Dreams, visions and Dead Sea Fruits

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

W.B. Yeats

You may be familiar with the poem above by W BYeats; it’s a personal favourite and not just for the lyrical magical language and sentiments. The tragedy of the reality behind it gets to me too; the woman did not tread softly.

To dismiss or criticise someone’s dreams and hopes and ambitions is a terrible thing, and I’d be willing to bet than most people here have had it happen to them. I’d also be willing to bet that whether you admit it to yourself, you will probably have done it, probably unintentionally, to someone dear to you. From personal experience, it hurts disproportionately to have it done to you. So I’m treading very softly here and I would ask that you read what I say carefully because I know I will be treading a very fine path between clarifying my own thoughts and seeming to criticise others, indirectly. I am aiming at promoting self examination, not self mutilation.

I have dipped from time to time into the blog of writer Paulo Coelho. You are probably familiar with his most famous book, The Alchemist, which is a story that is often quoted as being about someone following their dream. I did rather enjoy the book, which is written in a naive and slightly fairytale manner. I don’t read the blog for Coelho’s words, but rather for the responses of the readers, and it has begun to disturb me enormously.

I’m rather hazy about exactly why it all disturbs me so much. I have a dislike of gurus, especially living ones, and find it hard to nail my colours so firmly to a mast as so many of Coelho’s fans have done, and become incapable of accepting that their guru has faults and failings, and does not hold all wisdom. Every little snippet of pseudo-wisdom is snapped up and devoured eagerly. The one that is most eagerly devoured is the concept of following your dream.

It is consuming many people and it terrifies me, because of the effects this will have. I believe that many people are actually destroying thir own lives because of a misunderstanding.

When I was a kid, one of my dreams was to become an astronaut. A little later it was to become a doctor and find a cure for cancer. You might smile, but these were very important to me then. But they changed. I began to realise not only would it be nigh-on impossible to become an astonaut, but also that it was something I didn’t actually want to do. I’d read immense amounts of science fiction, and was in love with the idea of strange new worlds to explore, of discovering the hero in myself and of a happy ending and a ticker-tape parade when I got back. This was not reality, nor was it anything I really wanted. I still read science fiction but I now explore the wonders of the Otherworld.  The dream of becoming a doctor went the same way; I realised it was not MY dream at all. In some measure I had picked up subconsciously on what I felt my father would particularly approve of, and had woven that into my dream fabric. The reality would have been utterly wrong for the person I am. I’d make a good doctor now, maybe, with a great deal more humliity than I had then, and a world of compassion.

The truth is, these were not my dreams. Not the true dreams of the heart. They were fantasies. I fear that a great deal of what people believe to be their dreams are such as this, and have not changed since the person was a child. My faith is a different animal from what it was then, why not then my dreams? So many people never examine their inmost thoughts and deepest feelings, and see if they are what they once thought them to be.

So, you must know your truest, deepest dreams and then you throw everything after them, sacrifice family friends and everything to get them?

Again, no. If this is how you proceed, then it is not a true dream but an obsession. Yes, to make a dream reality you have to work at it and you have to make sacrifices. But you only have the right to sacrifice what is your own, not that of your spouse or children or parents or lovers. They too have their dreams. In chasing yours, are you destroying theirs?

And then there is natural wastage. For every success, a dozen or more failures. For every star, hundreds of wannabes who never make it. For every diva, a chorus line of hopefuls. Some of us won’t make it to our dream.  But perhaps we may realise that the destination was not the dream at all but the journey was.

Finally there are those who achieve the dream and find it is dust in their mouths, like the Dead Sea Fruit that promises so much and delivers so little. They may have cast adrift everything on the way and if you ask them was it worth it, what can they say at that point but yes? To say no is admitting the failure of a dream to achieve the fulfillment we have been led to believe comes of it.

You see, what can you do when you finally achieve your dream? When there is nothing more to do than polish the trophies and savour the memories and hoard the gold? Alexander wept when he had no more worlds to conquer.

We are born in a state of perpetual motion, of striving and seeking. To stop means decay.

There are always more worlds to conquer. Don’t limit yourself to a single dream and chase it to the exclusion fo all else. Spend time with yourself and find what are your truest dreams and work towards them. Don’t expect things to magically fall into place  and worry if they do. I used to envy JKRowling, author of the Harry Potter books because she had achieved the success I crave ( we are the same age more or less!); now I feel nothing but the deepest sympathy for her because what can she ever do that will match in the eyes of most people what she has already done. There are no more Everests of that ilk for her to climb.


11 thoughts on “Dreams, visions and Dead Sea Fruits

  1. “I am aiming at promoting self examination”

    In my view you have achieved that aim wonderfully!

    There is so much in what you have written and whilst I am in 100% agreement with every word I can see why some people may find it thought provoking or upsetting. Either way I think that is a positive anyway!

    Had I read this a year ago it would have challenged my beliefs to the point where I might have felt some kind of upset or anger and would have ended up dismissing it altogether.
    In hindsight, however, it is the times when I have had my beliefs challenged that I grew the most and now I realise that it wasn’t until I started looking deep within myself as opposed to looking up to a “guru” that I began to see and more importantly feel that I was growing in a positive direction and actually enjoying the journey.

