’t in reality and somehow makes you more content with that reality. Does that make sense? On the other hand, I’m a vivid dreamer when asleep and write the most fantastic books, but they all escape me before morning. Some wonderful and happy, too many not so.

  2. Yes, Judy, that does make sense. Vicarious living through dreaming can help with contentment. I also write some pretty fabulous books in my dreams. If only I too could remember them!

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