Monday, 25 January 2010

Living the dream

The allure of the "dream" purchase or the "dream" lifestyle is still very potent. We all like to think that just round the corner is something so perfect, so tailor-made to our personal wishes, that we'll be happy ever after.

Doesn't quite work out like that though, does it? After the first flush of excitement, of starry-eyed euphoria, sooner or later reality takes over and we find that the apparent dream job, dream car, dream partner or dream house has its less than perfect side, those irritating or inconvenient things that come with the package and just have to be accommodated.

But however many dreams fall short of our hopes, we still keep chasing after them, quite certain that next time our desires will be met and everything will fall into place.

I suppose my earliest experience of such disappointment was being a local newspaper journalist. I fondly assumed I would be covering dramatic, life-changing stories, but my actual daily fare was golden weddings, church fetes, excruciating amateur drama and cats stuck up trees.

I thought bookselling might be my dream job until I realised abusive customers, low salaries, penniless "browsers" and talentless books were all part of the deal. But I spent many happy years selling books despite the less glamorous reality.

And does any dream partner ever turn out to be perfect? I doubt it. The fact is that even the most attractive, charming, intelligent, practical individual will eventually display plenty of embarrassing and infuriating weaknesses. You soon realise that you have to love someone for what they are, not what you want them to be.

As for dream houses, I've lived in enough different homes to know they all have their failings, however stunning they seem at first glance. The estate agent's glossy brochures, like fresh paint and plaster, can hide as much as they reveal.

But the idea of a "dream" opportunity still casts its spell over us, despite all our experience and common sense. You can't open a magazine or switch on the telly without seeing blissfully happy people with effortless, silky-smooth lifestyles. Surely we could have that too, it's out there somewhere, we just have to find it. And pigs will fly.

28 comments:

e said...

I think the western nations have a lot to answer for promoting such swill...

There is no one standard of perfection and everyone's dreams are all a bit different.

I do believe in opportunities and working to create a life and planet that is sustainable and sane, but we don't discuss those things, instead focusing on some false dream that for many is unattainable, and for others, not the holy grail they were seeking.

Shutting telly off or not having one helps. Life isn't about stuff, but capitalism certainly is...

Pigs are flying round here. Can you tell?

Nick said...

e - Working to create a life and planet that is sustainable and sane is an excellent objective. If only we could all concentrate on that instead of illusory capitalist dreams. But big business obviously finds that peddling dreams gets results.

Leah said...

Boy, spend a second in my neighborhood. The people who live here (a lot of rich investment bankers etc. among others) have truly bought into the idea. Sometimes when I'm talking to the parents of Hedgehog's classmates, I feel like I've entered a gilded cage and I'm the only one who realizes it...it is truly shocking, the amount of money that gets spent on Italian bathroom tile and designer children's clothing...Sarge and I just try to keep it real as best we can.

Kate said...

No flying pigs around here my friend - a hippy I might be but I'm a realist as well! I think you have to make the reality the dream!!!

Nick said...

Leah - "Dream" and "designer" are pretty synonymous, aren't they? Ordinary, non-designer stuff can't possibly be a dream anything. Good for you refusing all the pretentious nonsense. So do the neighbours see you as the non-aspiring weirdos?

Kate - No flying pigs? Glad to hear it. Making the reality the dream is what's needed, but it's not easy.

Leah said...

Nick, the one good thing is that E's school is in part very arts-oriented, so people have to at least pretend that they're somewhat bohemian, or at least Bohemian Sympathetic...but yes, I do think they think we're a bit, er, unusual. Surprisingly, it doesn't even help that my family has been in this nabe for half a century--in fact, that makes us oddly even weirder, in the eyes of the nouveau riche-ers. Luckily we've found some wonderful friends who are like-minded.

You know, you're so right about having it "all" not making people happy--I see this first-hand all the time. It's sort of sad, really...

Nick said...

Leah - It doesn't surprise me at all that the NRs think you're weird even though you're old-established locals. I suspect they don't really care a damn about the neighbourhood, they're only there because it's a desirable location with desirable property. That's what we found when we lived in a trendy London neighbourhood.

