We All Have Dreams. The beginning of each We all have dreams video produced by the Manitoba Opera begins with a quote by Anaïs Nin. I’ve been receiving links to these videos for the last few weeks and have been following them with great interest, as I am a self-professed dreamer. If you search for quotes by Anïas Nin, there are a number on the topic of dreams. That they are necessary, which is the one included in the Manitoba Opera videos. That they might lead you to to a new life, love, or country. Actually, you can become as lost in the words of Anïas Nin as you can in your dreams, an opera, a novel, or the Manitoba Opera’s videos. The dreams in the videos vary, if I recall, ranging from one young woman wanting to become a babysitter to another to become independent and work in an office to one to sing. I ask my friends what their dreams are and sometimes forget my own. One day recently I even searched on the Internet, “how to find a dream” which produced many results.
On my way along Portage Avenue this week, I stopped by the mall to play the Portage Place Piano, a public piano which almost continuously makes music. It is one of my favorite places in Winnipeg actually, listening to and playing the painted instrument. I realized as I played it, our dreams are too often end positions instead of states along the continuum. We dream of finishing that degree or getting that job position. Why not make a dream each day, work to fulfill it, and then make a new dream the next day? My dream for that day was simply to play a little music.
Have you ever had a mental block of any sort? I’ve been having some with music for longer than I’d like to admit. I understood how I fell into the well, I just didn’t know how to evade its depths. But when I remembered the elegance of some of the dreams in the videos, I realized how complicated we make everything. As I was telling my music teacher this week, there is a principle, often applied in physics, called Occam’s Razor which illustrates that the simplest solution is usually the correct one. As she said, a straight path is usually the best way to get somewhere. A sun-centered solar system makes more sense than Ptolemy’s epicycles needed to explain the planets’ orbits of an Earth-centered one.
The recent few years have precipitated the consummation of a number of dreams in physics including the discovery of the Higgs boson, a particle predicted by the theoretical model of particle physics called the Standard Model, and gravitational waves, the ripples of space-time predicted Einstein’s equations in General Relativity by Albert Einstein in 1915. I will always remember where I was when each of these revolutionary discoveries was announced. I awoke in the middle of the night on July 4, 2012 to hear the LHC CERN talks (and am sad I missed the second talk, but after the gold-standard detection was indicated on a graph, I returned to sleep, as it had been a difficult day prior). On February 11, 2016, I caught just part of Kip Thorne of LIGO’s press talk, and my eyes sculpted tears. Kip Thorne and gravitational waves have lived in my thoughts since I was a child watching The Astronomers. And stay alert, there are rumors of an imminent non-Standard Model LHC result. Will extra dimensions be discovered? It is one of my dreams to have verification of an elegant theory of everything (TOE) called string theory, a model necessitating ten dimensions instead of just the four which we all love and know.
We all have dreams. After watching the videos by the Manitoba Opera, I envisioned a dream of today. All I wanted was to play the piano. Unlike Rielle in Melinda Friesen’s Enslavement, I do possess the gift of time and a beautiful piano to play. How that book, again, expands my appreciation of freedom, and how precious each is, from being able to express ourselves to being able to make a number of choices regarding how to spend the time we have at our disposal, to being able to dream. And today I did play my piano. Following my New Year’s resolution, I did not prescribe a certain length of time to this practice. I just wanted to do some. However, once I changed inertial frames from not playing to playing, I found it hard to stop, and only did once muscular pain impeded me. Once you have made one step, the next is easier to take, so afterwards I sang some Handel. And, as I found in my voice lesson this week, singing releases muscular tension and is more effective at relieving pain than medication. A side effect of the singing is that a current of joy flowed through me. While my piano practice was analogous to meticulous problem solving, enjoyable in its own way, the singing literally released not only my voice but my mind from constraints. Singing is a conscious practice of letting go, more puissant in its efficacy than any meditation technique I’ve used. It is freeing. And, as I discovered this week as I walked about town and took buses, singing exercises in my head, breathing properly, being aware of my posture, shaping my mouth in various vowels, and relaxing my muscles, it is a way of life as well.
Do you have a mental block? Do you work on a project which might outlive you (as Einstein’s prediction of gravitational waves did)? Have you constructed a complex, circuitous road map for your life which is hard even for you to follow? My suggestion is to look at right now. What is a dream you can conceive that you can accomplish now. It might be the first rung on a ladder to a great scientific result. It might be the first measure of a piece of music. It might be to buy the ingredients to cook a good meal or to pick out a recipe. It might just be to sit down and play or to sing or to write. It might be to start to learn a skill that could potentially lead to a desired job. Just pick one dream for now which is doable today. And once you have finished that one, select another as a follow-up. And you might find that though you may or may not reach an end state that was on your original map, you will have launched off the starting point and be on a path.