Skip to content

💭 Letter 97: Why have dreams?

10 min

Rudy, Rocky, The Alchemist, No rEgrets, Serendipitous Uber Drive, Shell Hunting

If you are new here or missed last week's edition, you can catch up on the past letters here. If you are reading this for the first time, I’d love you to sign up below to join the other curious and intentional learn-it-alls:

Aloha fellow learn-it-all 👋

Greetings from Diamond Head, O’ahu 🌺

It's good to be back from my family holiday last week in Florida. I feel like my cup is full of sunshine and love.

I couldn't sleep on the ten hour connection flight from Atlanta to Honolulu, so I watched some inspiring movies that I'll share more about below.

I kept getting goosebumps from both of the stories and their accompanying soundtracks. My plane neighbor probably thought I was a wacko for the amount of waterworks streaming down my face while watching a football game. I don't know what it is about constrained spaces that evokes heightened emotions and tears out of me. They just love to flow.

Now, let’s dive into letter 97 from a learn-it-all. Enjoy!

❓ Question to think about

Why have dreams?

🖊 Writing

When I first googled this, the results were, “they help you store important memories and things you've learned”. Agreed. Those are our unconscious sleeping dreams though. In this case, I am talking about the conscious dreams that imply an anticipated state of happiness upon arrival.

Having a dream gives me clarity and a hypothesis of how I want to live life and aim towards. It’s like a roadmap of where I think I want to go and can change along the way.

As for my childhood or present- day dreams... they are ever-evolving.

When I was in kindergarten, I loved art class. Vincent van Gogh was a Dutch fella, and he was THE man. I loved his starry night painting. The story from his art made him out to serve as a heroic image.

I daydreamed about the idea of a life where I got to create whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I later thought that living in the Netherlands was a dream of mine. Studying at the University of Amsterdam in 2017 certainly is one of my fondest memories. I’d rather be a doer than a dreamer or an “ideas gal”.

I feel like my dreams are a bunch of mosaic tiles that look beautiful from afar, but up close, look like a tangential mess of dangerous glass scattered everywhere without much linear sense.

I can’t help but probe further and ask myself: What is the difference between a dream and a desire? Are dreams similar to goals or is that ‘Productivity Jen’ kicking into gear?

I don’t know if I’d define myself as having those BIG lofty dreams. Sure, I love to imagine and have heroes I crave to be more like. It depends how I define a dream and the scale it’s on.

I knew that I had a desire to be a writer when I was younger, but I didn't know why or how. I hated reading. It made me look stupid given my dyslexia. It was a barrier to say the least. Regardless, Anne Frank’s diary served as a north star to me. She was an ordinary girl, like any of us, who shared a priceless story.

While on family vacations growing up, my sister thought I was crazy staying up late to put pen to paper. I had to capture my adventures. I didn't know why. I just did.

It feels cathartic to me to re-live for a few minutes my favorite parts of the day.

To be a writer isn’t any glamorous dream, like treasure to find at the Great Pyramid of Giza or to play on the Notre Dame football team or achieve the heavyweight boxing title.

I don’t want my dreams to be led by my ego or pride. I want them to come from inward and within. Dreams are, after all, what makes life joyous rather than merely tolerable.

🎬 Watching Rudy

Based on a true story, Rudy is a 1993 movie of a determined dreamer who refuses to give up despite the odds against him to get into Notre Dame and be a walk on for the football team.

He’d always been told that he was too small to play college football.

Rudy’s best friend died in front of him during an accident in the steel mill where his father works. Mid-funeral, he decided that Pete's death was reason enough to redouble his efforts and pursue his dream and run away to South Bend, Indiana. Pete was the only one who cheered Rudy on to never give up on his dreams.

Before Rudy set off on all of this, hid dad told him, “Chasing your dreams only causes heartache to those around you. We don’t belong at Notre Dame because that’s for rich kids.”

Once at South Bend, Rudy became relentlessly resourceful.

He plowed his way into the coach’s office to introduce himself. He worked and slept in the locker room there to simply be in the environment of his dreams. He sought mentorship from a priest, who led his path to go through two years of community college.  His tutoring friend D-Bob helped Rudy to partner with his dyslexia and gain admission to Notre Dame after three semesters of rejection letters. After making it onto the team, Rudy gave over 100% at every practice despite never getting to play an actual game.

Talk about ruthless effort.

Despite all of this, his family still didn’t believe he was on the team because they never saw him on TV. Until his final game as a senior. This was only after every player advocated on his behalf. Even the coach admitted that Rudy had more heart and work ethic than most of the team. Though, he didn’t have the talent nor size to excel.

His whole life Rudy listened to people that told him what he could and couldn’t do.
Up until running out of that tunnel, those final plays and being carried off the field, Rudy thought he was a failure and wasted all those years. He wanted to produce results from chasing his dreams and be able to prove he was somebody who made it.

The head groundskeeper told him to look around and see everything else he had achieved. He’s the first in his family to attain a college degree. Even if he never got to be on the big screen, none of it was a waste.

🎬 Watching Rocky

Boxer Rocky Balboa aka "The Italian Stallion" was randomly chosen to take on reigning world heavyweight champion, Apollo Creed. America is the land of opportunity. Balboa was hesitant to accept the offer. He agreed to take a shot at the once in a lifetime opportunity from being a small-time boxer from working-class Philadelphia to go from a nobody to a somebody.

My favorite scene of this movie is when he is training for the big day. He wakes up at 4AM, chugs five eggs yolks in a cup and then goes off jogging in his sweatsuit and high top converse sneakers. He later gets a companion of a dog named “Butkus” to join him.

