A dream come true?

“More tears are shed over answered prayers than unanswered ones.” (Truman Capote)

“A dream come true” is just about the most enthusiastic description of an experience or state of affairs that you can get, topped only be “better than my wildest dreams”. Yet, there is also a recurring idea that getting what you want is the last thing you should want. As George Bernard Shaw put it, “There are two tragedies in life. One is not to get your heart’s desire. The other is to get it.”

It is certainly true that the reality of what we aspire to often disappoints. There is an unfortunate tendency to think that some future achievement will be our salvation. If only we had this, or did that, then we’d be complete. If we think in this way it is indeed better to travel hopefully than to arrive, for although at some point we are all finished, we’re never completed.

It is also true that we often don’t think through the consequences of our ambitions. People buy idyllic country cottages, only to realize they hate being isolated and twenty miles from the nearest source of food and drink. Others get what they want in their careers, but underestimate the cost to their personal lives and states of mind. We think we know what we want when we should know that our desires are only as reliable as the beliefs that inform them.

Neither of these dispiriting truths, however, is a good reason not to dream. Rather, they are reminders that our dreams must be lucid. As the say goes, “Be careful what you wish for” not “don’t wish for anything at all.” With the wrong aspirations, life is like swimming hard in the wrong direction. But without any aspiration at all, we are simply treading water.

(Adapted from ‘Should You Judge This Book by Its Cover?’ by Julian Baggini)

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~ by irwin on February 8, 2012.

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