Dreaming the Impossible

The season shifts slightly after harshness, high expectations and demands and a lingering sense: “Is that all there is?” Outward conditions seem much the same, but our awareness begins to shift away from that sense of constriction to dreams of life as we think it should be. For some, that image of “life as it should be” is not a mere fantasy but a thing in itself, so obvious in its elegant workability that the failure of others to see so clearly leaves the dreamer feeling alienated.

Those dreams seem so tangible and real that one feels tempted to simply turn aside from the rote necessities and compromises of the world as it is and invest wholly in the dream, to push for a radical alteration in outer conditions to make possible the vision. “All I need to do is push, and others will see.” So fixated can we become on the change we want that we might begin to withhold from ourselves or others any information that complicates or undermines the effort, which in turn renders the effort more vulnerable to problems related to this information. Think of a politician striking out a bold new campaign with a secret lingering in their history, a secret they pray is never made known. Now the secret is a land mine waiting to go off, where the politician could consciously defuse the mine and control the narrative by revealing the secret in their own way.

Our beautiful imagined city could never exist in this world because the mind is capable of imagining infinite possibilities while removing inconvenient laws of nature or emotional realities from its estimation. When we allow ourselves to be seduced by an elegant and simple vision of humanity, we have likely neglected to account for important realities that will certainly crop up and interfere with the work. Others will rebel or dissent and their disagreements might make no sense to us. Many of the most heated intellectual arguments between people become fixed and unresolvable because they do not account for the underlying emotional complexities. Two people may essentially agree on a vision but stay stuck in their conflict because parts of them are afraid of being left out or oppressed if the other person “wins.”

We need our dreams, nevertheless, and our beautiful perfect fantasies to lift us from the morass of accepting life as it is, particularly when life as it is feels unworkable, unjust, or painful. Dreaming allows us to imagine possibilities that are not immediately practical. Dreaming accesses the spark of inspiration that feeds action and sets things into motion. What is within yearns to mix with what is without. When we risk putting our dreams and inspirations into a form, to bring them into being, then we begin the alchemical process of transforming self and world.

What vision of life have you not yet dared to dream? What kind of society would you want to enact? How can we begin to share our visions and hopes in a spirit of building coalition and spinning together a communal vision of possibility?