Sunday, November 16, 2008

How Our Dreams Define Us

I recently had a conversation with a highly enlightened friend from another country who surprised me by asking in the first five minutes of our very first conversation what my dreams were.

I correctly guessed that he wasn't referring to what thoughts or images pass through my mind during the REM (rapid eye movement) stage of sleep, aka: dreaming sleep… but what dreams were he referring to? Career? Family? Financial? Fantasy? Relationship?

I tried to answer the question, but there are so many ways to take that. I must not have hit upon an answer that would satisfy him, because during the course of our conversation he must have repeated that question sixteen times or so.

I finally asked him what his obsession was with that question. His answer was that if you know what a person's dreams are, you don't have to ask them a ton of other questions to find out who they are, what they stand for and what they want out of life.

I thought that was pretty profound, and started to take a closer look at what exactly I want out of life, and what my "dreams" would be. At this point of my life, I should certainly know!

Sometimes the answers are obvious but general. "I want to be happy. I want to be successful."

Sometimes you have to look at things backwards and work your way out to narrow them down: "I don't want to be poor. I don't want to die young."

Sometimes we don't know how to quantify what we want, but we would recognize it if we had it. Or maybe we'd just THINK we'd recognize it.

But it's pretty safe to say, that if a person has no dreams or they haven't put any thought into what they want from life, want to contribute to the world or what they're doing on this planet- they're probably not doing anything productive and just floating by opportunities without any awareness. It's probably pretty safe to say, these folks are fairly emotionally, and mentally immature.

Wikipedia defines "Maturity" as: "a psychological term used to indicate that a person responds to the circumstances or environment in an appropriate manner." Also "the age/stage when an organism can reproduce. It is sometimes considered synonymous with adulthood, though the two are distinct."

I however have a different definition for maturity. I believe age is irrelevant. Instead I believe that maturity is at whatever point that you know enough about yourself to know WHO you are, and WHAT you want and then knowing HOW to get it and being ABLE to get it.

I have met some very mature teenagers and some wildly immature mid-lifers. The ability to pro-create doesn't impress if you're irresponsible, irrational, childish and unmotivated. And the duration of time you've spent on this planet is irrelevant if you've done nothing with that time.

Therefore, a mature person would have well defined dreams and would be actually pursuing them: making their dreams a reality. In the grand scheme of things, time really does trickle through your fingers with no way to stop it and no way to slow it down.

How you choose to spend your time not only says a ton about you, but could very well determine your destiny. Will you be etched into the history books of the future? Will you leave behind a legacy of positive events/ changes and posterity? Or will your eulogy be just one more ignored small paragraph on a newspaper at the bottom of a bird cage?

I believe in Time being the great equalizer on this earth. While alive, we all have the same amount to decide what to do with. It would make sense that how we use that time and whether we choose to hunger after self-improvement and be driven to obtain our wants and not just sit around pouting that we don't already have them, would be an excellent way to determine the character of a person.

And certainly, those are the kind of people that an equally motivated, ambitious and mature person would want to surround themselves with. It sounds like the dream question would be a pretty effective way to narrow down the prospective friends and partners a person would have.

A wise and mature person knows that:


Ever notice how groups of people who spend lots of time together tend to listen to the same music, dress in a similar fashion, often have similar lifestyles and frequently make many of the same choices in other areas? Chances are if they were able to answer the dream question, their dreams would be about the same too.

Honestly though whether they are like each other because they spend time together, or choose to spend time together because they are like each other doesn't really matter if the end result is the same.

Whether we want to be or not, we are very much influenced by the people we talk to, spend time with and surround ourselves with. The more often we see them, the more they can influence us.

It might be a good idea to take a closer look at the friends and family members we spend the most time talking to. Do we want to be like them? Do we want to have experiences like the ones they have- in our lives? Do we want our lives to end the way theirs probably will?
Those are a lot of unknowns that can probably be answered with just one question.

So this is my question to you:

What are YOUR dreams?

1 comment:

Peter said...

Super sweet awarenesses here.
I love the attention to how we can choose to shape our lives or how we can choose to engage by default with what we only blandly know.
How astute of your friend to boil someone's orientation in life down to their dreams.
I was recently asked by a mentor to define my goals again and while this is something that I think about and work toward regularly, it was surprisingly fresh and created more clarity than I had expected. Who knew that to just write down what I"m wanting would bring so much more clarity of focus.
In doing so I realized how big my vision is and that I need to make some adjustments right about now in order to swing it into the weave of my life.

Here's something that caught my attention in this blog.
"It would make sense that how we use that time and whether we choose to hunger after self-improvement and be driven to obtain our wants... would be an excellent way to determine the character of a person."
I was conversing with someone the other day and it came up how it seems that sometimes we're just surviving our lives rather than living them enthusiastically. In looking at that I came to a place of wondering what it is in me that gets me back in the saddle when I've been bucked by a hurricane of circumstance.
What I told her was that I often sense myself as being unusual and the best I could figure is that I make it a point to be a better person each day and that I review what I could have done differently or when I "totally knew" to do this and I went and did that cause everyone else said so or because it was the "right" thing to do.
It's like I'm getting that by choosing to follow my knowing in the moment (when I've clearly defined my dreams) that following will always lead me there with more ease than if I don't.
I look at it as if it's a little something extra I was given to see what I could do to make the best of it. For me, when I include others in my dreams, while I want them for myself and what I know is possible, when I also extend the benefits out to others, the dream becomes so much more powerful for me. It becomes something that's larger than I am.

From what I know, as a balance to what this blog brings, I would bring in a seeking of inner Joy in the moment as something to orient toward, like a compass when my dreams have been defined.
For me this takes it out of the external and brings it back home where I get that I'm the one choosing to follow and how amazingly delicious that feels when I'm aligned and in that flow.