SPOILER ALERT: Through the series of movies, Rocky become the world champion.

This was never a dream of his. It became one, once the opportunity presented itself. He could never have predicted this luck of being chosen in the first place would happen.

(This is an amazing inspiring soundtrack that I highly recommend listening to.)

📖 Reading

I recently finished reading The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, for the second time. Each page is so rich with metaphors for life. I never thought I could relate to a shepherd so well.

While on his way to fulfill his dream of treasure at the Egyptian Pyramids, Santiago came across many other forms of treasure. These caused the journey to be zig zagged rather than a linear straight line.

From his first friend that robbed him, to meeting the crystal merchant that Santiago made thrive, to meeting the love of his life, and the Alchemist, none of this was predicted when he first left his home and sold his sheep.

I don’t want to give away this story as I want you to read it for yourself to see how he follows his dream and learns the language of the world.

Paulo Coelho writes of Santiago seeking his “Personal Legend”.

This is similar to a dream (IMO) as it serves as the only means by which an individual can live a satisfying life. Santiago has to give up his flock of sheep, his love, and material success of gold to achieve his Personal Legend.

Those who put off their Personal Legends suffer regret and fail to experience the possibilities that the universe bestows upon those who follow their Personal Legends. The primary theme of The Alchemist is that all individuals must live in singular pursuit of their individual dreams.

Across all of the different characters he encounters one of my favorite lessons from Santiago is:

You don't need a teacher to be a student.

Three of my favorite quotes are:

  1. “There is only one way to learn,” the alchemist answered. “It’s through action. Everything you need to know you have learned through your journey."
  2. "I’m beginning what I could have started ten years ago. But I’m happy at least that I didn’t wait twenty years.”
  3. "And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

(There’s many many more notes I have on this book that I will be adding to my website.)

🎧 Listening

I've been listening to an older 2001 Aesop Rock song called "No rEgrets".

I'd be lying if I said that I was an all time rapper fan. However, this song piqued my interest as I was thinking more and more about dreams. I give the genre a lot of credit though. It has ballads in a complex poetry slam rap style. The subject is relatable, the melody is engaging, and his flow is timed well with the rhythm.

This bar below hit spot on:

Look, I've never had a dream in my life
Because a dream is what you wanna do, but still haven't pursued
I knew what I wanted and did it till it was done
So I've been the dream that I wanted to be since day one!

How do I interpret this?

That his dreams have not been without reach. That every day of his life is the dream itself. This reminds me of my gratitude practice. I make sure not to overlook the gifts glaring me in the face before my ambitious ego steps in and makes me believe that I’m not doing enough.

To listen to the whole song:

🔎 Word to define

Dream: A visionary scheme; a wild conceit; an idle fancy; a vagary; a revery; in this sense, applied to an imaginary or anticipated state of happiness; as, a dream of bliss; the dream of his youth.

To let the mind run on in idle revery or vagary; to anticipate vaguely as a coming and happy reality; to have a visionary notion or idea; to imagine

🌟 Four Quotes to Inspire

  1. "Everything is energy. Ideas are simply organized energy, a sort of mold into which more solidified energy can be poured. A book begins an an idea. So does a social movement. So does a building. We cast our dreams and desires ahead of us, and as we move toward them, their content takes on solidity. We cocreate our lives."
    -Julia Cameron
  2. Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines! Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover!”
    –Mark Twain
  3. “You know you’re in love with what you're working on when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.
    –Dr. Seuss
  4. "Be brave. Take risks. Nothing can substitute experience."
    –Paulo Coelho

🎙 Recording

Coming back from Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu, I had a serendipitous Uber driver. I ended up leaving with a signed copy of his first ever published collection of poetry.

Clift is a pseudonymous writer, poet, painter, photographer, and songwriter, who has been living here for over 35 years. I'm excited at the opportunity to learn from such a creative lifelong learner.

The silly coincidence from this was that before leaving Florida, my dad asked me, “what’s your next project?”. This encounter sparked inspiration for me to create and believe in myself more than before.

To listen to the 89 second story on Racket:

📷 Photos of the Week

While growing up, vacations for the family were always to Florida. My favorite parts were boogie boarding, sneaking into the Holiday Inn waterfall jacuzzi, and shell hunting with my sister.

I've never found so many alive conch shells in my life. Woo wee, they are smelly crustaceans while still alive. I'll never forget the sight I saw of two little boys ripping the legs out of the conches to fling into the air for a sea gull snack. They seemed like villains. Jeepers, the survival of the fittest can be a rude awakening.

Finding perfectly whole sand dollars was a dream of mine. I can’t believe my family actually found four of them. I’m rich with shell money! Send me to the sea.

In the end, I felt like Aerial from the Little Mermaids with a collection of thingamabobs from studying her sea world. Sadly barely any of these came back to O’ahu with me. 💔

🙏 Shoutouts

I appreciate you reading this! If certain ideas resonated or you have feedback to improve my future newsletters, I’d love you to leave a comment, reply to this email, or send me a message on Twitter @JenVermet. If you want to learn more about who I am, I welcome you to visit my online home.

Never stop learning 😁

Mahalo 🌺


👣 Footnotes

On why to prioritize creation:

On how being a fool can have perks:

On why we need to create space in our lives:

If you’re reading this because someone shared this newsletter with you, welcome! I’d love it if you subscribed below to receive future updates:


Subscribe to receive the latest posts in your inbox.