The festering of dreams

My best friend is in law school and he generally dislikes it. When he’s not studying, he gets stoned and writes me lengthy emails about his pot-induced epiphanies, rating each one on a “highness” scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the “highest” he thinks he could get. Whenever the rating exceeds 5, I am wary, because the higher he is, the more insipid the contents.

His most recent email, however, was different and strangely enough, unrated. It was autobiographical, and it made me feel things: concern, curiosity, potential. There was potential for some kind of discovery there.

In it, he presented an argument for his self-diagnosed identity crisis that went more or less like this: I am my accomplishments. I lose my potential accomplishments to competitors more successful than I. And when I do, I lose myself.

Instead of pursuing his dreams, he becomes reclusive and spends most nights smoking up and experimenting with his drugs. Averaging only 3 to 4 hours of sleep a day, he lives on various substances that keep him awake.

He’s actually successful in his studies and career — he’d pass for any respectable law student — but as with most of us, he feels something lacking.

He told me he’s stopped dreaming. To cease to dream is to cease to be human, I’ve always thought. Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to teach and write and to an extent, that is what I’ve been doing the past few years. And until last year, my life goal was to pursue graduate studies in Philosophy and start my own boarding school, where I would educate and inspire children in the hopes of making the world a better place.

When my friend was still in Korea, he told me he wanted to use his law degree to work in international law, helping people live a better life. When we were together, he and I would wake up, eat breakfast, and step out into the cool morning to head to work. He would go down the hill for the bus, and as we parted, sleepy-eyed and sluggish, I would shout, “Two heroes!” and feel lucky that going to work meant going to school, seeing my students, sharing knowledge and love. And we did that for a steady year, but in the end (and a disastrous end it was), I was only tired. And sad, regretful of everything I did wrong.

Of his dreams, I have only a vague idea: love, friendship, work, and opportunities. Of mine, I don’t have much to say; I just want to enjoy life and love people. The dreams I’d accumulated over the years seemed less and less important, so I let go. Maybe I’ve grown cynical, or maybe I’m selfish.

Nowadays, I just want to write. Sometimes I feel the urge to write for others (and often, I have to as part of my job) but mostly I write for myself. Because it sustains me. Because I need to.

I wish I could write books and be read and have people feel something, see something new. But instead of trying, I drink and read (it’s better than my writing) and engage in questionable relations. When I can’t sleep at night, I scribble what I feel in a notebook and dare to call it writing.

I don’t know which is more troubling, if that is what this is: the fear of failure, or a growing indifference towards the world.




  1. At the end of the day, the only question I have for myself is “Why?”. Why do what you do? Why bother to go forward? Why, if you are me, move out of the still waters in life?

    An interesting read, any chance of expanding on your musings?

    • n said:

      Thanks for the comment, Daniel 🙂

      My answer to the question, “Why?” has gone from “because I want to help make the world better” to “because I enjoy it,” partially because I’ve grown tired from working and have less faith that I am capable of contributing to such a cause. But now that I think about it, I think my goal is and has always been the same — to create more love in the world — and I don’t exactly know how to do that on a bigger scale than in my own personal life, but I think I have plenty of time to figure that out. 🙂

  2. Yoo Jeong Jung said:

    As there is no such things that are “right” or “wrong” in this troublesome world, I think having mere self-motivational goals are good enough. Though that may sound selfish and detached to the world out there, we have to start from somewhere – even if that is simple drinking or reading for our happiness or amusement. Then perhaps we can grow into a person with (i guess we can call it) bigger dreams. At least for me, trying to do is one of many options that include drinking, reading, eating, smoking or whatever is out there. So living a moment of the moment and not regretting it sounds good enough for me.
    Good to read written version of your thoughts! 🙂

    • n said:


      I think us two are definitely “live without regrets” kind of gals 😉

  3. siten said:

    Me incessantly seriously considered this particular, very good putting up

    • n said:

      Thank you, siten!

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