You can be anything you want to be, all you need is to follow your dreams.
This is one of the greatest lies ever perpetuated by society, and it’s killing us. We were the first generation of kids that were told we could be anything we wanted to be, and most dangerously, we were the first to believe it. The danger hits upon our inevitable failure at such high expectations from a life that had never before aspired to such high offices.
This notion that all one needs is a goal and a bit of hard work is commercialised by advertisers trying to sell us a dream in the form of consumption which is then regurgitated by the 1% who seek to romanticise their own achievements. The fact is there is simply no factual bases to believe a word of it.
In any field only the smallest percentage attains a level of greatness as “the best”, this is a functional requirement of them being “the best”. If everyone is “the best” then no one is “the best”. The reality is those that excel above all others will do so due to a mixture of natural ability, good fortune, and hard work. Of all these three contributors, the “hard work” is often the least ubiquitous. A few, by inexcusable chance are drafted, often only temporarily, amongst an elite whilst the masses abound with those who wanted it just as bad, and tried just as hard, but fortune never favoured. For most of us, we missed our opportunities or the doors were never even open for us in the first place. We shall die as we were born, unremarkable.
The thing is, this isn’t the tragedy you have been convinced it is. For generations, we sought only to survive, enjoy our decades in the Sun, to taste the fleeting joy of pleasure, and to experience love. Now our society, deprived of the religious convictions that had previously offered us immortality, have made immortal gods of celebrities. Everything from Bank commercials to acceptance speeches assured as that life was meaningless if not filled with arbitrary achievements. That moments need to be magical, our relationships like love stories, and days never numbed by mundane silence.
Social media polluted our peripheries until we believed that every one of our peers was embracing a higher sense of purpose, they shared quotes assuring us that they knew more about why they were here than we did. We never saw their lonely days. We never saw their fears. We only saw the days where they always seemed to be going somewhere better than they were before. All just another act in the charade.
This was not the task we have been set though. We are roughly 7 billion souls clinging to a planet we know little about, all just trying our best. We don’t know why we came here, or when we will have to leave, but for the most part we want to stay as long as possible. For so long as we are here we can feel pleasure. We can hear music, we can eat delicious food, we can celebrate sex, and we can experience love. All pleasure is fleeting, except love, so it is love we seek above all other pleasures. But we work so we can survive so we can feel pleasure. This is the meaning of life.
The immortality offered by greatness is synthetic. Though a person’s story may be celebrated their consciousness falls silent with their final breath. Their life will not be truly measured by the reverence in the hearts of strangers, but by the pleasure they felt whilst they lived. This is all we have to do to live a great life, fill it with great pleasure.
We may earn no farewell montage, our names may die once those that remember us do, but our lives are capable of infinite pleasure and immeasurable love regardless of our status in the social hierarchy.
Yet whilst previous generations were burdened with the challenge to survive, to live comfortable lives, and to hopefully find love, we have convinced our children that they must dream. Not dreams of security or happiness, but of greatness. Our subsequent failure to achieve the lofty dreams thrust upon our childish selves then cripples us as adults. Did we not work hard enough for our dreams? Did we fail our dreams? Or were the dreams never meant to be believed?
Firstly, we need to remember why the dream is being sold to you. To sell you a product, to make you worship a hero, or to believe in a narrative. For how on Earth do they expect you to spend more money if you were content in your state of affairs? Most of you reading this are living in an era of comfort never before known to humanity. So how else can they get you to work for more other than convincing you that you don’t have enough. The media, both social and traditional, has ensured that your own standard for happiness will be continually raised to an unattainable level. You will spend more, you will try harder, and you will risk losing all the things that were always enough for our grandparents, because a dream convinced you that that would never be enough.
Life is an extraordinary state of existence, shaped by emotion and punctuated by sensation. It is these two factors alone that will define your life. No fame, glory, or greatness can redeem this.
So dream from your heart, dream of happiness, dream of love, but beware the dream that was sold to you, the dream you were taught to have, and the dream that promises you an immortality but instead… may end up being the thing that kills you.