Impossible Dreams

I have been thinking a great deal about where I want my life to go in the next few years.  Part of this is due to coming at long last to the end of my schooling and the concomitant assessment of my current career trajectory.  Part of it is my nearing 29th birthday.  Part of it is all the classical philosophy and theology I’ve been reading, which is almost all about how to live well.  Part of it is no doubt due to listening to Man of La Mancha too often.

The world issues invitations.  The wizard scratches a sign on the doorway, and suddenly one finds oneself heading off into the blue wildlands looking for dragons.  For a long time I’ve been quite content with the intellectual adventures, expeditions into the Commonwealth of Letters, the deeper investigation into a narrow field that is writing a doctoral dissertation, the wider views afforded by teaching highlights of the western canon to intelligent and engaged first-year undergraduates.  I am much less given to physical daring.  I would like to be; I would like to be the sort of person who —

Well.  That’s the question, isn’t it?  What are my impossible dreams, the kind that make us human?  Animals are practical and pragmatic and to all observation completely uninclined to launch after the second star on the left and write about their dramatic failure to arrive in Neverland — or back home.  But I am coming more and more to the position that it precisely this (and not simply being rational) that makes us human beings a different sort of animal.  We are the rational bipeds, it is true; we are also the dreamers and creators, the artists of lesser creation.  We do not just see; we imagine, and not in the medieval sense of that word.  We envision things, and then go out to try building them.

What are my impossible dreams, the ones that shape my humanity?  They range: some are very private, others ones I’m willing to share with the world, or that portion thereof reading this.  I write and want others to be touched by my writing, see the worlds I imagine, know my characters.  I have gardens in my mind’s eye I wish to create, stained glass windows that will one day transform light to story.  I have music buried somewhere deep beneath my inability to keep time and far beneath my ability to bring it forth, but sometimes I imagine the edges of what might be there, if I were a musician who could play it.  I have countries whose dust I wish to tread: I want to know what it is to walk across a continent, answering invitations.  I have sunrises to laud and horses to ride; some day I will hunt with a falcon.

One day, not too long from now, I will walk out my door one fine morning and just keep walking.  Not running away, mind: running to.


6 thoughts on “Impossible Dreams

  1. What a lovely barb in the tail of that definition! Yes; I feel that the standard definitions of man as the rational animal need a small amount of reassessment following the last century’s experiments in biology. Not that I’ve read a lot of it, but enough to wonder whether that’s really all that’s going on in the difference between the human animal and the rest. To me it seems much more the ability — and tendency — to make sublimely useless things, like statues and surrealist poetry, that separates us from the bees or the ravens. G.K. Chesterton points out the very oldest evidence of the definitely human (as opposed to hominid) are cave paintings. Several million years of stone tools — and then suddenly there are petroglyphs.


  2. I recently bought a new Mac, and having just spent most of the accompanying $100 iTunes gift card, I am inclined to agree with much of what you say. I have fairly wide-ranging listening tastes, but all of it matters to me for reasons that are not tied to a narrow definition of utility. I might decide that such elements of human life serve a greater or higher utility, at least in my own life, but that is a separate argument to be made.


  3. Pingback: Derring-Do For Beginners « The Rose and Phoenix Inn

Join the Conversation

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s