My Admiration for Dreamers


I have great admiration for those who chase dreams because they exhibit the best of what it means to have a human experience.  I admire them because they live their life to the fullest.  Being a dreamer is a prerequisite for greatness.

Imagination.  Whether in sports, business, law, government, medicine, science, art or academics, in order to chase a dream, there needs to be a dream to chase, and behind every dream, there is an imagination, that special ability of the mind to operate beyond reality, the darn term that describes the way the world just is and how others perceive it.

The reality to be overcome could be as simple as an observation that we humans, unlike birds, don’t have wings that permit us to fly naturally.  Or it could be something more personal, like that stuff that the parents of dreamers tell their children:  humans need food to survive, money is necessary for food and dreams don’t generate money.

Like others, dreamers live in a society that imposes norms and order, yet dreamers somehow have that imagination to not be shackled by them.  Dreamers focus not on the what is, but what could be and ask why not.  They have the ability to see beyond the limits and expand on the possibilities.

Strength.  There are dreamers and there are day-dreamers, and the difference between the two is that the dreamers have the strength to chase their dreams.

Chasing dreams is extraordinarily difficult.  Almost by definition, reality gets in the way of dreamers who are inspired to see, do and go beyond it.  Reality is the status quo; dream is the change.  Just as in the world of physics where force is necessary to put a stationary object in motion, so it is that it takes much more strength and effort to change the status quo than keeping it.

Perseverance.  Chasing dreams requires perseverance, because the path to success is a long, hard slog.  To take the analogy in physics a bit further, chasing dreams is more akin to putting objects in motion on earth than in a zero-gravity environment; an occasional burst of energy won’t be enough.  There needs to be an ability to sustain the effort day-in and day-out, in the face of all of countless countervailing force of so-called reality.  Dreamers needs to be strong all the time, not just some of the time.

Confidence.  Dream chasers exude great self-confidence, the belief in the strength and skills to achieve the dream.  Perseverance and confidence go hand in hand because confidence is what keeps the dreamers going regardless of what others say or see.  Without confidence, there’s simply futility.

Recklessness and Fearlessness.  In some ways, dreamers are reckless.  They are focused so much on what could be on the side of potential that they give little to no thought on what could be on the side of risk.  I’ve been told by those who are older that this gung ho attitude is a characteristic of the young, but I think this is as much a matter of personality as it is of age.  When people who have experienced more in life and have more to lose exhibit this quality, I think it’s just called fearlessness.

Euphoria and Agony.  We all draw inspiration from the tales of people who successfully achieved their dreams despite all the odds.  Such inspiration is as positive a human experience as I can imagine.

Of course, as the term “reality-check” implies, there are times reality just wins, and it actually wins most of the time.  That’s why it’s called a dream.

Sometimes, it’s natural skills that separates those who succeed and those who fail.   Other times it’s just bad luck, like being born a genius classical musician in the 21st century.

Either way, there is something awfully human about those who fail to achieve dreams despite having, exhibiting and exerting all the imagination, strength, perseverance, confidence and fearlessness.  I think there’s great inspiration to be drawn, not only in the euphoria of those who successfully achieve, but also in the agony of the countless others who don’t.

Experience.  There is one thing a failure does better than success, and that’s teaching life lessons.  For reasons that are not entirely clear, we humans all seem to better remember the painful moments than the happy ones.  For every dreamer who can teach how to overcome challenges, there are hundred other dreamers who can teach how to deal with the unsatisfied, painful moments of life.  The thing about failed pursuit of dreams is that, in a human life filled with all sorts of moments, there is something that remains intrinsic in the person to make that person better for having faced the challenge and failed.  As Confucius suggests, it’s better to have tried than failed than to not have tried at all.

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