The car window winds down and new age author Paolo Coelho asks for directions to the expressway. “Here, have this map,” I reply, handing him a folded piece of paper with “Follow Your Dream” on it.
Okay, that hasn’t happened yet, but scientists say we live in an infinite multiverse which means that it is statistically guaranteed to happen somewhere at some point.
It worries me that so many young writers and filmmakers I meet think “Follow Your Dream” is the most profound idea ever. My question is: Which dream? The one where I’m chained naked to Goofy at a Disneyland parade? The one where Kylo Ren is fondling his light sabre and looking at me in a creepy manner? Or one of the disturbing ones?
A colleague offered advice. “I think they mean follow your daydream, not the weird dreams you have at night, thanks to your strange eating habits,” he said, as if other people didn’t eat late-night basins of mac ‘n’ cheese with jalapeno chillis.
Following my daydreams makes it worse.How do I arrange for Taylor Swift and Emma Watson to fight over me? Or have a group of novitiate nuns chase me with tickling sticks? The phrase needs a disclaimer: “Follow your dream unless it’s kind of obvious that you shouldn’t.”
Ambition can be a bad thing. In my crime reporter days, I recall a one-legged petty thief in Indonesia who decided to follow his dream by graduating to bag-snatching. He was quickly caught by police who said he’d made a poor career choice.
It strikes me that what many people really mean by the phrase is that they want to be famous. To achieve this, forget your dream and just have a startlingly original idea. Here’s evidence for that from the news media.
Ketan Kumar, 24, stole a train for his girlfriend.He thought she would be impressed with a gift, the newspapers reported. She wasn’t, and nor were the police. Ketan, buddy, you need to think about how girls work. Big, ugly steaming lump of metal? Perfect for guys. For girls, think romance and fancy dinners.
Ketan did get into the press but ideally one should find an idea that is eyebrow-raising enough to get media attention without getting you locked up.
A good example is the pair of student scientists in Indonesia who created a dung-flavored air freshener. They collected cow poop, fermented it for several days to maximize the, er, fragrance, and then found a way to put it into a handy spray-top container. The result was instant news media fame. Personally, cow poop is not my top choice for house fragrances, but others disagree.
Karuna Menon, a reader with Indian and Malaysian roots, remarked: “The smell of cow dung reminds me of summer vacations, playing with cousins, gulmohar flowers, and reading novels in the court yard under the shade of a mango tree.”
It takes all sorts, Karuna. The comments put me in the mood for a relaxing daydreamy doze. I close my eyes and Taylor and Emma approach, looking daggers at each other and growling.
(Nury Vittachi is an Asia-based frequent traveler. Send ideas and comments via his Facebook page)