I have been pondering over the last couple of days what exactly to write about – in fact, I barely had a subject matter covered until just a mere few moments ago. Idea after idea has been rejected and deemed unworthy or considered a likely 'boring' subject matter in the eyes of my own demographic, until something rather extraordinary happened. The topic of this piece did, quite literally, come to me in a dream. Several, in fact. Every dream I've ever had.
Calling the appearance of a strange or unexplainable dream “rare” would be quite the understatement, especially to me. It was just last night that I was left in a daze after witnessing the events of mass destruction in the form of a 50 foot tidal wave, whilst also missing the 7 o’clock bus – only to wake up and find myself in my own bed, the only remnant of any form of wave being the cold sweat beading the back of my neck. For about an hour, at least after I recognised that the world I had woken up to was, indeed, the real one, the dream had no real merit – I've not taken a bus in about a year, let alone missed any in that amount of time – but it was something that must have stirred my subconscious to a high enough degree for me to be thinking about it without even realising why.
It was then that I was hit by a second wave – a wave of questions to be exact. Why on Earth would I be thinking about tidal waves and buses? Why did they appear in tandem? Why was there a delay between 'waking up' and mentally recognising the surrounding environment as 'real'? All these questions with unexplainable answers; answers which can only argued, not be proven. However, despite how wishful it may seem, I believe that dreams do have merit in their own rights, even if just for presenting a set of mental entrapments which your brain must cognitively work itself out of. There is a challenge in dreaming, a challenge which those of physical sporting activities could never live up to.
Our brains, being the most developed amongst the species on this planet, were built to think such extraordinary thoughts, to question the possibilities and the boundaries of our lives which society itself would deem rather fruitless to say the very least. Those childish dreams of flying or conquering worlds tend to dissipate as we are taught more and more that these values are unachievable, and so such thoughts become subconscious. Yet no matter how much you teach yourself to not give in to flights of fancy, your brain will, every once in a while, want to reject the rational ‘realism’ society demands and replace it with the worlds in which our childhoods were lived – hence the existence of 'daydreaming'.
In fact, lack of this imaginative thinking has led to some shocking evolutionary developments, especially regarding our own generation. As humans today, without the decidedly more arduous hardships experienced by our ancestors, we do tend to 'fetishize' the idea of hard work, at least to a larger extent than we used to. Those who work for longer hours are applauded, whilst those who “take the easy way out” are ridiculed. More and more, this is becoming the case amongst the members of a western society, upon realising that finding loopholes and shortcuts which involve a minimal amount of cognitive effort are often more rewarding in the short-term than the longer, more mentally strenuous counterpart.
The argument which states that kids “have it a lot easier than they used to” may not be entirely as a result of their own doing – if at all. The world we have built up is too advanced for us. In other words, the desire to achieve and “dream big” may slowly be being stripped from our very minds. It is a sad likelihood that a child today would choose to drop out of college due to the sheer simplicity of that option, rather than chase the dream they have been aspiring to for years. Too often, I overhear or am involved in conversations in which the response to why a task or goal has been dropped is “It's just effort”. Sure, the worry of homework has been eradicated as a result of dropping a subject, but what happens when you apply for your dream University and get turned down, because the competition had more qualifications than you did? Was it really worth “bailing out”?
Yet, on many occasions, the events which occur in your dreams are indeed physically impossible. Sprouting a pair of wings and flying away to salvation isn't something we, as of yet, have ticked off the list of things we have done, but they provide something more real than you probably realise. Achievement. At the end of a dream, it is likely that at least one obstacle, no matter how insignificant, has been overcome as a result of cognitive thinking – your brain subconsciously working its way out of a situation by means of changing the environment around you to suit the best possible outcome, or changing things about yourself to attain the same. The truth is, we all have the capability to reach our goals – the only barrier separating us from them is hard work. Those who are willing to think outside the box will go far, whereas those who confine themselves to society's regulations of 'average' will never know what it's like to go beyond the status quo.
In the words of American poet Langston Hughes: “Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.”
Amy-May Williams, Year 12