Thoughts and other trivia...

Thursday, March 02, 2006

"What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?

Or fester like a sore--
and then run?

Does it stink like rotten meat
sugar and crust over--
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load

Or does a dream explode?"

-Langston Hughes, "Dream Deferred"

Even if I hadn’t been able to relate to it, I think I would’ve still liked this poem just as much. Because it is something even I’ve frequently wondered about: What happens to an unrealised dream? Does it fizzle out and die? Or, does it fester inside, slowly eating away at you?

I’ve always admired people who have a dream, a passion, that they spend their entire lives chasing. And, yet, sometimes, I think it’s a curse to have a dream or to be passionate about something. Because having a dream means being completely consumed by it, plotting your moves all the time, planning how to get there and achieve what is so important to you. As long as you can keep at it, life moves on fine. However, when you’re forced to abandon this pursuit, for whatever reasons, the dream starts to look like a curse. Because I don’t know if there’s anything more frustrating than knowing what you really want to do but not being able to work towards it. It’s no good if you have a dream but don’t get the opportunity to pursue it. To fail is okay, in my book at least, as long as you’ve had your chance and have given it your best.

If you have a dream, I believe, you should also have the wherewithal to pursue it. I’m not trying to suggest that your dream should be served to you on a platter but that, at least, you should be allowed the opportunity to chase it. Those who share my dream will tell you that, even at the best of times, it’s like chasing that proverbial pot of gold. And, as luck would have it, my circumstances are far from ‘best’.

As I sit here, cribbing about how my dream, the one thing I most want to do in my life, is getting away from me, yet another dream, albeit a long forgotten one, is coming true.

As a child, long before I even knew what a dream or an ambition was, long before I knew that dreams and ambitions don’t always work out because there is more to this game than just ability, I wanted to write a book about cricket. I had no clue about what writing a book really entailed. I knew even less about this concept called copyright. As a result, in this great flush of childish enthusiasm, I would collect information from all the sources that were known, and available, to me – newspapers, books, magazines and radio commentary on the BBC and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. It also helped that I was really good at cricket myself, having played for my state side at the junior level. My ‘book’ was meant to be, in my mind at least, the most comprehensive guide to EVERYTHING that ANYONE has EVER wanted to know about cricket. It was meant to be the last word on cricket information, even better than Wisden (for the uninitiated, that’s the Bible for cricket, or so the Brits claim!) And then, life happened. I grew up and my other childhood dream, that of making films, took over completely. Neither did I pursue cricket, as I had wanted to, nor did I ever think about writing the book again. While the former has always been a sore point with me, and shall continue being so, not being able to write the book was never such a big deal. Because, after growing up, I found out what it really means to write a book and, besides, I didn’t think it was either up my alley or even what I wanted to accomplish. But, absolutely out of the blue, this opportunity dropped itself into my lap. And, although I can scarcely believe it myself, my book on cricket will be out by the end of the month!

I’m sitting here right now, with the proofs of the book in front of me, staring in disbelief at this thing, which will soon be my book on cricket! And I feel thrilled about it, as do my friends for me. But, at the same time, I cannot help but wonder, and I’m not trying to act smart about this: Do we choose our dreams or do they choose us? Does this mean that if you stop chasing it, the dream works out for you? Or, does it simply mean that you don’t get what you truly want it in life? That, if you want something badly enough, the wretched universe conspires to take it away from you?


Blogger deepahnika said...

or that something/someone decided to cheer u up for a while :) ..

3:39 pm  
Blogger Patient Portnoy said...

I don't know u, but I think I know ur dreams. I have one big one, no two, and keep trying not to remind myself, cos with time they seem to be getting away from me...
Congrats on the cricket book. U should tell us more. What's it called? So it came true. No matter what u say, u lucky u :-)

4:53 pm  
Blogger km said...

Terrific post, GoTJ (man, get a shorter handle already!) The questions at the end of your post deserve some serious thinking (and blogging!)

Good luck with the book's release - keep us posted, will ya?

9:23 pm  
Blogger Shivangi said...

I'll tell you whats worse. Having the ability and the drive to achieve your goals, but not knowing what is it that you truly want or what might be the way to get there...
And yes, a lot of times you stop 'dreaming' because you feel its unreal given your own set of circumstances. And you will notice that almost always the dreams that choose you, are the ones you chose to ignore... such is life!

9:28 pm  
Blogger Jyothi Kapur Das said...

Not Bad!!! So, what's the moral, here? Switch to another dream, and maybe, just maybe, a film will fall in your lap!! Heh heh... That would be nice, na..? :)best..

8:30 am  
Blogger Blue Athena said...

I am sooo happy for you! :))

12:52 pm  
Blogger aria said...

