A Person Ought 

To Have A Dream 


Richard Bishop

© Copyright 2011 by Richard Bishop      

Photo of a laarge red barn.

There once was a poor middle-aged Farmer who just knew that if he had a big barn things would be better for his family. So, he scrimped and saved over the years and did have a barn built - so big and so nice that he was proud of its appearance in the neighborhood and also proud that he had made his dream come true. But then, six months later, a big storm with lightning caused it to catch fire and burn to the ground.

Sometime after this disaster (which, by the way, was not covered by insurance), he attempted to explain to his Family what he had learned from these vagaries of life -- trying to express his feelings about the capriciousness of nature and its outcomes in life that we call “fate” or which Insurance Companies sometimes label as “an act of God.”

He said, “A Person ought to have a dream. That’s a fine thing for it gives you something good to think about even when times are hard and gives you the grit to go on. Night or day it comes to you and leaves a good taste in your mouth because you feel like you’re in control of your daily life since your dream is the solution to many of the things that are wrong. You can keep it to yourself and take it out and dust it off whenever you like and nobody can take it away from you. You can chew on it for hours constructing its final form with the most elaborate details and the smartest appearance no matter whether it’s a plan of action to change the world or something you can touch like an ordinary barn.”

But, really, in the end, a Person shouldn’t get his dream. For when that happens and it comes true, the dream that you invested so many hours in contemplating is wiped out and lost as if it never was there in the first place. And all the good things it did for you are gone; such as giving you the courage to go on and on in the face of tough times. Also, the peaceful, smiling, self-satisfied “in-charge” attitude about your daily life now has left you, because the things about your daily life that your dream was going to fix are no longer so clearly in focus because the spotlight is off. No, no, it’s better to have the dream. Not even Nature can take that away from you, like our barn was.”

As we noted, the Farmer didn’t have insurance - but even if he did, his advice would not have changed, since it’s about dreams and not about having the resources to continue on.

But, I believe that the “jury is still out” on his advice born of bitter experience.

*My apologies to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and their 1945 Movie “Our Vines Have Tender Grapes,” starring Edward G. Robinson (script by Dalton Trumbo, adapted from Frederick Hazlett Brennan). I have re-created this scene and its dialogue (in an approximate way) solely from memory.

The following (Example # 1) makes it sound, at first, like realistic advice:

I acquired a laptop computer and used it for three years with only 256 MB of “work area” memory called Random Access Memory (RAM). Often, while working, I would get a message “you are out of work area memory.” And, so the dream was born of up-grading the memory with another, larger chip. The thing that stalled me, was opening up the Computer and possibly voiding the warranty when installing the new chip. I stewed and chewed on this idea for another year until I read a magazine article on how easy it was to change a memory chip. After four years of use, I finally went to an Electronics supplier and bought a RAM memory chip of the capacity 1,024 MB or 4 times the capacity of the old one. I was able to install it in about 20 minutes. Never again have I been bothered with the message: “you are out of work area memory.”

But now-a-days, the “sale” advertisements for laptop computers brag about having 4,096 MB of work area RAM. This is 4 times the capacity that I dreamed of and “went for” or 16 times the memory I started with! These technical “upgrades,” whether or not actually needed, are cleverly marketed to make us feel dissatisfied.

Now, you really have to ask yourself: “Did attainment of the Dream really help me?” Would it have really made much difference if I had done nothing to make it come true. Compare it to your car. Would an extra 10 horsepower have some utility and could you really notice it in your everyday driving? For me, it’s now a moot issue and I really don’t have to think about this “problem” anymore because my computer is “maxed-out“ at 1,024 MB of work area RAM. There is no place available for more or larger chips. But does it end there?

No, no, it doesn’t end there! Our “Marketers” have learned to make us dissatisfied with the status quo and can cleverly cause a reoccurrence of the dream any time they want to; making it seem like an entirely new dream. And all you can say is: “Oh, oh, the dream is back -- just maybe I do need a whole new Computer,” and once again I do the “chewing it over” in my mind; that means that the dream is still there after lying dormant for a while but it really never left, fulfilling the statement: “No, no, it’s better to have the dream.”

