Thursday, February 3, 2011

Dreaming is free

Banksy wannabeI think I need to follow up a bit on yesterday’s entry.

I’m not a dreamkiller, for the most part. I’m not one to ridicule people for having ideas, or to shoot down someone’s dreams and aspirations. However, I am also überrealistic. Superpragmatic. Hyperpractical.

I saw this photo earlier today and it kind of gelled my thinking on this. (Marty’s comment about how dreaming is great, but you’ve got to have a plan to back it up was also excellent, and expressed my thoughts better than I did. Thank you, Marty!) The childlike graffiti of this Banksy wannabe shows a distinct lack of talent. (Scroll down a little further to see what the real Banksy is capable of.) Having a dream is fine, but you’ve still got to have some aptitude and talent there to build on.

BanksyPerhaps it’s important to distinguish between dreams and fantasies. I would equate dreams with achievable goals--as I mentioned yesterday, I got my degree, was good at my job, was able to qualify for a house loan. These are things that were within my grasp if I worked hard, and I did. However, the fantasy of being a rock star, although still technically achievable, was highly unlikely...astronomically unlikely. Why? Because I have little to no innate talent! Sure, I can try to learn and can probably get to the point where I can kind of play, kind of sing...but I don’t have that sort of talent that results in great songs and great music. It would be like if I said, “I may be five-foot-nothing, but if I work hard enough and practice hard enough, I can be a great basketball player!” That’s just silly. Maybe I’m cruel for thinking that not all fantasies should be encouraged, but I think I’m just being realistic.

I did okay in my math classes in high school, but I kind of struggled with them at times. (I still recall with fear and loathing the nine-week period that we focused on story problems in Algebra. It was a dark time for me.) What did I show an aptitude for? I did great in my English and lit classes, and I did great in my science classes. I chose to go the science route, and ended up in a health care job that I found rewarding and interesting for many years (and I still find it interesting and try to keep up on things...stay tuned for an Infection Connection coming your way soon!). It would have been foolish for me to pursue some sort of career that involved a lot of math (although some of my laboratory jobs did involve a fair amount), like astronomy or physics or engineering. I wouldn’t have found it enjoyable, and I wouldn’t have been good at it.

Banksy KatrinaDreams and ambitions can drive us and help us to reach our goals. That should be encouraged. But those who constantly talk about how they’ll achieve their fantasies, no matter how unrealistic, are just setting themselves up for failure, and possibly ridicule. After seeing many years of how this and that is going to happen, trips planned and never taken, books promised and never delivered (or flat-out plagiarized!), weird promises of homemade gifts or nothing at all, I find such posturings easy to dismiss. It’s been my experience that when your life is a constant litany of the next big thing, and when you never deliver...isn’t it time to quit fantasizing and start living?


  1. People look at me in a bemused way when I explain that I started out as a computer programmer because I was BAD at maths. Well, not bad but definitely fearful of the stuff. My future as a programmer was sealed with the purchase of a newfangled calculator - I didn't have to do the maths any more, because it did it for me! But your story algebra story is a familiar story to me! Unfortunately, it turns out that computer programming is one long story of story algebra, and how to express real-world happen-stance in logical, numerical ways. :o)

    Dreams are great, but it is only through pragmatism, realism and practicality that you're able to purchase the bed to dream in at night. :o)

    Great post, as always! Tell it like it really is, Beth!

  2. i think what you are speaking of is one of the current shortcomings in the educational system. once upon a time kids were tracked based on their ability and aptitude. i was tracked and i went to beauty school. other kids were tracked and took college prep classes or even ap classes and got college credit. sometime between the time after i graduated from high school and before i started teaching the system changed and decided that how kids feel about themselves was more important than their actual abilities ( or lack thereof).

    now we tell kids they are all special and unique and capable of everything which isn't always true for all kids, because of economic disparity or just lack of talent. nurture can make up for a lot, but the effort has to come from within the kid- all the pushing from the teachers/parents/administrators is not what creates drive and ability to succeed/ achieve.

    i can tell the kids fondly, ' i can't just rip off your head and stuff the knowledge down your throat you know.....' but i can't make them learn how to use their own strengths if the system is fighting against me in the process.


    excellent post.


  3. I remember taking home ed in school. I broke three sewing machines and almost burned the school down.
    I now make customs and people say I should have my own cooking show.
    Go figure.

  4. I think it is important to have achievable dreams.

  5. I think it's important to have achievable dreams AND those that are unlikely to be achieved. But it's also important not to waste huge amounts of time on the unachievable ones. I'm a wannabe in plenty of fields in which I'll never achieve, but it's fun to pretend. It's all about the balance.

  6. I think dreams and goal are what help us to be able to get out of bed in the morning. That said, I take issue with those who say you can be anything or do anything you want to. It isn't true - a blind person is not going to become an airline pilot no matter how strong their desire. The goals and dreams need not easy, but they doo need to be attainable.

  7. This entry is a well-written encapsulation of everything I believe about this particular subject as well...and what Alaina said too.


I'm funny how, I mean funny like I'm a clown, I amuse you?