Congrats @ the cricket book ..
Dreams make such an interesting topic - they seem so real when you see them while asleep .. but the moment you get up they elude you.. At times you even wish the reality was a bad dream! Anyways.. pursuing them is fine but clinging to them might be dangerous. However, if you are accomplishing them .. nothing like it ..
all the best :)

1:13 pm  
Blogger rapunzel said...

do we choose our dreams or do they choose us?hmmmmm....thats a nice way of putting it. i like to think that it's 50-50. we're wired to be the way we are and the things we like and want to do...i believe that nobody else in all of life, in all of our generation, in all of creation is capable of doing that ONE thing that you are capable of doing the way you would do it. so do the dreams choose us or do we choose them?i never dreamt of becoming a model simply cos i always knew it wasnt in me, but i did know that i wanted to write since i read my first book. why didnt the model dream choose me?why did the writer dream choose me? cos i am me! now what exactly does that mean?that i choose my dream or that my dream chooses me??:)

3:19 pm  
Blogger GhostOfTomJoad said...

deepahnika: Well, I don't mind being humoured at all :-)

patient portnoy: Thanks. Shall post details about the book in about three weeks. It's really tricky with dreams, isn't it? I REALLY hope both yours work out for you.

km: Thanks. GoTJ is short enough, isn't it? :-)

shivangi: In that case, when the dream chooses us, is it okay to continue calling it "our/my dream"?

jyothi kapur das: That would be terrific! :-)

blue athena: Thanks a ton! :-)

aria: Some people will tell you that clinging to your dream, no matter what, is perhaps the only way to achieve it.

rapunzel: That depends on how badly you wanted to be a model and how happy you are being a writer. Like I said earlier, if we are going to be chosen by our dreams, is it fair to refer to them as our dreams? I'm not so sure

6:26 pm  
Blogger M (tread softly upon) said...

First congrats...must be exhilarating to have something that you wanted to do finally happen.
As far as chasing dreams, just loved that line of yours: "Do we choose our dreams or do they choose us". I don't know. We try to chase our dreams but only the ones that want to be chosen happen. Very nice post.

11:09 pm  
Blogger Arthur Quiller Couch said...

Well done, Mr. Fonda. Congratulations.
Perhaps we'll also get to see a better film on cricket than "Iqbal"?

But dreams don't just happen. Bet you slogged your ass off on that book. That's when your dreams choose you, you know.

11:55 pm  
Blogger Shivangi said...

Well, do you have a choice? :)

12:00 am  
Blogger Inkblot said...

And why that last line when you have your book after all? Your one of the lucky few doing at least one of the things you dreamt of (films?)so why confound the rest of us with all your theories, when we're all banging our heads against the wall wondering...sorry,just venting!

Lovely post. Do a few more like this one,please. And congratulations on the book too.

5:59 am  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

Congratulations on the book!

I have to say, AQC gets it totally right with:

"But dreams don't just happen. Bet you slogged your ass off on that book. That's when your dreams choose you, you know."

That's pretty much what social-psychological research in this area has to say. "Goals" function as useful motivational devices when they are attainable as set (as opposed to "fantasies", which actually detract from performance), and get achieved when effort gets put into the striving. The amount of effort is usually a function of the "expectancy".

Sorry to get all technical. Maybe I should blog about this myself. Very nice post anyway (I found it tx to km).

8:45 am  
Blogger Prerona said...

i dont know. I really dont know. It seems so worthwhile when I u have one proper dream you are dedicated to and always work towards. it seems a bit wastrel-ish when you have a whole load of dreams like loose change in ur pocket that u pursue at random and as ur fancy dictates. a bit like love

2:52 pm  
Blogger Ash said...

No advice from me buddy. You dont need a genius to figure me out. All I have is my dream and basically it amounts to zilch. Maybe someday I will get there. So heres to us and a million are not alone.
And a hug for fulfilling the little boy's almost forgotten dream. :)
Hope you get it all...

6:04 pm  
Blogger GhostOfTomJoad said...

m (tread softly upon): Thanks. Exhilarated? I don't know but it is quite exciting...and funny :-) The odd thing is that, in this case at least, the dream came true when it's no longer my dream :-)

arthur quiller couch: Oh, lookee who's back! :-) Thanks, dude. Actually, I didn’t have to slog for the book. Really! A small-time publisher asked me to write one and I did...which is what is so galling and funny, at the same time. That the one thing you want so badly, and which you work your backside off for, when you get the rare opportunity, doesn’t work out. But, what you’ve long since forgotten, just drops into your lap!

shivangi: I don’t think I ever have a choice :-)

inkblot: Thanks, pal. Vent all you like, no sweat! Maybe I didn’t explain myself well enough...I would like to be pursuing my film but, owing to various factors, I’m not quite being able to. So, I don’t know which is worse: to not know what you really want to do or to know what you want to do but not being able to...

tabula rasa: Don’t worry, technical is good :-) But, seriously, I completely agree with you about knowing the difference between fantasising and setting practical goals. I have done a fair bit of evaluation of that but, in my case, the problem is of certain circumstances that I cannot change. Or, let me put it this way, I can become selfish and go after what I want so badly but, then, that won’t be me.

prerona: Well said…and I have just one work-related dream. This just happened :-)

ashley: Thanks :-) I don’t know which dream you’re referring to... the personal one or a work-related one but, either way, circumstances permitting, just go for it. Failing is okay, it’s the not trying (for whatever reason) that can get to you

1:24 pm  
Blogger Arthur Quiller Couch said...

