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Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Functionality of Impossible Dreams

Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.

Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20-21 NIV).

An essential ingredient of impossible dreams is that we deny their impossibility. Thus, driven by the unattainable we achieve the attainable. An important distinction to make is between significance and scope. That is, each individual act in a real sense actualizes the ultimate dream since it provides immediate psychological reinforcement through participation in the meaning of the dream. For example, my intent is to get to a vacation cabin in the Great Smoky Mountains. This is many miles from my house, but my act of leaving the garage is pleasurable since it is a necessary constituent of my dream vacation. The journey (often bringing the family together) matters as much or more to my mental pleasure receptors than the moment I actually turn in the driveway to the cabin. My journey, though it will take many hours, is pleasurable because all the while it is massaging and actualizing my dream now – not just some future time.

In fact it is almost a given that our dreams which accentuate the positive are more pleasurable than their attainment – which always also entails the negative. This powerful phenomenon is so basic to every aspect of life that its application is well-nigh universal. Surely it has played a fundamental role in the survival of our species.

We do well to elaborate the implications of our dreams in their immediacy and not just in some gauzy future. The hollow attainment of success has become a cultural archetype – as in the man who desires to provide abundance for his family and is always at work and never at home to intimately nurture his children during irreplaceable years. The first step to getting our priorities straight is to ask how remote dreams play out in the present so that we do not end up with tragic, Pyrrhic victories. Do our ends ring eternally true when put to the test daily in the temporal world? The ultimate test of any far off dream is its impact when embedded beneath the skin.

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