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By Ryan

“If you could be anything you want, I bet you’d be disappointed, am I right?”

-Isaac Brock, Modest Mouse, on The Moon and Antartica’s “Lives”

I’ve been thinking about dreams, hopes, goals, and aspirations a lot lately, and, honestly, it’s been a bit of a drag.  So many people I know have goals that are so simple, it’s hard to imagine why they would even call them “dreams.”  But even my own desires, which would seem beyond realistic to some, are things that I fully expect to achieve in my lifetime, and therein lies the issue.  The above quote, in addition to being some clever wordplay, summarizes the problem with dreams that are accomplishable.

I think everyone, no matter their level of ambition, has a small, sinking feeling inside of them as it relates to what it will feel like to get everything you ever wanted, do everything you ever wanted to do, and be around the people you always wanted to be around.  We all know, instinctively, that no matter the scope of our individual dreams, there’s a huge pile of uncertainly and purposelessness on the other side.  If you don’t realize this, then you’re just not being honest with yourself.

It’s fine if your dream is truly something like learning another language, taking a certain trip, or going to a certain school.  But the problem with dreams that just require us to do them is that we reach the other side too quickly, forcing us to find new dreams or become depressed.  And it’s the same with big dreams that require everything to line up just so; if it happens for you once in your life, you’ll never be satisfied until it happens every time.

Here’s the caveat: our dreams can be anything we want them to be.  Since I know that my individual dreams will likely lead to disappointment, or at least a slight feeling of emptiness, maybe my dreams should be beyond the scope of me.  It’s a terribly cliché example, but someone like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was able to have the drive and passion he did because his dreams were beyond what he could accomplish.  Maybe by setting our sights on the world at large, we can pursue our own dreams with a higher sense of purpose.

It’s true that “the world needs dreamers,” but, more accurately, the world needs the right kind of dreamers.