Such Stuff as Dreams are Made On

As I get older, there are certain illusions that are being gradually stripped away from me. I have lately come to realize, for instance, that I will likely never be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on the strength of a heavy write-in vote from my friends. Furthermore, I am now willing to admit to myself that I will not be able to retire at 45 (or even 75), do not bear an uncanny resemblance to Johnny Depp, and the long silences that follow my a capella performances of “No Woman No Cry” are not a sign that my audience has been held spellbound. As a friend of mine once said, the process of maturing is very often “being big enough to be small” – having the courage to accept and embrace the fact of one’s own extraordinary version of ordinariness.

Having said this, though, I still have my “book of dreams”. It’s something I’ve been periodically revising since I was about eight years old. The physical format changes every couple of years or so, of course; it’s currently one of those green Hilroy exercise books. The dreams change, too, thank God. I no longer want be a wizard or a sumo wrestler, no longer hope to discover Atlantis. The basic idea, though, has remained pretty constant: a list of all the things I would like to achieve in my lifetime – a pure exercise of the ego.

There are usually forty or fifty different items listed. Some of the ones jotted in my current book are big dreams that will most likely never be realized: hiking through the Himalayas; running the Boston Marathon (I haven’t even been jogging for two years!); travelling by Train across India. There are fewer and fewer of these that make it to the page. Most of them now, such as learning to tango, taking my family to Venice, mastering the art of the perfect omelette, are much smaller dreams.

Still, in all likelihood, most of these will ultimately fall by the wayside. Some will change, others be forgotten, many simply left too late – the nature of waking dreams. I hope, though, that I will always have this book in one form or another. I hope, also, that at least a few of my dreams will be of the big ticket, Technicolor variety. Hey, somebody’s bound to find Atlantis one day. And it’s better to run out of life before you run out of dreams than the other way around.