Dreams, Pipedreams & Daydreams

or Growing up & Growing Old

Gotta love the lyrics on the Allman Bros’ classic Dreams, off their 1st album:

 Sometimes I hunger

for the dreams

I’ll never see

Who can’t relate (FF alert!) to that? And how cool a verb is hunger?

Then there’s the powerful line In Clint Eastwood’s late-era Oscar-winning Western The Unforgiven. When explaining to the young wannabe gunslinger that killing actually is a big deal, the seasoned Eastwood says something like: “When you take a man’s life, you take away all his dreams.”

Now it strikes me that there are different types of dreams, as everyone knows and as my title here suggests. Beyond the obvious awake/unconscious dichotomy, a line can be drawn between aspirational dreams and other ones. By aspirational, I mean those that we aspire to fulfill or reach —our goals, ambitions, etc. Daydreams, meanwhile, have the rap of mere free-time fillers, while pipedreams are daydreams mistaken for aspirational ones.

I’d like to see if this breakdown holds together once we break it down, however. Aspirational dreams are clearly definitional when it comes to humans. Art, technology, organized society itself can only germinate and have germinated from dream seeds. Indeed, the root of aspirational, like inspire and expire, has to do with breathing, with life itself.

But who’s to say that those other kinds of dreams are less life-sustaining? Can a person without a rich fantasy life be said to have a rich life at all? How can we discount the power of early fantasies in the later organization of one’s life, in terms of love, work and the rest? How many inventions originally spawn in the fertile clouds of daydreams? How few, or depressingly few if you prefer, of our aspirational dreams actually come to fruition as we grow old(er)? And does that lack of eventual reality (real eventuality?) make them any less life-sustaining? I’d say not, hence the power in the lines from The Unforgiven and Dreams.

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