Those impossible dreams

by Jose Ma. Montelibano

| Photo via Flickr/Creative Commons by Sam Craig

An acquaintance passed away several days ago. He was an accomplished person, professor, mentor, conceptualizer, experimenter, and social entrepreneur guru. And he was an artist but a brave innovator as well. I knew of him because we just had too many mutual friends and met him no more than once. While he was a strong academic personality with decades of leadership roles in the Asian Institute of Management, and I could not find strong affinity with the academic from my early teenage years, we were involved in either identical or similar endeavors.

I am not here to give a full-fledged tribute to Ed Morato or Edmo to many. I did not know him intimately enough to do so. But Edmo is not just a person who devoted his life to fields and causes close to my heart, but one who represents a kind of spirit that is more intimate to me. From that perspective, I can speak of him and the spirit that bonds us without our intention or permission.

When Edmo passed away, a classmate of mine posted several Viber groups of the grief he experienced and shared glowing tributes to the deceased. In gist, Edmo was being credited with pursuing his dreams relentlessly, even the impossible ones. Inevitably, as in many Viber groups composed of classmates from decades ago, some amount of ribbing happens. There are contrarian spirits in most groups; they stand out because they stand against, reasonably or ridiculously. But they are there to test the waters, so to speak, to see how upset they can get you to be without being obnoxious (in our 70s, it is not easy to insist on being unsavory) oftentimes elicit creative thinking.

“I would wonder if it was worth it to pass up the comfort or luxuries for the pursuit of their impossible dreams.”

Anyway, Mr. Contrarian said to the tribute giver of Edmo that it might have been better if Edmo pursued the attainable more than the impossible dreams. That kind of comment is not new; in fact, it is the most common. But when it is made in the context of a man like Edmo just having passed away, and when I recognize the good and great things he had done for others for most of his life, it can get one into thinking. I often did. I would wonder if it was worth it to pass up the comfort or luxuries for the pursuit of their impossible dreams.

I admit that the question is meaningful to me, mainly because I sometimes pursue what many would call impossible dreams. My question is not why I did, but why they call it impossible. I never thought of myself dedicating my efforts to impossible dreams. In my understanding, they were never impossible. In my mind, they were all so possible, so potentially doable. Yet, I was clear in accepting that I would not live long enough to see the blossoming of most of those dreams. It seems natural to me that great dreams bear great fruits for generations. You and I enjoy many of their fruits today.

It is not as though I do not know how to distinguish between dreams and fantasies. I do allow myself to drift to a world of imagination, and beyond, to fantasies. When I was a child, I fantasized. I believed in Santa Claus. When I was old enough to realize that it was a fairy tale, I did not feel devastated. I had enjoyed years of believing in Santa Claus and other fairy tale personalities, even unicorns, and dragons, and assumed that other children would do so as well. From the storytelling of myths and legends to the business of selling books anchored on fantasies, there are so many who enjoy them.

“In fact, we create gods and demigods and superheroes without great effort, as though there is an inner prodding to be connected to that kind of life. I feel pity for those whose sorry experiences in life may have dampened their capacity to dream their big dream, believing that it was impossible.

Beyond that, though, I think that we are naturally drawn to thinking of great things and wondering about our roles in them. It must be in human beings’ makeup to appreciate the bigger, greater, and limitless existence. In fact, we create gods and demigods and superheroes without great effort, as though there is an inner prodding to be connected to that kind of life. I feel pity for those whose sorry experiences in life may have dampened their capacity to dream their big dream, believing that it was impossible.

More importantly, I look at human history and the great leaps of both knowledge and material achievements. They were made possible by the imagination of dreamers who saw the possibility of fruition beyond their lifetimes but were not dissuaded. Their impossible dream was only so if life ended with them. But those dreamers of yore and those who are most active today must appreciate the collective reality beyond merely their individual existence. Serious history students can easily attest that what seemed impossible at the dreamer’s time came to be and maybe bordering on obsolescence today, if not already.

There are many reasons why we do things, the more important ones, that is. We can choose to be driven by our fears and apprehension; subsequently, we take the narrow road simply because it is familiar. Then, there are the decisions we make our aspirations drive that. By their very nature, these decisions are expansive, sometimes even radical. These decisions form the foundation of progress, which necessarily takes on what was steady and incorporates the innovative.

“There are many reasons why we do things, the more important ones, that is. We can choose to be driven by our fears and apprehension; subsequently, we take the narrow road simply because it is familiar.”

Doing the practical means doing just that – what is practical. Yet, it sets the trap of doing one thing all over again, even when everything around us changes. Imagine what everything was like 500 years ago, or 100 years ago, or even just the 1990s. They were not bad, of course, but they would have been worse than bad if they stood still while the rest of life was moving on.

So, Ed Morato, I did not know you well, but I know of you well enough. And I am happy you were not afraid to dream your impossible dream.

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