How many times have you heard the term ‘dreamer‘ used as in a derogatory sense? It’s often ascribed to those that day dream, considered to have their ‘head in the clouds‘ and unlikely to amount to anything by those with more practical and industrious attitudes to life.
I wonder if Neil Armstrong was ever told to keep his feet on the ground, or if Sir Edmund Hillary was advised to get a proper job?
We are often advised to set achievable goals and not follow unrealistic dreams. This may seem like sensible advice, in fact it is entirely sensible, but we are a species defined by our diversity, honest we really are! As well as the ambitious, the practical thinkers, we need creators, risk-takers, without dreamers, without those that have the imagination and belief to strive for the extraordinary, where would humankind be?
As a species, we are curious, imaginative and creative, exploration is in our nature. From the moment the first humanoids departed Africa, we have continued to explore, discovering new continents by land, sea, air and within the last few generations even space.
Should we accept the limits which others seek to place upon us?
Would we be marvelling at the Sistine Chapel if the parents of Michelangelo had insisted he study as a doctor, would we have enjoyed the powerful voice of Luciano Pavarotti if his friends persuaded him he’d make a better lawyer, or been thrilled by the adventures scripted by Mark Twain if he’d opted for a life in politics?
There is of course an absolute necessity for doctors, probably even a case for lawyers, though the benefits of politicians are more dubious.
Even sportsmen and women have the ability to enrich our lives, can you imagine football without Lionel Messi? I’m sure his teachers advised him to knuckle down and get a proper education becoming eligible for a career in say banking!
Anybody who caught the acceptance speech of Kate Winslet at the BAFTAs will be aware her drama teacher offered the following advice: “you might do well if you’re happy to accept the fat girl parts”! Aside from the disgraceful reference to female ideals, it’s another case of a small minded authority figure attempting to limit the ambitions of an individual that dared to dream. As Kate put it while clutching her BAFTA award “look at me now!“
There are some fanatics that take this prejudice still further, the story of Malala Yousafzai is both horrific and inspiring. A young woman shot and left for dead by Taliban gunmen; her crime, daring to dream of an education. That she survived and went on to become one of the most inspiring people alive, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, an icon of freedom who has had audiences with heads of state as a result of the cowardly attack is the ultimate irony.
How will you advise your children when they inform you they want to be an astronaut?
We have all heard or read inspirational stories of those that have sold all their belongings and decided to follow a dream travelling the world. How many have wished they had the courage to do something similar?
There have also been plenty of tales of woe, those that gave it all up only to end in tears. How many thought “serves them right”?
Does this mean we should give up on our dreams? After all it will always involve risk, not every story ends happily ever after.
It probably depends on the attitude of the individual, those that can live with regrets and those that can’t. If not following a dream means always wondering “what if?” then it’s unlikely true happiness or fulfillment is possible without even trying. For some, not taking the risk is worse than living with the consequences.
This doesn’t mean everybody should give up their 9 to 5 job, if they did the world would grind to a halt. Buses still need drivers, illnesses still need curing or injuries healing, wives still need to divorce philandering husbands and ….. still struggling with the need for politicians.
Let’s be fair, we need the practical types, the industrious, even mercenary types keeping our technological world ticking over and allowing some of us to continue to dare to dream.
It’s not even necessary to follow the dream full time, there is plenty of scope for finding a life balance which allows a career, family and space for personal adventures. It’s your dream and up to the individual how to follow it!
There is probably still space for a few more dreamers however, so if following a dream is something you are considering, remember the first step is the most difficult and important.
In the words of John Lennon:
“You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one”
I initially gave up a career in the Army Physical Training Corps, taking a new direction, and later a promising career in public house management. The reasoning, neither were likely to continue to fulfill my quest for adventure.
It has been far from easy, with many ups and downs, but we require challenges if we are to live and not merely exist. The journey through life is not supposed to be a single, straight road where the path is never in doubt.
The many cultural experiences, wildlife encounters and incredible memories already collected have justified these life changes many times over.
The images chosen hopefully portray some dreams fulfilled, that may inspire a few more to dare to follow their particular journey.