The brain is a funny thing. And funny things happen when your brain goes on vacation. I consider myself bilingual (Romanian and English) and I’ve been living in Germany for more than 15 years now, but never would I have thought that the German language would end up infiltrating… my dreams!
My dreams, yes. For the first time ever, I had a dream in German while I was at home in Romania, which makes it even stranger. And that’s not all. Not only did I dream in German, but I dreamt a whole poem in Goethe’s language! It ruined my sleep, of course, because I was so in awe, I had to make sure I could remember it well enough to jot it down in the morning. I managed to, but – alas! – only the second stanza. The first stanza (up to “Die Schienen…”) is a later addition (which, needless to say, has cost me a lot more effort and a couple of visits to the online dictionary), but the rest is entirely the creation of my subconscious.
So, here it is, I hope you like it:
Auf den Schmalspurzug wartend
Es wird Nacht in den Tälern
und ich muss wieder los.
Ein letzter Blick zum Himmel:
rosarot, erstarrt –
dann der Abstieg,
und ich, alleine in der Unermesslichkeit,
auf den Schmalspurzug wartend.
Die Schienen sind alt, alt und holprig
wie die alten Steinwege der Bauern.
Hinter dem Abendnebel, der Berg,
rutscht in Abwesenheit.
Es ist spät.
Gott lässt sich nieder
auf der bettelnde Handfläche der Pinien.
What is the deal with making our dreams come true and all that bla-bla? Why do we always have to make our dreams come true? That is tremendous pressure. Why can’t they just stay dreams? They’re more soothing that way. Dreams have a therapeutic quality that simply dissolves the minute they come true. The minute dreams come true they lose their luster and somehow won’t keep you happy very long. Then you have to go to all that trouble coming up with a new dream worth dreaming and achieving. They’re magic while you’re dreaming them, because they’re full of potential. Materialization simply kills the dream. Because matter is limited.
Beware what you dream, they should say. Instead, all you hear is “you can do whatever you set your mind to”. “If you want it bad enough, you can make it work”, “don’t worry about what other people think”, etc. So… what is one supposed to do when one’s dream clashes with those of her loved ones? Should we kill the dream? Should we put it on hold? Should we go ahead anyway, regardless of the cost? What do real people do?
We’re at a crossroads. Somehow, all through adolescence, we were made to believe that anybody can be anything they want to be as long as they want it bad enough. We’ve come to believe life only makes sense if we can all be not just perfectly satisfied individuals at every stage, level, and hour of our lives, but hugely notorious too. Now we’re spouses, we’re parents, and we have to give things up in order to make other things – better, more important things – work. How do we strike the balance? In our thirties we’re already realistic enough to see that: our abilities are limited; our time is limited; our physical strength is limited; our kids also have dreams of their own. So now what? Where does the journey take us from here?
Success needs to be redefined. Are we all endowed for glory? No. Is this fame-chasing even sane? I doubt it. Because it is definitely not wise. For me, “wanting things bad enough” sounds ominously similar to “wanting things in a very very selfish way”. We should be able to make peace with ourselves and live a fulfilling life even without the “grandness”. We should admire the little people more. Someone who has given up a dream for somebody else’s sake will not be considered successful in the eyes of the world. But he or she will probably be considered successful in the eyes of God. What we see as weakness is probably generosity.
Some people’s true calling is to give up their dreams for the benefit of others. I admire these people. Making somebody else happy, that’s a legitimate dream, too. The individualistic obsession with our own dreams seems autistic by comparison.