Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Reality-flavored Ambitions

To relentlessly pursue our dreams and aspirations is perhaps something we've all been encouraged to do at one point in our lives. After all, we hear it everywhere -- in the media plastered on billboards, or on inspirational TV ads, from self-help books, from shrinks and counselors, from our families and friends, name it! Even fortune cookies on most occassions! And many of us go through every single day of our lives either finding out ways to chase our dreams or simply dreaming about it. Bottomline, we each have one.. and basking in the glory of achieving our dreams is an experience we all wish to have one day. How we decide to get there is another story.

I, personally, have probably heard every cliche there is on adversity and resilience. And admittedly, I'm a big believer in ambition and faith -- which all points us towards the direction of chasing rainbows. I believe in sacrificing precious elements of my life in order to achieve a goal or in picking myself back up repeatedly if I get knocked back in attempting to reach for it. It's not a brand new concept and is actually quite simple. Unfortunately, very difficult to implement. Nonetheless, try and try until you die... that is what I say.

However, though that is what I say, every time I take on a chance that will bring me one step closer to my intent, there will always be a nagging voice at the back of my head going "Are you sure this is all worth it?" Intuition answers back a tad too quickly, "Of course it's worth it! It's my dream, it's my aspiration! It's absolutely worth it." But is it really?

Sure, numerous sacrifices are involved in pursuing a dream -- not rocket science, isn't it? We all have to work hard for something that we truly believe in. The question remains: Is it worth it?

Up to what extent is it allowable to push for an ambition before reality steps in to intervene?

Aaaah, reality. Where exactly does realism fit in when it comes to dreaming and aspiring? They say that dreaming has no bounds as it stretches beyond our wildest imaginations. I beg to differ -- I reckon that dreams only stretch as far as when reality stars to sets in.

In the ideal world, we go after our dreams, we toil hard, we sweat blood and tears... and eventually, with a bit of luck and prayer, we reach it. Unfortunately, in the real world, dreams and ambitions sometimes get traded for fulfilling obligations and responsibilities. Here in Asia, where success tends to be quantified, people may be given less opportunities to fulfill their aspirations because of their financial obligations to their family or otherwise. They are plagued by practicality and functionality.

For instance, in a typical family for five -- one set of parents plus three kids -- the eldest child, almost always, gets the extra pressure to help out and provide for the family. This usually entails acquiring a practical job that will yield financial gains and much success. Unless that child has always aspired for a practical job, he/she may have to put his/her dream on the backburner until a better time and opportunity arrives. To pursue a dream isn't exactly for free either. To dream of being a doctor can be one of the costliest ones to have. Sure, it's noble, and even practical to a certain degree... but to have the resources for it is another story. Again, back to our family of five, if the eldest child wishes to become a doctor to pull his/her family out of their dire situation, how much sacrifice would the whole family have to go through for that one child's dream?

In the ideal world, no one would have to give up anything for that one person to take his/her fighting chance to reach for that dream. But in the realistic world, is it worth the investment? To sacrifice four people's lives for the sake of one person's dream?

Passion -- something that is truly important in pursuing a dream, no? Coupled with the proper drive and discipline, it is already winning the first half of the battle. What about the second half where talent is concerned? What would you do if someone you love has the drive, ambition and passion for something that is not backed by talent and ability?

Let's say your daughter wants nothing more than to act and perform professionally. She pours her heart out in rehearsals, in training, in practicing. There's no question about it -- she indeed has passion. And though she has gotten better in time, you know deep inside that she neither has the talent nor the package to make it big. Gut feel, instinct -- after all, there's no real way of telling, right? How do you inject enough reality in her in order to cushion the blow of the harsh world?

Do we set ourselves up for disappointments when we set our hearts on something? When we want something so bad, feeling the pinch of failure is a hundred times the pain of trying to gain that success.

