Wednesday, June 06, 2012
The Pipe Dream
We do this terrible thing to ourselves.
We see a positive goal or outcome that would benefit ourselves and our world. We assess how big a change it would require and if it seems like a lot of work, we decide we can't do it. We shrug it off and say, "It's a pipe dream." We deflate our aspirations and make ourselves small.
The phrase "pipe dream" is said to have started as a reference to hallucinations induced by opium. Pipe dreams.
Bring recycling to your rural community? Pipe dream. Raise private money and build an arts center? Pipe dream. Take a hundred days off to do a long retreat? Pipe dream. Address the ecological emergency and work to change energy consumption? Pipe dream. Reform Jim Crow laws? Pipe dream. Ban child labor and establish an 8-hour workday? Pipe dream. End the reign of your country's military dictator? Pipe dream. Attain enlightenment and live for all beings? Pipe dream.
It is almost as if we look at every truly good impulse we have, and if it requires a lot of work, changes to our personal lives or danger, and/or asking other people for assistance, we turn our backs on it. "It can't be done," we decide. And we go back to what is familiar and comfortable, slipping back into our reverie.
That's the pipe dream.
If it needs to be done, it can be done. It is a matter of will. We are deciding not to do things. It isn't can't, it is won't. You might not know how, and you might make mistakes, but there is a way to do it.