I once had a powerful mental image of people taking their dreams, represented as newborn babies, to an altar to be burned. It was horrific and it stuck with me.
Dreams, goals, desires, a sense of purpose and what makes you come alive; these are akin to new life. When you have a notion of something you are inspired to do or create it’s like being pregnant. I’ve written before about this analogy. When you’re pregnant with an idea, you know its birth is inevitable but it still requires you to do things to tend to its growth and development, and finally the birth itself. When an idea comes to fruition something truly new is introduced to the universe. New life emerges. Something that previously existed only as potentiality is now reality and has changed the sum total of opportunity in existence.
Just like in my mental image, it’s too easy to ritualistically slay our own dreams. Whether the fetus is aborted before it’s ever born or the newborn dream is destroyed shortly after, it has the same soul-deadening effect and is equally tragic. We come to believe that our dreams are fun playthings, but really a lot of work and mess to take care of, raise, nurture, and watch grow. They might be more than we’re ready for. Keeping them is really rather irresponsible. Who are we to think we can handle these inconvenient things or really tend to a new life? When we mature, get serious, “grow up”, we realize the silliness of the idea that we could ever birth, raise, and unleash our dreams onto the world. We have to get real and purge ourselves of all but their memory.
Best not to let them fertilize at all. Best to prevent the growth of the tiniest seed. Don’t let it come to term. If it does, put an end to it quickly, mercifully.
Perhaps this mental image is in bad taste. In fact, I know it is. I did not consciously construct it. It came to me when I was a teenager and it brought me to tears. It terrified me. But in that moment I realized how real and important it was. Just as grisly and awful as the notion of children being sacrificed is the voluntary destruction of dreams.
Don’t give it over. Don’t laugh at your young idealistic self and boast of growing out of it. Don’t join the gruesome collective ritual of dream sacrifice. It is a life, and when a life is lost it is tragic.