It's heart breaking when our dreams do not agree with our realities, for many reasons other than self-doubt and fear. There are ways around it though... after all, when the door closes, a window somewhere is opened, right? Perhaps the conflict of our dreams and realities is an indirect way of the universe telling us that we are meant for something bigger and better. Our destiny maybe? Disappointments will set initially and we mourn and dwell, but surely, it cannot be that way forever. We pick ourselves up and push forward again -- this time, for something else that suits us better. Life is a big game of trial and error. Just because we have cherry-picked a dream for ourselves doesn't mean it will work out.

The most important thing is that we have given it our best stab in acquiring that dream.

Adversity is for those who have constant hope and faith. However, the concept of reality can dangerously lean towards the fizzling out of hope and faith. It must be taken in ample doses... just enough to temper ambitions and risks. There is a fine line that distinguishes a pessimist from a realist. The difference is that a realist still has some sort of hope infused deep within whereas a pessimist has completely given up. And a realist is aware of boundaries and consequences -- and is simply taking measures to avoid it before moving forward.

Ambition must be tempered with a dash of reality... and a dollop of heart and soul.

"The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails." - William Arthur Ward

There's nothing wrong with a little practicality as long as it doesn't interfere with our passion, our drive and our motivation. After all, the wind is still there, we just have to set our sails so it would agree with our direction. Just the same with dreams. Dreams do not disappear... we just have to find the right ones for us... again and again.


Blogger riseoutofme said...

Reality can be a little harsh in this day and age .... Without our dreams we would be like lost souls.

Our success or failure to fulfill those dreams is all part of our souls journey.

Great post.

11:45 PM  
Blogger mind the gap said...

"The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails." Spot on - I think I'll pin this quote up. Living in Kiev, I have been through the first two emotions and have finally settled on realism. And a healthy dash of late night blogging helps ease things along a bit!

12:08 AM  
Blogger Maverick said...

the contrast between dreams n reality is wouldn't be too much to say i haven't read anything better on this topic till adding u to my blog roll.

1:03 AM  
Blogger paddy said...

Dreams should be left to interpretation, but unfortunately the interpreter's, whether they be church, lay or medical are usually out of reach for the individual for one reason or another.
The dreams you talk about are more like desires. I think if we could seperate the two respectivlly we might be able to cope more with what is again for most of us out of reach. So I ask: dream or desire?. You decide.
Nice post Princess. Y:-) Paddy

1:07 AM  
Blogger Tink said...

Eventually you build your dreams small enough to fit into your reality.

1:14 AM  
Anonymous susan said...

The thing about a (sleeping) dream is that it can change abrubtly and still make perfect sense. I believe that (desire) dreams can be the same way. Those little twists of fate can make it so much more interesting and still end up being perfect for the dreamer.

2:17 AM  
Blogger Shamash said...

for me dream = escapism. when i can escape into the thoughts of something serene away from this world into something more calmer and more customised for me

4:23 AM  
Blogger Another Twentysomething said...

Did you read "The Secret", that Oprah book thing thats becoming a movie?

4:58 AM  
Blogger Beyond said...

its difficult for humans to face reality cos its mostly not what we want or how we want it. but it is neccessary for us to accept thet the way we handle the reality about life influences our dream and sometimes dictate if the dreams will ever come true or not.

Thanks for stopping by my blog; really appreciate it.

5:10 AM  
Blogger Carrie said...

Fantastic post - especially thought-provoking when it comes to how much sacrifice should be allocated to a dream, be it yours or someone elses.

7:08 AM  
Blogger Mumbai Guy said...

You have summed it well with wonderful line - "the realist adjusts the sails"

Yupe, work hard to achieve your dreams but be with the world. Been there, done that. Still doing. I think.

8:56 AM  
Blogger nel said...

dreams + ambition = life ... it only natural to be human being with a conscious. Weather it is a curse or a blessing; it's still an individual perception in the end. After all, we did journey this far together in pain and happiness ... :)

10:15 AM  
Blogger Sooziii said...

We all need our dreams - big or small ; they often are what keep use going.........

10:51 AM  
Blogger Sling said...

..and if our dreams aren't fulfilled,we haven't failed.
It's the journey,the drive,the desire to become something more than our existence that makes us human,and brings us nearer the devine...
Beautiful post Princess!