But sometimes getting the dream (Example # 2) is highly satisfactory and gives you a good “hey, look what I accomplished” feeling of fulfillment:

Our house has three floors but only one doorbell. Most doorbells are limited by the manufacturer to a sound level of not more than 85 decibels which is probably an industry standard (apparently to protect our ears from damage). Our doorbell is located out in the stairwell on the second of the three floors. The sound level of 85 decibels, while reverberating inside the three-story stairwell like inside a giant guitar box, was still not enough to overcome traffic noises outside in the street or television noises inside the house and we constantly missed package deliveries by United Parcel and DHL trucks. They routinely left a postcard requiring you to go to their nearest Office to claim the package within 7 days. If you did not claim within the 7 days, the package was automatically sent back to the sender by their holding Office. But who needs this kind of inconvenience?

What to do? I dreamed of all sorts of ways to fix the situation. The most elaborate would have been to hard-wire all floors and install three doorbells; one each within the living areas on each floor. Very costly, and lots of plaster dust and new wallpaper, and a new 230 Volt step-down transformer to 10 Volts with larger capacity for the additional two doorbells.

I once had seen a device on a plastic shrink-wrap card in a building supply house that advertised an early version of a radio-type sending device for your doorbell; where you could carry the one portable “brick” type receiver as far away as out into the back yard. If someone rang your doorbell, and the receiver was at your side, you couldn’t miss it. But what if you were on one of the floors and the receiver had been left on another?

I dreamed of various solutions for over three years until I found a manufacturer that offered a tiny radio-type transmitter to attach to the present doorbell (which is triggered by the 10 Volt impulse when someone rings the bell) and 3 small portable receivers, each about the size of a “Handy” (or many more, if you would need them) for the different floors. All sound off with the “Cathedral Chimes” (or 7 other “tunes”), have a red light that flashes, can also be clipped to your belt or pocket, are battery operated and the 2 AA type batteries last about eighteen months with normal usage. In the end, my “stewing in my own juice” and procrastination, luckily, were rewarded with technical evolution that provided ever more innovative features. And what an elegant solution; no wiring, no dust, no mess, and no wallpaper!

We have never since missed a package delivery and are very happy with this dream-come -true. And there are no marketing “upgrades” to make us dissatisfied. In this one case the dream went “poof” and evaporated when the solution was found. I do not miss the dream or “chewing the possible solutions” over in my mind. And we have never looked back because the things in our Universe are in order now; the way they ought to be.

So which is better -- (1) having the dream; getting it and losing it again, over and over or (2) having the dream once and then “getting it” in some permanent way while watching it “disappear forever” through satisfactory fulfillment in reality?

Even if we can afford it (possibly through insurance), do we have to keep re-building the Barn? I think the key words are: “And we have never looked back because things are in order now; the way they ought to be.” Therefore, the advice: “No, no, it’s better to have the dream” becomes a moot issue, as is, because it just doesn’t go far enough.

So which way are you better off? I’d say you are better off not returning to the same old dream. This gives you a chance to dream anew -- on different things -- not being wedded to the old dreams which can be labeled, if continued without reason, a “fixation” (otherwise known as: “arrested development” of your Creativity).

What is this? You mean a person can’t or shouldn’t have a casual dream, frivolous or otherwise just for the fun of it? Well, of course you can. Sometimes these are the beginnings of the most creative and innovative things that one can experience. Picture the young Girl who always wanted to become a Registered Nurse and wound up becoming an Attorney, instead. Or the young Boy who dreamed for years of becoming a Policeman and became an Engineer, instead. Or in my own case, I dreamed of becoming an airplane Pilot (but the eyes would not have it) and instead, became a Comptroller (a kind of Financial Manager).
And if you believe that the definition of a Manager is one “who makes the difficult choices when there are not enough resources to go around,” then you’ll see that dreams also can be managed and, when seriously considered, the fruitful ones can be continued and the improbable ones can be re-worked and maybe salvaged (or discarded).

A Person ought to have a dream … but the dream ought to give birth to positive improvements in your life that make it ever more fulfilling. If it doesn’t do that, then the dream itself ought to be re-invented!

In the case of the Farmer, maybe a new barn was never really the answer to fulfilling his family’s needs. If the dream is periodically re-considered and revised (or even eventually eliminated), then the barn will not have died in vain! 

Contact Richard
(Unless you type the author's name
in the subject line of the message
we won't know where to send it.)

Richard Bishop's Biography and Story List

Book Case

Home Page

The Preservation Foundation, Inc., A Nonprofit Book Publisher