Many poets and writers have speculated that life is largely but a dream or dream-like state. In The Tempest, Shakespeare writes “We are such stuff/As dreams are made on; and our little life/Is rounded with a sleep.” We spend one-third of our days in sleep and the still relatively mysterious world of dreams. By day, we daydream, make plans, and imagine other possibilities and possible lives. Optimally, dreams might be thought of this way, in the words of Cheryl Renee Grossman, “I dream, therefore I become.”
What gives our lives meaning to a large extent are usually dreams. We have large dreams such as wanting to live independently, to own a house, to have a significant other, to create a family, to take a dream vacation, or to retire securely. These are more long-term and may require a significant investment of time, effort, patience, focus, and hard work. Often these involve personal sacrifice or compromises of some kind, but they are often the most satisfying and fulfilling of all realized dreams.
By day, there are often smaller, minor dreams and desires, such as having a morning coffee, having some pleasant engaging diversion during a work day, or coming home to a safe, known home-base that protects one from whatever harsh weather conditions. In the course of the day, a dream realized might include scoring an ‘A’ on a school test, getting an unexpected e-mail from an old friend, being promoted at work, or having a favorite food for supper. Ordinary or small victories are all dreams and desires realized that mean something positive for each dreamer.
More significantly, we may reach crossroads in our lives or perhaps look back on our pasts and wonder if we have accomplished various things we set out to do and once wanted to realize. It is as at those personal inventory moments that we may measure the relative success or failure of our lives. Usually, this is done in terms of dreams (and desires) achieved, deferred, or realized. Only each person can know what those dreams are and what they signified to oneself. It is in times such as these that we may come to know that the highest form of living and the best-lived moments are simply those many dreams we have been lucky to personally realize.
(previously published October 3, 2012 here)