Living the Impossible Dream

JONATHAN CARROL, OPINION WRITER

With a new year, recent resolutions and the start of a new semester, dreams of achievement are sure to be fresh in our minds. I hesitate to attempt to dissuade people from dreaming of achievement, but, upon consideration of the matter, I am left with the conclusion that perhaps we assign too reverent a flavor to the taste of victory for us to consider the benefit of anything but. Perhaps, then, with this recent slew of new opportunities, there is no better time than now to consider the benefits of pursuing other dreams.

I am not referring to the cliché of “you learn best from your mistakes,” even if there may be some worth to the sentiment. Instead, I believe that it is more beneficial to dream of acting than to aim for milestones. Reaching a milestone and consequently leaving your mark in some capacity will likely lead to some sense of fulfillment, but these milestones, however small, can only at best be achieved intermittently. Furthermore, they are prone to leave in their wake a state of lull, which near invariably accompanies a sense of achievement. Not only does “achieving” lead to inconsistent fulfilling experiences but also an impending lack of effort to follow every stepping stone along the way. So yes, there are certain benefits to dreaming of achievement, but the benefits seem lacking when compared to what they could be. But what dreams may we pursue to yield these benefits? Again, I wish to submit for consideration the dream of acting in lieu of achieving.

Acting is far less tangible than an achievement, and, for that reason, more fulfilling if we allow it to be as much. To the person who dreams of achievement yet only ever acts, yes, such a person will lack a sense of fulfillment, seemingly mired in acting and never quite reaching whatever goal he or she has actually set for him or herself. However, to the person who dreams of acting, to be able to act–be it teaching, learning, serving, playing sports or creating art–is fulfillment purely in virtue of the action.

Every instance of acting, from being in the moment of acting to knowing that one can be acting once again the next day, provides a sense of fulfillment. This constant influx of fulfillment supersedes the jolting sense of fulfillment gained by pursuing achieving. There may be no end in sight for the person pursuing dreams of acting, and so much the better; with no end to the dream, that person is able to live that dream each and every day.

Achieving may be able to reach completion, but that completion will not last the same way that living a dream without end may. With this knowledge in mind, and so many opportunities for dreaming facing us in the wake of the New Year, consider what you are dreaming of–achieving or acting.

The impossible dream versus the achievable dream seems an easy answer that would not even require thought to determine which is wiser to pursue. Yet, with due thought, the impossible dream arises as the clear winner–and victory never tasted so sweet.

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