Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The worth of Dreams

For those of you who are starting out on a journey of discovery, let me assure you that the doubt that you have and the fear that you feel is normal. There are always lots of unanswerable questions to journeys into unknown territory. Still, do you think that Columbus would have made it to the Americas without his dreams, or Van Gogh painted his sunflowers if he was a practical painter? Err... Don't think so.

I had no dreams and was uninspired when I was a student in Singapore. I knew that I wanted to be an engineer because that seemed like the most fun thing to do out of the expected careers in Singapore. Then I encountered dance while I was studying engineering in London. This became my overwhelming obsession in life and it was more important than anything else. After completing an engineering Phd., I enrolled in the London Contemporary Dance School. I wanted to be a dancer, it was the biggest dream in my life, probably will be the biggest 'dream' of all time of my life. That one year in London Contemporary Dance School was the best in my entire life. And yet I gave up the dream, because I realise that my body would never be able to support my dream. It hurt like hell but I turned away from dance.

Do I regret having the dream? Not at all. Would I have done something else that year if I knew the outcome? Not at all. It was the best year of my life and I can truly say that at least for that year I lived life.

Was that year in dance school a waste of time? Absolutely not. I learnt a few things in that year. The main lesson was that I did not have to follow the trodden path of the masses, i.e. engineering. I had learnt that if what you are doing does not make you happy, change it.

I also learnt in that year what it meant to be truly alive. Dance training gave me an awareness of my body that I had never had before, both its limitations and possibilities. There comes a point in time when what you are doing becomes in sync with all around you and an opportunity to create art arises. This is what I am doing with my whole life now even if I am not dancing. Art is not just in a dancer's dance or a photographer's photograph. Art is in living well, becoming aware of one's limits and possibilities, and creating something beautiful in spite of all the pain and death around us.

I have had quite a few dreams and few have come true completely. Yet, living each dream as best I can, I think that I have become a better person. And in the failure of each dream, a path is opened up to the next one. The lessons in each failure leads us to succeed. And even if we ultimately fail, at least we can say that we lived our lives without regrets. No use a living death, but dying at the end of a life well lived.

1 comment:

pfong said...

It's encouraging to read about how you are forging your own path.