What dreams wouldn’t we dream if we knew we wouldn’t fail?

Saw this writing shared on my buddy Hengy’s facebook notes. A nice piece of writing – not surprisingly from Paulo Coelho, who in my mind is not just a writer of novels but a philosopher of life as well. Let me share it here for those who follow this blog. 😛

“We must never stop dreaming. Dreams provide nourishment for the soul, just as a meal does for the body. Many times in our lives we see our dreams shattered and our desires frustrated, but we have to continue dreaming. If we don’t, our soul dies and Love cannot reach it.

The good fight is the one we fight because our heart asks it of us. The good fight is the one fought in the name of our dreams. When we’re young and our dreams first explode inside us with all of their force, we are very courageous, but we haven’t yet learned how to fight. With great effort we learned how to fight, but by then we no longer have the courage to go into combat. So we turn against ourselves and do battle within. We become our own worst enemy. We say that our dreams were childish, or too difficult to realize, or the result of our not having known enough about life. We kill our dreams because we are afraid to fight the good fight.

The first symptom of the process of our killing our dreams is the lack of time. The busiest people always have time to do everything. Those who do nothing are always tired and pay no attention to the little amount of work they are required to do. They complain constantly that the day is too short. The truth is, they are afraid to fight the good fight.

The second symptom of the death of our dreams lies in our certainties. Because we don’t want to see life as a grand adventure, we begin to think of ourselves as wise and fair and correct in asking so little of life. We look beyond the walls of our day-to-day existence, and we hear the sound of lances breaking, we smell the dust and the sweat, and we see the great defeats and the fire in the eyes of the warriors. But we never see the delight, the immense delight in the hearts of those engaged in the battle. For them, neither victory nor defeat is important; what’s important is only that they are fighting the good fight.

And, finally, the third symptom of the passing of our dreams is peace. Life becomes a Sunday afternoon; we ask for nothing grand, and we cease to demand anything more than we are willing to give. In that state, we think of ourselves as mature; we put aside the fantasies of youth, and we seek personal and professional achievement. We are surprised when people our age say that they still want this or that out of life. But really, deep in our hearts, we know that what has happened is that we have renounced the battle for our dreams – we refused to fight the good fight.

When we renounced our dreams and find peace, we go through a short period of tranquility. But the dead dreams begin to rot within us and to infect our entire being. We become cruel to those around us, and then we begin to direct this cruelty against ourselves. That’s when illness and psychoses arise. What we sought to avoid in combat – disappointment and defeat – came upon us because of our cowardice. And one day, the dead, spoiled dreams make it difficult to breathe, and we actually seek death. It’s death that frees us from our certainties, from our work, and from that terrible peace of our Sunday afternoons.

The only way we can rescue our dreams is to stop being cruel to ourselves.”

–adapted from Paulo Coelho, The Pilgrimage

To me when I started the first boardgame meetup years back, I’ve envisaged the vision of “New OTK” of today. It’s been a long road… glad we’ve arrived in some forms and some parts. There’s still a longer road in front I’m sure… but when you are living your dream, the hardship matters less.

Coelho’s writing reminded me of a quote I always held close to my heart. A quote that never fails to lift me whenever I felt the road in front is hard to continue… when turning the other way or simply stopping was so much more easier. We may fall. We may stumble. But cold and timid, we will never be. 🙂

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

~ Theodore Roosevelt

One thought on “What dreams wouldn’t we dream if we knew we wouldn’t fail?

Add yours

  1. Nice quote from President Teddy there.

    I just read the Pilgrimage last weekend and I was struck by how familiar the description of giving up seems to be. I had passed through this phase and it seem to describe a family member's current predicament quite well.

    It's the New Caprica phase that Saul Tigh and Starbuck went through that Adama called “poisonous”. It is indeed poisonous and it eats up not only yourself but the people around you as well.


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