Dreams limited

16 07 2015

The adage “Always aim for the moon, even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” makes perfect sense to me now. But there was a time when it was as incomprehensible to me as Greek and Latin. 😛 All my childhood and early youth I struggled to fathom the deeper meaning of it without avail. Its import and impact was completely lost on me. I genuinely failed to understand how aiming high or dreaming big is possible. I now reflect on that perception of mine with more than a little sadness. Lacking the self-esteem to even wish big things for oneself is perhaps one of the most devastating disabilities one can have.

As the great scientist and thought leader Abdul Kalam has aptly said,

“Dream, Dream Dream

Dreams transform into thoughts

And thoughts result in action.”

Dreams make things possible. Without a dream, there is no vision, no concrete ambition or goal worthy enough and life may seem so meaningless. I believe that everyone has the “potential” within oneself to be anything he or she wants to be. The key is to realize/know/dream what one wants to be, and with passion. And only then the focused effort will take you places. To quote Kalam again, “You have to dream before your dreams can come true”. 🙂 I’m now inclined to believe that being unable to dream limits one’s progress and chances of success, despite one’s abilities.

When I really think about it, even my parents had no big dreams for my brother or myself. They had modest wishes for their children, as if wishing for more is somehow inappropriate. I think the general sentiment is to be blend with the herd.  It’s enough if we can achieve “this”, only because that’s what everyone around deems as ‘acceptable’ and ‘success’. Nothing more, because there is no need for it.  Sure, you need to be ahead of the race, for survival sake. But you have no choice in which race you can participate in. Most likely, the race is already chosen for you.

I don’t mean to generalize, but the general lack of self-esteem, in the name of practicing humility and displaying modesty, is not an uncommon phenomenon among the Indian middle-class.  Naturally, it follows that “dreaming big” doesn’t dwell too well with them. It usually is an exception, rather than the norm. I attribute this narrow view of life to the characteristic middle-class mentality, in which the prevailing attitude is ‘life is a struggle’ and the whole purpose of life is to chug through the maze of life, just surviving. Surviving life, with all its struggles and myriad problems, is the whole point.  Managing problems is the way of life, not trying to mitigate or raise over them. My intention is not to undermine the significance of “survival”, which of course is important,  but rather to point out the overbearing nature of this attitude, which often overshadows people’s ability to dream and thereby make it big.

On a side note, I think the Indian middle-class has a similar narrow perspective about happiness too. It may seem absurd to think that there might exist something called “too much happiness”, but I guess “a completely happy person” makes people around uncomfortable and even perceived as abnormal. :P. Expressing joy too much is almost frowned upon. In this humorous and satirical post,  the blogger wonders why elders police laughter and bemoans the “partiality against laughter”.   😛

On the other hand, I’m a little skeptical about America’s cornerstone belief in the limitlessness of what an individual can achieve or be, too. It puts humongous amount of stress on people to achieve and succeed, leading to detrimental effects like depression, addiction to speed etc. Like everything in life, finding the right balance is the key. Aim to reach for the stars, but have your feet firmly on the ground.

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