The issue of my personal ambitions and dreams recurs every so often among my friends. It has become somewhat of a running joke-cum-truth that I have no ambition. Oftentimes I even submit to the idea that I have never had a dream for the future. My submission is not entirely a result of peer pressure though, I have evidence for a lack of ambition: when I was a child I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up (some people actually do know, or at the very least truly believe themselves) and now, nearing the completion of a university degree in computing science, I’m still struggling with what I want to do with my life. Furthermore, when I work on a project I find myself easily distracted, turning a 1500-word essay into a week-long affair for example. It never seems like too much of a stretch to admit to myself that I have little or no ambition. However, after some recent ‘soul searching’ I believe that I do have ambition, and that I am actively, if slowly, striving for an actual dream.
The reason I so readily tell people that I have no dream is that I am still thinking with the fallacy that dreams are inherently connected to careers. As a child, when I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up or when I ask myself now what I am going to do with my life I think of the catch-all trades like doctor and lawyer and find that none of them stir any kind of desire in my heart. Even if I am asked if I want to use my post-secondary degree and become, say, a programmer I don’t feel that I particularly do because when I think of the kinds of job titles open to me I don’t have a conception of what the work will actually entail. I don’t dream of becoming a junior level database engineer. Then what do I dream of?
I don’t know what career I want but I do have an idea of what I want out of life and it is not tied to any single career or any breed of career. I dream of entertaining and enlightening others through some product of my own design. My ‘art’ would certainly be for my enjoyment as well but I hope that my creations would be viewed as important, even in some small way, to the fields they are in. So, in the broadest sense, I want to write a novel, write a television show, direct a movie, compose an album, create a website, or design a game. My dream is not fueled entirely by fame, or at least major fame, I only wish that somebody look up my art on Wikipedia and know I am the artist. The corollary to my dream is that I want my creations to be my livelihood. I want to survive on my art.
Becoming an artist is ideal; however, assuming I can’t survive on my art, for some very good reasons, all I want out of life is to experience wonder, as much as an adult can. Moments of wonder are generally small but often profound in a personal way (even if I have to force it). Moments like: hiking in the rain and finding the perfect song to match the moment, reading the final paragraph of a chapter and believing that the author and I somehow understand the world in the same way, or simply appreciating a beautiful arrangement of the chromatic colours. This ambition of mine is tied to no career for a homeless man can accomplish wonder in some small way but, for the most part, to find satisfying experiences I need some small reserve of money. Therefore, I can accept the need to have a possibly unsatisfying career to fund my modest ambition for wonder; it has satisfied my life up to this point and I have no reason to believe it will not continue to satisfy the rest of it.
From here on out I am no longer going to lie to others or myself by submitting to a lack of ambition. Whether I become an artist or not I am working towards my dream and have been my whole life, I just didn’t know what it was.