Monday, January 15, 2007

The Time Of Second Dreaming

My son is wise beyond his years. He showed me a quote by William Shakespear: The very substance of the ambitious is merely the shadow of a dream.

This quote has stuck with me and I've tried to unpack its meaning. For one thing, I think of myself and my ambitions. I've noticed that there are times of my life when I've been more ambitious and less. And I've been reflecting upon the dreams I dreamed as a teenager. I think that my substance today is the product (as in multiplication) of my ambition times my dreams.

I've enjoyed a modicum of financial success. I'm comfortably middle class, and I've made more money than my father. That's what I had to have. I had vague dreams of being rich, but I never put a lot of effort to that end. Let's say someone dreams of being a millionaire and his ambition is 10%, then maybe he'll end up with $100 grand.

Dreams set the course of our futures. But merely setting the course does not suffice. Something has to power our lives and that is ambition. I've seen dreams and ambitions wax and wane over the years. And I think of that thing I went through called Midlife Crisis.

When a man goes through Midlife Crisis, he realizes there are some dreams that will never come true. Or perhaps, if he's ambitious enough, he realizes he's achieved his dreams and he's restless about what to do next. Some wig out, buy a red Corvette and a blond spouse-upgrade. What's going on?

I think Midlife Crisis is the time of Second Dreaming. You look at your teenaged dreams, and what you've accomplished at the midpoint of your life, and you start dreaming a mid-course correction. I did this several years ago and what came out of that time was a recollection of my interest in philosophy. I had been quite good at it and quite interested in it in college, but in grad school and in work afterwards, I left the philosophy alone and concentrated upon geekish and professional considerations. And I also started writing then.

Now, I'm looking at my ambition, at my drive. I can coast or float, Or I can stomp on the gas pedal and crank the volume to 11. My decision really.

I speak of teenage dreams and midlife dreams as if they are the only times one dreams. I think this is not wise. We ought to periodically look at ourselves, where we are, who we are, what we have and decide whether we need more, less, or different. It's the difference between Big Up Front Design versus Incremental Deliveries.

I'm probably not making sense. It's late and I shall go to sleep.

Perchance to dream.

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