Friday, April 2, 2010

What You Pursue Becomes Your Master

On another boards a woman raised the issue of a dream lost. This dream was to pursue a particular career that is not acceptable for a frum woman. She gave up her dream in order to become frum. Recently she learned that a friend of hers, achieved "her" dream, and was now somewhat famous: and my friend felt a bit crushed.

Someone else had her dream.

We all have dreams, many a dream through our lives, that must be replaced as we get older. Some are simply impossible or nearly impossible to achieve. Other's, while achievable, would require compromise of our values.
Rather than consider these dreams crushed and destroyed I think we should view them as the "work" toward what I think should be everyone's goal.

Being a better "self". Being the person one wants to present to Hashem (G-d) at the end of the days, and helping others to reach that same goal.

Our dreams become our master's in order to achieve them. If we are pursuing fortune then money becomes our master, if we pursue fame, then accolades control us, if we pursue any dream but becoming a better human being  in service to the world than that dream is what controls us.

That doesn't mean we can't have mini-dreams to lead us to our goal. If art is enjoyable then using art to inspire others and oneself to become better people is a logical course of action. But if our art doesn't inspire others and we feel disappointed because of the lack of appreciation, rather than trying a different path, and simply regarding our art work as part of self-inspiration/motivation, then we are moving along the wrong path.

Not every career or action necessarily seems to fit the pattern of "inspiration and betterment of self and others...".  One of the workers in my office is a janitor. He can cleans, always with a beautiful smile on his face and a gentle manner. Of course this simple action makes my work environment better and thus I feel more productive. But it is more than that.

He inspires me. There is something uplifting in his manner and his warmth that has nothing to do with his broom or his mop. I always feel happier seeing him. I greet him, and do wish I knew whether he had a wife and children so that I could wish them well too, but my Hebrew is so poor that I have a hard time speaking with Hebrew only speakers and thus have felt uncomfortable asking him.

Our true dream in life should be to become ourselves, and the best ourselves we can be. It is hard work, and crushed, false dreams may very well litter our path there. But just as a dancer gets blisters on their heels and toes along the way to becoming a prima ballerina, so too all of us get blisters on our hearts from dreams we had to give up or failed to achieve. And they are not a true loss, but rather a stepping stone to help us get to the next level of our lives.

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