One of my very best friends in the world has an expression he uses when we speak on the phone and I ask him how he’s doing. “Livin’ the dream,” he says with a sigh, and then he proceeds to tell me how much he’s actually not doing that. The conversation continues with us commiserating about irritants we’re enduring in our lives that are generated by bureaucracies, supervisors, or other individuals who are apparently clueless either at that moment or perpetually.
But interestingly, what seems to always come out of these conversations, no matter how aggravating the events or actors we discuss seem to be, is that there actually is “a dream.” Sometimes that we joke about a scenario where we manage a large jet for an even-tempered wealthy individual with a love of aviation and my friend and I, and perhaps a few other crewmembers, fly all over the world and have no one to deal with or report to besides the wealthy individual and ourselves. Other times that scenario involves another friend of ours who is continually searching for the right funding package to put together a flying operation that would not fly wealthy individuals but instead would transport needy children to St. Jude’s or transport our brave veterans to treatment centers. Still other times I tell him the dream I have if my writing career every really takes off, and that would be to build a Humanitarian Air Force, a network of aircraft that could deliver aid all over the world without having to wait for governments to get their acts together. But regardless of the form the dream takes, the fact is that it exists. And that’s the important thing.
Henry David Thoreau put it very well when he said: “Dreams are the touchstones of our character.” I agree with him. John Barrymore said: “Men are not old until regrets take the place of dreams.” And James Huneker said: “All men of action are dreamers.”
Dreams are important. They are who we are. And the degree to which any of us finds happiness can be truly defined by how close our dreams come to reality. Perhaps one day, my friend and I can look across the cockpit at one another and agree that we truly are “livin’ the dream.” And until that day, we won’t stop trying to get there.
No one should.