Recently I was flicking through a women's magazine during my lunch hour, Marie Claire I think. There was one of those photo articles showing kids from around the world talking about their dreams - standard Western dreams like becoming a pro-gamer or a rock star, strange dreams, creative dreams. One girl in a third world country wanted to train to be a doctor to help her people. Then there was a boy from a South American country who said that he didn't have time to dream - all he had in life was work and survival. That broke my heart. When you give up dreaming, what is left in life?
To me the important thing is to dream, to have those hopes and ambitions for the future. I think that too many people judge the dreams of others - think that "creative" dreams are much more worthy. Maybe it's the crowd I mix in, but there seems to be a really condesending attitude towards the Suburban dream.
Say you want to work in a city office, pay off your mortgage, ensure a decent standard of living for your kids - those kinds of dreams - does that make you some pitiful "worker ant" or does that make you human? Why try to be an artist, if your heart is telling you to be an accountant or a vet or a nurse? Just be the best accountant or vet or nurse you can be. Not everybody wants to set the world on fire but does that make them any less worthy than the poet who expects society to support his bohemian lifestyle?
I know so many people who talk about quitting their jobs to write, to paint, to make music and, while they are dreams worth dreaming, I wonder if we can be truly creative if we divorce ourselves from the mainstream of life. Once we set up ourselves up in a creative ghetto, we surround ourselves with people who mirror back our own ideas and reflect our own image. Rather than expanding our world, by devoting ourselves to Art, we narrow the sources from which we feed.
My ideal is to make enough money from writing to be able to work part time. I like working in an office, donning my 'corporate self' and heading into the city. Not all the time, granted. A day at home or an afternoon off is a golden thing. Time at home alone to write is treasure when it is isn't stolen from domestic chores or unwinding after work or sleep.
But all life needs balance. I could spend hours meditating, waiting for the magical fairy dust of some mythical muse to touch my life, but an eavesdropped commuter conversation or a short exchange during a coffee break can be more golden than hours of navel-gazing. This is real life. This is dreams winning through between washing the dishes and sweeping the floor. This is the place where most of us live and work and die.
My dream isn't to create Great Art, to confound or obfuscate. My dream is to one day get on the 8.40 Sydenham-City train and to look up from my seat to see someone reading MY book. In good dreams, they are laughing, my words making their day a little brighter.
I'm currently reading a book of lectures by Anais Nin and in one her theme is that outward changes in the world come from within, that we can only change ourselves. And we do that by following our own dreams, by following our individual paths, not by trying to fit into the prescribed path of Art or Life or Love.
I just hope someone teaches that little boy in South America to dream again.