By Nury Vittachi
Follow your dream. Three times in the past month I have been at talks where I've been told that the most important thing I must do is Follow My Dream.
That's fine, but which dream do I follow? The one where I am naked in the supermarket? Or the one where a giant pre-schooler is chasing me with a cigar-clipper as I wade through a lake of noodles?
I asked my colleague Eddie for advice.
"I think they mean you should follow your DAYDREAM," he said. "Not the weird dreams you have at night."
This made it even harder! How do I arrange to be hotly pursued by a love-struck Scarlett Johansson? Or be tickled to a state of delirium by novitiate nuns?
Achieving one's full potential is not easy, you know.
Anyway, why exactly should one follow one's dream? According to all three speakers, one NEEDS to do so to achieve true happiness.
Well, that's a major downer. I am destined to be miserable all my life. Unless some kind, well-connected reader can give me Scarlett Johansson's email address. (Or has a nun costume.)
Hearing about my dilemma, Eddie came up with a good idea: "Why don't you just change your daydream to something easy to achieve? And then you can get ultimate happiness."
So I decided to spend that morning (I was at a boring business conference) daydreaming that I would have a cappuccino and a slice of carrot cake for lunch.
I then found a café and purchased a cappuccino and a slice of carrot cake.
Did I achieve ultimate happiness? Did I heck. I achieved a snack.
The fact is, this sort of modern philosophy stinks. Yet people like author Paulo Coelho ("The Alchemist") have made massive fortunes telling people to do this sort of thing.
What about the downsides, huh? Huh? Do they tell you about THAT?
I once knew a lawyer whose fantasy was to be an actor. After more than 10 years as a barrister, he abandoned the law and signed up with the actor's union.
After "resting" for a few months, he got a job—playing a lawyer. He was stiff and tall, he always dressed in black, and he had a crisp, deep, powerful voice: what else could he play?
"I'm still striding around a court saying, 'your honour'," he mused. "The only difference is that I have gone from the most secure, high-paying job in the world, to the least-secure, lowest-paying job in the world."
But from Mr Coelho's point of view, he'd followed his dream.
On the last day of the conference, I was chatting to a young woman and I asked what her husband did. She replied: "Actually, you are living his dream."
"You mean he wants to be a non-entity napping at a business conference?" I said, astonished.
"Yes," she replied. "But a non-entity whose novels actually get published."
Clearly this woman's husband had been talking to Eddie and had decided to aim low on the achievability index.
"And what's your dream?" I asked.
"Nothing much, really," she said. "But I would kill for a decent cup of coffee."
I smiled and pointed at the coffee shop I had discovered earlier. "In that case, I can make your dreams come true," I said. "And manslaughter will not be required."