Wisewebwoman said...

The thing is that life does go by when one is aspiring to an unattainable dream. Life is missed, I should say.
I measure my wealth by the things I have for which I would not take money.
I am a very wealthy woman.
XO
WWW

Grannymar said...

I stopped chasing rainbows a very, very long time ago. You have to be happy in your skin to do it.

Baino said...

I must be the black sheep here. I'm chasing the dream to be worry free when it comes to finance. Seem to be treading water at the moment while that which eludes me dangles like an unattainable carrot. I don't want 'things' just experiences . . .so chase the dream I shall!

Nick said...

www - Indeed, one's real inner wealth has nothing to do with material possessions. Running after dreams won't make any difference to it.

Grannymar - Being happy in our own skin is the important thing.

Nick said...

Baino - Wanting to be free of financial worries is a very laudable dream. I hope that dream at least will come true for you!

Quickroute said...

I dream of financial security but it has so far eluded me and the reality has become more of a nightmare

Nick said...

Quicky - Financial security is very hard to achieve, unless you're already extremely wealthy. The ever-rising cost of living just seems to mop up all the spare cash.

Scarlet Blue said...

I have my fantasy life on the blogs. Well, what's a big ginger man like me supposed to do?
Sx

Nick said...

Scarlet - Well, who knows your true identity? You can't be Marilyn, that's for sure. You might be a tattoo-covered lorry driver....

Suburbia said...

So many people duped by it though.

Martin H. said...

We really do live in an age of insistence, rather than aspiration, don't we?

Nick said...

Suburbia - An alarmingly large number. Those swish environments that pervade the lifestyle columns can be very enticing.

Martin H - A good way of putting it. So many people now think they have an automatic right to just about everything.

kylie said...

i keep reading this but still dont know what i want to say..........

Nick said...

Kylie - I'm a bit confused about the subject myself. Does a part of me believe in the "dream" opportunity? Or am I far too realistic and level-headed?

Have you ever believed in a dream opportunity yourself?

tattytiara said...

Well, there is one dream purchase that never disappoints me, and that's travel. Even to a small bit of nothing in the middle of nowhere town, I'm always left wanting more, but I think that more proves your point than anything else. Life is about experiencing, not having.

kylie said...

i have only one dream: to be with a man who really loves me.

i sometimes wonder, if it did happen would i recognise and appreciate it

as for material dreams i have mine for the moment. i want to be secure enough to have what we neede and some of the things i want, secure enough to not have to worry about money constantly.
i havent had much work over the past month and i'm remembering how shaky that security might be but for now it's all good. i dont need designer bathrooms or fancy boats....

Los Angelista said...

Too often it seems that as people age their so-called dreams get replaced with bitterness and regret. I think it's because the dreams were never truly dreams. They were simply covetousness and greed wrapped up in a bow.

Nick said...

Tattytiara - That's the right attitude, just travelling because you enjoy travel, not because you think this is going to be THE experience of a lifetime.

Kylie - Well, that's a fair enough dream, I guess, it has a chance of actually happening. I hope it does! Financial security does give peace of mind, though it's hard to arrange, there are so many demands on our cash.

Liz - I think that's true, so many of our failed "dreams" were about things we never really needed anyway. We only wanted them because everyone else did.

EmmaK said...

Well said...I suppose my dream is being a writer but it is very hard work...still will keep hammering on. Like Scarlet Blue I try to live as much as I can in a fantasy world.

Rummuser said...

There is a truism about life that has proved itself time and again for me. It is that successful people are happy and happy people are successful. It is a reinforcing loop. To be happy, one has to learn to like or accept what one attracts to one's life.

I do not know about pigs flying, but if you go to my blog, there are some other things that they can do that are unique in their trouble making ability.

Nick said...

Emma - You try to live in a fantasy world? I'd noticed! Certainly too much real-life can be pretty disheartening at times....

Ramana - If by successful you mean making something positive out of your life, then yes, the two probably go together. But people who're successful in the sense of worldly achievement and material gain aren't necessarily happy. In fact they sometimes end up totally miserable.