Charlatans and propagandists, but also truly well-meaning and caring acquaintances, repeatedly chant the message that we all should pursue whatever our hearts desire, or where our passion lies. The rationale, which is unduly a truism, is that by we only perform at our best in ambitions and goals that we are completely passionate about, and which we reap tremendous heart-filled pleasure and joy from. Although this idealistic message is sometimes rebuked with a dose of practical wisdom that we should go to where "the money is" or to fulfill our social role in a productive manner, nevertheless, even the technological managers of today may preach that message without any regard to the hypocrisy behind their words.
What does it mean to chase after a dream? Or to attain success and satisfaction from a daily endeavor? Unfortunately, the answers are much too myriad and incompatible at times. The accountant who has achieved his goal of making number-crunching as a living may have failed to achieve his dream of marrying his dream gal, who is after the rich CEO. Likewise, this very same girl may display delight and happiness in obtaining a wealthy benefactor but yet fail in securing a partner who can be said to love her for who she really is, instead of her looks. Then perhaps the rich CEO is probably euphoric to have captured the heart of a lovely bride, to sit in the chairs of a Porsche, but yet has the inability (perhaps due to simple ignorance or time committment to generating riches) to develop a secure relationship with his children.
Our lives are not only that intertwined with contradictory aims and meanings but also we have also the unfortunate capacity to imagine the alternate reality of our lives. As we sit in the dull and deadly silent office, our thoughts run wild with fantasies of rock stardom, being a dancing queen, fame and glamour on the Hollywood carpet, receiving prizes and applause from fans of your personality and charisma, or even less glamourous realities, such as flying an airplane, sailing on the ship of love, or trekking through the African jungles for the scenic pictures of Mother Nature's grace. Blessed with the gift of imagination, we are also cursed with the capacity to evaluate and regret.
No doubt, not everyone lives to confront themself with the troubling question of "What if...?". Probably not everyone watches Sliding Doors, or comes out with the psychiatric condition to hallucinate and occupy themselves with illusions of the "what if...?". Do they live much more contended and at peace with themselves? Is it more less distressing to live the life of the simple?
My inclination is that it is far worse to choose the life of the self-contended. There is a great deal of anxiety and stress to admit, confess and proclaim that our own lives have not been always followed the roads of our dreams, such is the reality of a world which presents no rewards for being an independent thinker and crafted in such a fashion that provides limited paths for any individual to take. Similar to the fable of the frog who lives in the well, how does one get to understand the depths of his/her ego, inner self or soul if one is unable to conceptualize the life of the possibile? How can dreams be of any other nature if they are always achievable and within reach? Where can aspiration spring from unless one is in a state of inferiority and subjugation?
There is, of course, the alarming calamity that we could have lived up to a higher potential had we chosen a different path in the past. Not being a skilled musician now could mean that I never took the initiative to submerge and absorb myself into the lessons of music in my past. On the other hand, not being a sketch artist presently also means that I never had the interest to chase and develop this particular talent. Many revelations about our inner interest and personal strengths and weaknesses tend to show up late in life, and that explains the churning storm of dilemma and frustration when we learn more about ourselves later in life.
However, let us take stock of what I have personally come to believe: Would the man or woman, who fulfill their dreams as cogs in a self-absorbed, run-of-the-mill, machine of life, with no aspiration or no imagination of an alternate or deeper self, claim to live any more worse than the individual who passes, turns, falls and runs through a colourful and rich spiral of life, despite the occassional blip of success and the ditch of failure and contempt? Who can claim to love his dreams more even if they will continue to fail to his/her expectations?
There are certainly limits to the human potential in any skill or talent. But there have never been any limits in the human spirit to pursue the fruits of his/her passion or dreams. Thus dreams, in a way, were built to fail. But they have also the potential to be fulfilled, even if not in the picture-perfect world that our fantasies would like it to be.