Forgot to ask. Where can one get the book?

1:27 pm  
Blogger rapunzel said...

ghost-i said we choose our dreams.guess u lost the idea in all that verbosity and banter.just like you didnt realise that i was agreein with you in my comments section :)

note:why didnt the model dream choose me?why did the writer dream choose me? cos i am me!

so, cos i am me, i choose dreams that are more me-like.

talking of langston hughes, i remb this beatiful poem i read.its called suicide note. read it??

"Suicide Note:

The calm, cool/face of the river/asked me for a kiss."

as simple as that....awesome, no?

3:10 pm  
Blogger deepahnika said...

dats twice that you hv complimented the story ..n i thank you, thank u a lot :). had literally forgotten my blog existed, its been so long since its been updated..but i guess i'l write sumthin now..all this attention's gettin to me :D !! loads of congratulations on the book n yes, my question too..where can i get it ? ...and while i was here, had this feelin that maybe we r puttin in too much of a resposibilty on our dreams.. a dream for me ,is what cheers me up wen i am low, its what tells me that life is worth living for, that i may not hv my today, but i may hv my tommorow, and that my tomorrow cud be my dream-come-true if i started work on it today..n i get up from being low to being level .. i agree in the statement "In dreams begin responsibilities.." but the dream in itself doesnt have a responsibilty to come true. if we expect all our dreams to come true, arent we just puttin in a lot to them ? its more like they give u a purpose/cheer in life, something that moves u ahead but expecting them to come true is when is when grief takes over ..

1:29 pm  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...


When you say, "Or, let me put it this way, I can become selfish and go after what I want so badly but, then, that won’t be me" my technical [:-)] response is research has shown that when goals are in conflict, sufficient progress towards one goal allows people the "license" to coast on that one and turn their striving to the other one (which may have been on hold till that point). Moral, those who stick to it may yet get to eat their cake too ;-)

3:10 pm  
Blogger opinionatedinjerzee said...

congrats on the book!

8:16 pm  
Blogger GhostOfTomJoad said...

arthur quiller couch: It's not out yet. In all likelihood, it'll be published at the end of the month, and I will put a little note about it on the blog. What I can tell you at the moment, however, is the name of the publisher - Goodwill Publishing.

rapunzel: I know it's a little difficult to believe this about me but I do understand what is being said. Only sometimes though :-) But seriously, I was only debating the argument you had put forth, here and on your own blog, and not necessarily because I thought it was your own point of view.

Yes, Suicide Note is nice... :-)

deepahnika: Yes, I think you need to start writing again and satisfy the loud clamouring for your blog :-)

Well, to each his/her own. Your dreams are based on what you want from life, where you want to be, what you want to do and on what makes you truly happy. Can't talk about others but I don't expect anything from my dream, not even that it should come true. All I really want is that I should have the opportunity to pursue it. I couldn't care less about the result, although it would be nice to get there but even failure is okay with long as I get to try!

tabula rasa: Think I'm going to preserve your "technical" response and read it on a bad day...I'm sure it'll help me feel better :-)

opinionatedinjerzee: Oh, I see you've gone and changed your name again...

Sorry, when I saw that you've changed your blog's name, just couldn't resist those lines from a Cohen song :-) Thanks a ton!

1:37 pm  
Blogger the-think said...

AH! This poem! The first time I read it was at the entrance test to my degree course...ages ago :)
Beautiful, but quite a bit on the young mind then!

4:23 pm  
Blogger Cocaine Jesus said...

congrats oh ghostly one!

5:24 pm  
Blogger Φ said...

congrats..keep chasing em. Thnx a ton for dropping by..


7:05 pm  
Blogger GhostOfTomJoad said...

the-think: So, I take it that you like the poem :-)

cocaine jesus: Thank you stoned Lord :-)

Φ: Thanks :-)

10:33 pm  
Blogger A fool on the hill said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:35 pm  
Blogger A fool on the hill said...

The "About Me" statement in your blog is humbling -- Don't often succeed...but, I try...

Now you have succeeded. And best of luck for the book. May it fly off the shelves.

10:38 pm  
Blogger GhostOfTomJoad said...

a fool on the hill: You're a Beatles fan, aren't you? Me too...sometimes :-) Thanks a lot, really appreciate it!

10:54 pm  
Blogger ~River~ said...

I was very surprised to see this poem on your blog the other day. I'd taught it to a class of students under the rubric of Race only last week. (Btw, I think the name of the poem is not "Dream Deferred", but "Harlem: A Dream Deferred")

I'm glad that your dream is finally coming true. :)

6:27 pm  
Blogger GhostOfTomJoad said...

~River~: You're absolutely right. It is "Harlem: A Dream Deferred". Thanks! :-)

10:59 pm  

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