A colleague recently told me he was “Living the Dream.” He has worked in his field for thirty-nine years and has no intentions of retiring. Living the dream, he said, has meant doing his job. He went on to tell me that he has absolutely no idea what he will do if he is forced to retire. I’m genuinely happy for him.
But, for me, living the dream has other meanings. When I lie down to take a nap with my two-year-old grandson, just before he dozes off, he is staring into my eyes. The holy soul moment is living the dream. After forty-two years of marriage, my wife still tells me multiple times every day that she loves me. Continuing to fall deeper in love, for me, is living the dream. When my two adult children call me and want to just hang out for the day, I feel like I am living the dream. Walking across Ireland is living the dream. Writing is living the dream.
Don’t get me wrong. I really enjoy my work. Truthfully, I feel a calling to my job. If there is such a thing as a vocation, I humbly think I have one. Still, my job has little to do with me living my dream. You might be screaming at me right now, “Well get a job that is your dream!” Okay, well, let’s all calm down and breathe. I am not about to say that a job cannot be the means of your dream life. For my colleague, truly, his job is the source of him being able to live out his dream.
A dream, though, is something that draws out our greatest imagination and lifts our spirits into a new level of creativity, a feeling of rapture, a state of bliss, a moment of nirvana. Dreams allow us to move into a world that integrates the world of consciousness (a job) and the unconscious (the dream). A dream pushes the reality of a job as the source of my identity into the realm of being able to imagine my self as living out who I am becoming, in any circumstance. When I say I can’t image what I would do if I didn’t have my job, then my identity is attached to my function in the job. Whether or not I have my dream job or not, has nothing to do with who I am. I am Gil. I am my Self. My identity is not intertwined my job. I am differentiated from my occupation, even from my vocation. Jobs are temporal. Loves, passion, imagination, joy, bliss, creativity, these un-measureable experiences of the human condition, are the moments of living in the dream. I trust for my colleague, his job is his love, passion, imagination, joy, bliss, and creativity—all good—until he is forced to retire. Then what?
How about living into your imagination? Live in the moment. Love the work. Live the dream. Keep the possibilities of tomorrow wide open. Keep living into the imagination—for tomorrow may bring a new learning, a new way of loving, a new experience, a new dream to be lived. Being open to what may come can inspire the now. Carl Jung wrote in The Red Book, “You can attain the knowledge of the heart by living your life to the full. You live your life fully if you also live what you have never lived…” (133) To live the dream is to live this day fully while craving the unknown possibility of tomorrow.