I recently learnt that the term pipe dream originated in the late 19th century, referring to a dream experienced when smoking an opium pipe. I had always thought it referenced the experience of looking at something through a pipe – a distancing mode of relation that keeps that which you are looking at out of your reach, an unattainable or fanciful hope or scheme.
So many of my dreams seem like this when they first appear on the horizon of my heart and mind. I feel like Edgar Allan Poe peering deep into the darkness, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before me. We are after all, as Jack Kerouac said, dream beings and dreaming ties us all together.
Anatole France said that in order to accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe. This is a balance that I often struggle to strike as the weight of the awareness that responsibility begins in dreams settles on my consciousness. And yet I am a dream being, who in dreaming and acting and planning and believing feels most alive.