I’m not exactly sure where I recall the statement, but in the last few weeks I heard someone say something to the effect of “you’ve been given this dream; it’s a crime to let it go”. The statement hit me pretty hard with the simple truth of it, striking the core of my being with something as immutably pure and direct as one can possibly be. This is partially because we all have some desire to live out lives of meaning and moving away from that seems criminal, but there is also another reason I was so strongly affected: I don’t really have a dream.
My life has been a series of interests and hobbies, some of them interconnecting and others having absolutely nothing to do with anything else. I’ve never been able to focus my attention on anything long enough to make it part of a lifelong dream. The only true constant in my life has been video games, but even that is mostly just something to pass the time. Occasionally a video game comes along that consumes quite a bit of my time because it has cool mechanics or a really great story, but for the most part it’s just something to do. I can’t stand being bored.
This approach to life has left me with quite a negative attitude about my personal path. It is very difficult to take satisfaction in anything because nothing I do really has any meaning. There are just a series of actions to be taken that result in another day marked off the calendar. No forward progression or anything really accomplished; just the passage of time. The longer it goes on, the more it eats at my soul and makes me feel a continued sense of uselessness, perhaps the worst possible fate for a man.
The reason the quote from the beginning of the article hit me so hard is that it revealed perhaps the biggest reason why I struggle so hard with my career: I’m not doing something I care about. It’s great to get a paycheck and to have a minimal sense of job security and all of those things, but ultimately a man needs to feel like his work matters. There has to be a force pushing him forward toward something that actually has meaning for him, and nothing I do really does that for me. It’s all just tasks to be completed with no grand plan.
The majority of people in the world today live with this kind of pall over their existence. As pawns in a greater game, we struggle to find happiness, not because we don’t have enough to satisfy our needs but because we don’t have enough to satisfy our dreams. Like everything else in the world, opportunities are finite, and there is only so much to go around. Some people are going to win while others are going to lose, whether it’s money or power or even the fulfillment of talent.
At this point, some of you might be thinking that I just haven’t found my dream yet, and perhaps you’re right. However, if you never find your dream, it leads to the same result as not having one at all. People search their whole lives looking for that one thing and never find it, and at some point you have to make a decision about how much effort you’re willing to put into satisfying that inner need for something more. Most people end up accepting that their lives are doomed to mediocrity. It’s simply the law of averages.
This isn’t a particularly inspiring post because I’m not feeling particularly inspired by the topic. There is a huge struggle within me that tries to balance a strong desire for more out of my life with a mindset that seeks to minimize wasted effort. The catch twenty two for me is that in my desire to not waste time or energy on things that aren’t likely to happen, I pass up chances at the very thing I want in the first place. There is no resolution except to either accept spending those resources on unlikely dreams, or live with the knowledge that I will never see my true potential. Depending on your own personal mindset, the advice can vary wildly. In the end, who knows what path I’ll take.
What do you think about unfulfilled dreams? Do you have something that burns within you that won’t go away, or do you struggle to find any meaning in the things you do? What kind of life do you envision for yourself? Too many of us are unrealistic about the kinds of lives we want, and not always toward the extravagant. Sometimes we settle too easily, or don’t try hard enough. Other times we reach too far. The struggle is knowing how much is just right.