I tell people my dreams – that I hope in a decade or two, I’ll be somewhat involved in politics, improve the education system, change the way people feel about mental health and hopefully, fund economically unviable social initiatives that would give a return of investment in intangible forms.
Apart from a close-knitted circle of friends who share similar dreams, I typically get that look of sympathy from people’s faces that almost spells D-E-L-U-S-I-O-N. I am used to it by now. I no longer feel bad, neither do I feel undermined. I have come to accept that everyone operates within a different framework and I don’t have to take it so personally that they do not share mine.
Those who do, I am extremely grateful for. Have you ever liked something so ridiculous that you are convinced nobody but you appreciates it? And when one day you find just one other soul who feels the same way, even if you do not know who the hell is this person, you feel an inexplicable connection to him or her? That is how I feel when I meet people who understands my world view. They are hard to come by, and they are extremely precious to me.
I guess this is an important part of the reason why I love being in the Valley. The density of such people are arguably much higher than anywhere else in the world. This is the community of people who doesn’t bat an eyelid when they talk about launching spacecraft like the SpaceX. Compared to launching spaceships, I think my dreams are relatively minuscule.
Sometimes I question myself too. Are my dreams too lofty, too impossible, too hard to achieve? But I honestly believe, if we choose to dream, the dreams might as well be audacious, isn’t it? That is why they are called dreams. By the time reality knocks it into shape, it is probably half of that dream left, so the boundaries have to set bigger in the first place. It leaves us half of a dream that we can be happy and proud of.
My dreams are like my north-star. They are my guiding light. Each time I have to make a difficult decision, the first question I ask is, would this decision be aligned with my dreams, my purpose? When I have to make tradeoffs and sacrifices, I ask myself, are they worth it in relation to my dreams?
These dreams, they put everything into perspective. The pain of separation from my loved ones I have to endure seems bearable when I put it in relation to my dreams. Walking on such a path is extremely lonely and tiring, we get misunderstood all the time, we may seem detached and aloof from the rest of the world. That relentless pursuit can potentially hurt the people around you, there is a innate understanding that there could be a tradeoff in terms of personal happiness with the hope of longer lasting impact.
Pursuing audacious dreams – they are a gamble. There is no guarantee of returns, the percentage of a win is extremely small, there is almost no timeline to rely upon. It could take a decade, it could take a lifetime of waiting with no finishing line in sight. Sometimes we put in all that blood, tears and sweat with no visible returns, but in hope that perhaps a baton could be passed on to the next generation.
So why have audacious dreams?
Because humanity has always made giant leaps of progress with seemingly impossible dreams made by people. Because I cannot quantify or reconcile my own existence with anything less. For me, it is almost like a drug. I need to have these audacious dreams to feel alive. Without them, I am as good as dead. I cannot picture an existence whereby I go through the motions of everyday life without something to dream upon.
That is the almost sad truth, for me. I have to dream audaciously in order to keep myself alive. Because I am afraid to feel like I am living for nothing in particular. Because I am fearful to wake up with a sense of dread, that I have nothing to look forward to. Because I am paranoid of looking back at my existence and not being able to feel like I have at least tried to reach for the stars. I don’t want to be on my deathbed and all I can remember is going to work and knocking off work, everyday with the same clockwork routine. That scares the hell out of me.
I am writing this to remind my future self, in case one day I forget why I have these audacious dreams. That I am able to write this post and talk about my huge dreams, with that persistent light in my eyes. That desire to feel passionately alive, the immense amount of love I feel for this world, buoyed by my lofty dreams.
Perhaps one day, my little gamble could pay off. But if it doesn’t, I must have at least tried to roll the dice. There is nothing worse than being plagued by a lifetime of what-could-have-been-s.