12:21 PM  
Blogger whimsicalnbrainpan said...

Interesting.... This is the second post I've seen about following ones dreams.

What if you don't have one?

1:11 PM  
Blogger Keshi said...

sometimes u just gottta chase ur dreams w.o. listening to other ppl's opinions.


1:42 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

Live the dream as if it were real and happening now....
That is how dreams come true.....
It's when one stops believing or allows negative vibes to eat away the postitive vibes.
The old avage, it's easier to be negative than it is to be positive.

Optimist invented the plane.....
Pessemist invented the parachute

3:08 PM  
Blogger Rajeev said...

mamma mia!!
that was fantastic!
written so very well!!

Peace & Love

3:17 PM  
Blogger soul&body said...

yes, sometimes we have strange dreams like to travel in jupiter, probably that will never happen, we must cry many times for something happen...
but what can we do?! keep fighting? sure it depends what you wish!

6:09 PM  
Blogger Protegeoflife said...

Thanx for ur lovely comment and gr888 post for me as i am dream chaser and know when ambitions are confused with dreams lead to havoc called life

7:00 PM  
Blogger Jimmy said...

You are right ... dreams aren't always achievable. But sometimes you can just let yourself go with the flow, and the sandy beach you reach may be just the place for you ...
Okay, okay - this must seem like stupid philosophy, but that's what helped me in my little vie...

1:00 AM  
Blogger mathew said...

u come out with terrific quotes...loved it..

the trouble with dreams is that..if u try to reason with it..dream becomes a just becomes plain possible..and people would sometime love to imagine the impossible just for the heck of it..

5:46 AM  
Blogger Julia said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10:17 AM  
Blogger Aditi said...

Very well written.. for its important to understand that while dreams exist.. just because you are taking a practical decision to put it on a backburner doesnt mean u are giving up on it
there is a difference between a pessimist and a realist

2:17 PM  
Blogger alex said...


"How do you inject enough reality in her in order to cushion the blow of the harsh world?"

Talking about Art, it is difficult to be accepted in the world. It depends on what one wants from life. One can be an artist without the world accepting him/her. [The practicality issue is always there]

One can be anything in this world.

Like you say, never giving up is the way.

One person can really never say what is good for another. the 'worth' depends on the individual concerned.

10:18 PM  
Blogger FOUR DINNERS said...

Ambition is a poor excuse for not knowing how to be lazy. I was born to be rich and bone idle. Got the bone idle off to a tee....

ta f'rt visit

10:53 PM  
Blogger Kalyan said...

Yeah! there is nothing wrong to dream and dreams only help us carry forward in this hectic world today. Its not that all our drems get fulfilled but some do & thats what motivate us & once we dream we should really follow it, come what obstacles & we should also try a bit to help acheive other's dreams too...
really a well written post!

12:21 AM  
Blogger fifi said...

This made me think of that figure-skating incident many years ago...Tonya harding and Nancy Kerrigan competing for the US titles, or world titles or something..
When it was proven that Tonya had assaulted Nancy and thus knocking her out of contention, she defended her attack by saying
(in trashy us squeaky accent)

"..but it was my dream! what about my dream?...

so entrenched was the notion of achieving the great American dream that she felt justified in breaking someone elses legs...

interesting post. Shall think about that.

12:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well done. Very thought provoking.

3:02 PM  
Blogger XioniX said...

ur post cudn have come at a better time... nice to see that there is fresh touch of positive notion in it (as different frm the previous couple of blogs i read)

In the end, very realistic and in a sense true... one has to admit that passions can only be stretched as long as where reality sets in... but wat is life without hope and a little hope in miracles... :)

ya ya.. i kno wat u r gonna say... "now, here's an optimist who lives in his own little dream world"

7:49 PM  
Blogger alpine path said...

True, most of them make the mistake of choosing an unattainable goal and in the pursuit of it, fail to look at the beauty of the nearby wonders. They realize this only after the time is past and nothing can be done about it. Lets only hope that we get lucky enough to know which dreams are attainable and which ones are not.

5:35 PM  

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