I've taken to daydreaming lately.
When I was a kid, I used to dream about being the president of the world. To me this meant that I'd know all the answers to all the questions in the universe. In my fantasy I would sit on a giant throne like the king in the Little Prince surrounded by books, which I would never have to consult because the answers would simply appear. There would be a giant desk in front of me and all day long people would come and ask their questions to which I always had answers.
These days I find myself mulling over another kind of dream job. I want to be the person who announces to sick people that they are cured from their diseases and will live a long and healthy life. I don't actually imagine coming up with cure to these ailments -- I never liked blood very much and it's too much of a stretch to imagine working in a lab -- but I want to be the one who gets to announce it.
When I make this pronouncement, I am wearing long, white flowy dresses that, in retrospect, look suspiciously like whatever I last saw on Say Yes to the Dress. Sometimes I'm wearing a bright fuchsia bubble dress and a tiara. These are days where I know I'm spending too much time with my 6-year-old Goddaughter and need to lay off the Princess punch. The dialogue, however, is always the same.
I swoop in and grandly announce: "You are cured! You are well! Go live your life!" to which the no-longer patients and their families respond ecstatically with joy. There are never any 'thank yous' in the fantasy. It's the joy that comes from having someone's yearning to be healthy fulfilled that is pleasurable to me. It's about being present when other people's dreams come true.
As shocking as this is to me still, I did not become president of the world, but I did do my doctorate in psychology and am well on my way to becoming a professor. There are lots of books, but unfortunately, not a lot of answers. Still, the fantasy to know things -- to dedicate my life to discovering answers has been somewhat satisfied.
The second dream is newer, a bit harder to accomplish and has gotten me wondering not so much about how to make it happen, but why I'm dreaming this dream at this particular moment.
The truth is that things have not been going well lately in the dream department.
I'm turning 30 next month and thought I would have three kids by now, be living somewhere else, have my first book published (a runaway best-seller, of course!), and have a tenure track job secured. Granted, this is completely unrealistic given how much time each of these endeavors takes to accomplish, not to mention all the uncontrollable factors like the economy, the sheer luck of finding the love of your life, and the dearth of academic jobs these days. Still, these dreams are not completely unachievable. It's not like I want to be a rock star or an Olympic gymnast. So what gives?
I always thought that if you worked really hard and put your whole heart into achieving your dreams, they would come true. It turns out, this is not so. At least not for me, at least not lately.
Do other people feel this way? To test it out, I asked some friends about their own dream jobs -- real or imagined -- and this is what I heard:
Space cowboy, professional lottery winner, mattress tester, star of a TV cooking show, and being a good vampire were a few of the fun ones. Most people just wanted to do good in the world. One friend wanted to be the "worlds greatest dad" or a National Geographic photographer. One wanted to open a wellness resort, while another wanted to run a foundation with "tons of money" to support good causes. Only one person out of the many said they already have their dream job -- and she is an artist.
We are told to work hard and reach for our dreams even though most people's aspirations never come true. Is the expectation of achieving them and failing more painful than not dreaming at all? I don't have an answer. Do you?
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