Which Came First?

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Which came first, the dream or the reality?

For those who are not experiencing the reality they would prefer, it seems that the dream comes first. Of course.

We think about it. We imagine it. We play out all sorts of wonderful scenarios in our heads.

The dream becomes an exciting and beautiful goal toward which we work.

I get it.

In many ways this is me. A man of many dreams toward which I am working to turn into reality.

I am beginning to suspect that it all works the other way around, though.

As I build a life, reality happens. Sometimes it resembles my dreams, but most of the time it surprises me with its unforeseen expressions, formations, and turn of events.

I can discard these variations on the dream as so many distractions and obstacles, or I can make room for them to inform the dream.

The more significant point though, is that only in the living of reality do we gain the perspective, learning and experience that makes it possible to dream vividly, expansively and outrageously.

There is no floating cloud place where we can live in our heads before we have to touch down onto the rough and messy ground of reality.

Maybe the reason we can dream of a meaningful career is because we are suffering in a meaningless one. Maybe we dream of a world without war, disease, or pain because we’ve lost people we love and we hurt deeply.

In other words, because we have engaged with reality authentically and without reservation, we have learned both what hurts us and what gives us life. 

The imagination cannot function in a vacuum. Creativity does not emerge from nothingness.

There are no blank slates on the drawing board of life.

Maybe I’m suggesting that if we want to dream big, we first need to live big.

What idea, project, job, relationship—yes, what dream—are you trying to perfect in your head before you build in reality? What if it is in the building process that the dream actually derives its best possible form?

It’s a powerful question. Which came first, the dream or the reality?

What do you think?

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