Dreaming with Eyes Wide Open

All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible.

T. E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia)Seven Pillars of Wisdom

I love this passage from T.E. Lawrence’s autobiography. It eloquently inspires and yet reminds me that simply dreaming is not enough. It is dreaming combined with action that makes things possible, and dangerous. Not dangerous to me, but dangerous to the petty, foolish things of day-to-day life that clog my mind and restrain me from living like it matters.

Do you dream with eyes open? I do, sometimes. But not enough. I fill my days with to-do lists, checking things off and responding to emails. I rush from deadline to deadline and seldom pause to wonder if what I am doing will make the biggest difference to my clients, family or friends. I dream big dreams at night, but awaken in the morning and focus on simply getting stuff done; feeling, at times, like a dog chasing its tail. I always think that when I get everything checked off on my to-do list I will then take time to dream, to plan, to be dangerous.

You know what happens, of course. At the end of my workday I have checked off a dozen items on my list and added two dozen more. With a daily routine like that, I don’t allow myself to get to open-eyed dreaming. I sometimes wonder if I’m afraid of being dangerous, of giving up the comfort of my to-do lists?

When I work with clients, I remind them that when you are too comfortable you stop learning and living fully. You need to embrace a level of discomfort to try, to discover, to achieve new things. Breaking a pattern is uncomfortable. What if you miss a deadline or a to-do? Can you—can I—take that risk?

Dreaming with eyes open so that you can be dangerous to deadly routines that sap your possibilities is a risky thing to do.

But I am intrigued by the idea of being dangerous. Aren’t you, too?