A dear friend recently celebrated a milestone birthday. After the food was eaten, wine drunk, toasts offered and dessert served, my friend rapped her glass for attention. She had a toast of her own to make, and, in the process, offered a word of wisdom. Follow your dream, she said, and told of something she had wanted to do all her life, that, after many close calls and much persistence, is finally now about to happen.
Follow your dream.
But what happens when you don’t have dreams?
I don’t. Not in the sense of life dreams. I grew up assuming I’d be dead by 45. My mother died at that age, so I would, too. My birthday wish, blowing out candles each year, was simply to live one more year.
Okay, I suppose that’s a dream. But it’s not like dreaming of living in Paris or being an actress or hiking the Appalachian trail. My dreams were all short-term, one year to the next. Even when I started writing, I took it one book at a time. I didn’t plan on amassing 80+ books to my credit, much less hitting the New York Times list however many times.
So here I am, still writing and in good health. What happens now?
I have goals. Not dreams. Goals. I want to finish Making Up, the book I’m currently writing. I want to see Scotland. I want to lose 5 pounds. These are not long-term life dreams. They’re just things that I want to do. A year or two ago, my list would have been different – and DO NOT use the words “bucket list” with me. They come from the phrase, “kick the bucket,” which means die, and having obsessed over dying for too many years, I’d rather be upbeat.
Goals imply something that can be realistically attained. I’m a realist. Goals work for me. I also like thinking of “wishes” and “adventures.”
Where do you stand on this? Is it important to have life-long dreams? Am I less complete a person for not having them? Or, to paraphrase that quote about love, is it better to have dreamed and lost, than never to have dreamed at all?