    I also used to believe every word from these “gurus” which, in the end, actually led to more confusion!

    Reading this has left me feeling extremely grateful to you for writing it and feeling privileged to have read it.
    Should anyone feel challenged or upset by it, I sincerely hope they take some time to stop and think why!

    (You can stop the nail biting now!!!)



  2. I am glad you understand. It’s a terrible place to be in where speaking your real deepest thoughts risks having people condemn or dismiss both you and those thoughts. I call it the Cassandra Conundrum: to speak the truth but seldom be believed. And in the end it is only the truth as I(just me, personally) see it.
    I also do not believe in the Law of Attraction, but its a complex issue and I’m already tired. Suffice it to say it is because I know I am not the centre of the universe and do not see why it should shift round me just to fulfill my dreams. I do believe that when it does seem to shift round a person’s needs and dreams, it is because it also fulfills a much greater and more expansive”plan”. We are each a child of the universe, a beloved child of God, but there are now billions of us; therefore we need to remember this, and see ourselves as a cog in a great machine, as enablers of a greater destiny than our own small personal one. My unfulfilled dreams and hopes may be a part of a much larger plan and I must trust that they will unfold gently in their own right time.
    If you pick open a bud before it is ready to bloom, you destroy the flower. I do wonder if by pursuing some dreams we not only trample on the dreams of those around us, but we also can destroy the heart of our own without knowing it. I already have a life that a vast number of people may only dream of; by chasing chimeras of dreams, I risk harming that which may be my real dream, lying unacknowledged before me.
    Many thanks for your feedback, J, and your honesty. Bless you.

  3. Excellent post, Viv! I agree with what you are saying. It touches directly on some issues I am struggling with right now; and as always, you give me some great food for thought today 🙂 Thank you!

    • Thank you Shelley. If what i say gets people thinking, then I am happy. Even if they disagree! Just as long as no one has a nasty “go” at me for it, that’s OK.
      I think that a great number of people struggle with these issues and the temptation is to seek answers that put you as the centre of the universe.
      I have also been thinking a great deal about the unsung heroes of the world, the unthanked millions over the centuries who facilitated the dreams of others and are now forgotten.
      bless you!

  4. I wanted to respond earlier but work got in the way until now!
    The Law of Attraction is an interesting and as you say a complex issue. For me the term has been completely destroyed largely thanks to “The Secret” and what followed on from that.
    If people end up believing that all you have to do is decide what you want, visualise already having it and without further effort it will materialise as if by magic, there are going to be a lot of disappointed people! I used to be one of them!
    More importantly though, the way the concept of the law of attraction seems (at least to me) to be presented these days is to focus on nothing other than the end result. It took me a while to get the fact that the journey is the magical part – not the end result. I am not suggesting it is wrong to want more, but it is the journey that makes you appreciate the end result, which in fact doesn’t really exist as, you quite rightly pointed out, we are always evolving and our dreams constantly change. (Sorry for the long rant!!)

    May you always be blessed


    • I know what you mean. I’ve glanced at The Secret and similar texts but they have not moved me, because of this misunderstanding.
      My own dreams and goals are very dear to me, but one thing I discovered is that simply the universe does not revolve around me. I saw yesterday that Coelho wrote in response to a question from a reader, that the universe is merely and echo of our desires and dreams and I was simply appalled. This brings into play a hundred hard questions. I won’t go into it here (I’m typing in my pyjamas!) but I think it is just nonsense, and very close to declaring one’s self a god.
      I also realised some years ago that the achieving of a goal is nothing like so much fun as the process. When I finish a book, I feel flat and dead, and empty. Beyond a brief moment of triumph, a punch in the air, it is over. To learn to enjoy the process is vital to a healthy inner life, or you are forever rushing forward and finishing for the sake of finishing. I can think of various metaphors but it’s possibly too early in the morning for THAT!!
      and may you also be blessed. I know myself blessed.

  5. Learning to enjoy the journey has been one of the most valuable lessons I have ever learned (Not sure that I have completely learned it yet but I am working on it). It was focusing on the end result that brought me confusion, impatience and unhappiness.



  6. Oh Viv.. Your words resonate with me so much.. I have never been able to cope with any “guru” type figure.. I believe we all need to find our own path – the one that leads to peace and harmony within..

    Great post.. Thank you..

    • Fibi, I’d love to find a guru but that would be counter-prodcutive really, because it would demand that I give up my right to my own thoughts and discoveries. I’d like to have a rest from my own seeking at times and have someone tell me what to do and what to think….for about five minutes at any rate.
      The trouble with gurus is they too are humans and are fallible and get lost at times. So I read what I can, and mull it over inside me and find the truth of it myself.
      How are you now?

  7. The journey is everything! The journey is all we have. Even when we reach the goals we’ve set for ourselves the dream shifts and the journey continues. If you aren’t enjoying the journey it’s time for a new dream.

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