28 July 2008

Dreams and the dreams of dreams

'What is your dream?' is one of those odd questions you'll undoubtedly get asked by an English learner if you are in Japan for any amount of time teaching English. I don't spend a lot of time thinking about my dreams, but after finally watching this Randy Pausch lecture, the one by the guy who is dying and was viral for several months last year, I've been thinking about dreams I've had throughout the years. You have probably already seen the video, but if you haven't, it's everywhere online.

When I was a child, I wanted to be an archeologist. This was, I suspect, heavily influenced by Indiana Jones, but even when I talked about, I was quick to tell people that I understood archaeologists spent most of their time in the library and that was fine by me. It's what I wanted, I said. I suppose what I really wanted was to be intelligent, or at least perceived as intelligent.

I also wanted to be a writer. When I went to college, I had three very clear objectives. I wanted to be in the college literary journal, Catch. I wanted my own office in the library. And I wanted to graduate Magna cum Laude.

And when I came to Japan or in the first couple of years of coming to Japan, I dreamed of learning Japanese and working at a university.

Now, I suppose I really only want to publish a book on a respectable press. I suppose I want to publish two books: one of fiction and one of nonfiction.

For what it's worth, I don't think dreams are especially useful and would rather just spend my life saying yes to whatever comes my way. Stephen Colbert said that at a commencement at Knox a couple of years ago. You need to say yes as often and as much as you can. And I think Randy Pausch probably agreed.