I have written on this blog about “The Tyranny of the Dream.” That entry was something like advice to my future self. Prescient now almost six years later. I have been guilty at times of all that I advised myself against in those days. But that is not the point of this reflection. While tyranny assuredly causes “deaths”, I am thinking here about death of THE dream.
I am reminded of the Alfred North Whitehead quote, “[t]he purpose of thinking is to let the ideas die instead of us dying.” Can I exchange ideas with dreams? Let’s try: the purpose of dreaming is the let the dreams die instead of us dying. Hmm.
What is a dream? A dream is a future target at which I aim. I have many dreams. Most are dead. For example, in my now multi-year struggle with the second half of life (I don’t like “mid-life crisis” for non-trivial reasons but that’s for another post), I have dreamed of new jobs. Professor, principal, financial advisor, even health coach–read: forty-something fitness guru (laugh if you must). I can do anything. I don’t really want to be an IG model but, ok, if you insist. I am curious about a great many things. Why am I not doing just “anything” on the “I can do anything” list? Part of the answer is practical, “career” change is difficult. But all the above were dreams at one point or another, some only for a matter of minutes others for months employing much of my energy. Some related to personal interests and others more closely aligned with who I am. All compelling for different purposes. None are THE dream though and all are dead or mostly dead. No signs of grief.
The purpose of dreaming is to let THE dream die instead of us dying. Hmm. Rewind, the purpose of thinking is to let THE idea die instead of us dying. Hmm. I’ve had a lot of ideas. Maybe even more than the average man. What’s my THE idea? (Leave it to the definite article to make this difficult.) What is my ONE idea?
Idea = dream = target…what is the expression that equals dream? THE dream?
A dream among dreams is easy to define. Dreams are in the future. THE dream is almost unutterable as an expression. It is most intimate. It calls. It grounds my being. It unifies my being and my becoming. Living present, whole.
Ideas die to keep me from dying. Ideas are not me. THE idea is me.
Perhaps this is why “making a living” is often reduced to income. Perhaps this is our obsession with specialization. After all, isn’t it better to live, in part, than to die, trying to be whole? A compromise.
The death of the idea is the death of me. Of course my physical existence may live on.