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More on the Dream Theme: The Dream that Keeps Your Hopes Alive*

January 22, 2010

We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all that we need to make us really happy is something to be enthusiastic about.
• Charles Kingsley (1819-1875)

Yes, there is a theme this week, a dream theme that I diverged from yesterday as a personal stress management exercise that illuminated some things that make teacher/me crazy. But back to the theme. Dreams are as important to success in school as any textbook you’ll buy or any course you’ll take. If education won’t help you with your aspirations, why bother? Money? Money is certainly necessary, but past a certain point of sustaining your life on a reasonable level, it’s just more. And that kind of more is never enough.

Besides, it’s all relative. As Jeana Keough, one of Orange County’s Real Housewives said on a recent show, “I could be happy in a 5000 square foot house. I don’t need 9000.” Really? Dear girl, here in the real world where many of us live daily, most people are delighted with much less.

Why would musician Paul McCartney say he never plans to retire? How about Oprah or many other wealthy-enough-to-never-have-to-work-again folks? Why do they keep working when they could be doing nothing? Why work if you don’t have to and if you do have to, isn’t the work and your purpose for doing it even more important? Thomas Edison, the inventor we can thank for the light bulb, the phonograph, and the motion picture camera, said, “One might think that the money value of an invention constitutes its rewards to the man who loves his work, but speaking for myself, I can honestly say this is not so. . .I continue to find my greatest pleasure, and so my reward, in the work that precedes what the world calls success.”

Any kind of training or education can be just one more thing to check off on your to-do list. An article in this month’s Wired,** “Summa Cum Fraud,” by David Wolman (pp. 68-75), reports that “every year, diploma mills sell as many doctoral degrees as are awarded by real universities,” noting also that “fake diplomas are known to have existed as far back as 14th-century Europe.” While paying for a degree without having to attend a single class might sound good, it won’t help you find your purpose and passions. Neither will attending classes without being present.

What is the dream that keeps your hopes alive?

There’s no easy way out. If there were, I would have bought it. And believe me, it would be one of my favorite things!
• Oprah Winfrey

Money can extinguish intrinsic motivation, diminish performance, crush creativity, encourage unethical behavior, foster short-term thinking, and become addictive.
• Daniel H. Pink

* from “After All This Time” by Rodney Crowell

** Special note re: Wired. I love this magazine. It reminds me of how much I don’t know, reminds me of how much I don’t want to know, and fills me with fascinating information that is the brain equivalent of Styrofoam packing peanuts, filling space, but nothing I’d want to keep. I’m just hoping that it’s the kind that dissolves eventually, otherwise, I’ll be packed with useless facts about things like “Japan’s Coolest Gadgets,” like the Mugen Puchi Puchi aka Endless Pop Pop, a toy that simulates the sounds of bubblewrap popping. Gotta have it! There’s lots more that I might want if I could only read the type.

Here’s a hint for graphic designers: white type on a pale blue or yellow background is not pleasant reading for anyone nor is grey type a good idea, and just because you can create two-point type does not mean that you should use it. This hint also applies to student work. If you hand in a paper or are doing a presentation, make sure your intended audience can read it. No matter how good something looks, if the information can’t be easily accessed, the communication has failed to communicate. And while I realize that sometimes such choices are purposeful, work that needs a grade is not the place to experiment unless you’re actually in a class that requires you to do so.

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