The Purpose of Dreaming

“I have come to believe that “coming true” is not the only purpose of a dream. Its most important purpose is to get in touch with where dreams come from, where passion comes from, where happiness comes from. Even a shattered dream can do that for you.” – Lisa Bu, “How Books Can Open Your Mind”

I got a little more out of listening to Lisa Bu than I had expected. It’s a Friday afternoon and my work day is winding down, and so around this time when I start searching for some inspiration while I hammer out the remainder of my day’s tasks. E-mailing pre-written template pitches to potential customers requires very little brain power.

But towards the end of her talk, she really caught my attention, with the line I quote above.

I had to listen to the last few minutes a few times over just to make sure I quoted her properly. The gist of her talk had to do with how books served as an avenue for understanding the world she found herself in, after having migrated from China to the U.S. She later explains how books open up our dreams.

This is a common enough notion, that books often allow for us to re-imagine our lives as we know it, or think up new lives entirely. But what struck me was what she said about dreams.

More often than not, I’m overly pre-occupied with my dreams less so because they are that interesting or exciting, and much more because I feel the need for them to come true. My sort of dreams aren’t the kind steeped in fantasy and adventure – they are shaped mainly by all these notions I have of what I’ve earned, what I then deserve, and what I desire most in order for my life to be most meaningful. They feel too real and too attainable for me to ever let them go.

I hadn’t thought about my dreams actually pointing me backward – to who I once was or where my ideas had come from. It just didn’t occur to me that they could be my mind’s way of turning its attention to the past, instead of fixing its gaze to the future.

And even the dreams that had already come to pass. Even the ones I held onto so tightly, that they broke in my hands. The ones that left shards of painful memories still embedded in my palms.

These ones, too, can take me still to where I have yet to go.

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