A few months ago over the summer, I was sitting in a hiker shelter watching dusk slowly creep over the Appalachian wilderness. I had only been on the trail for five days, but what an adventure it had been.
I had grown accustomed to being perpetually dirty, overcame my fear of spiders, and learned to love Ramen even more (being a college student, I thought this wasn’t possible). My first experience with a bear one late night made it abundantly clear to me that I was indeed hanging my food from a tree for a reason, and not just for decoration.
Swimming around under an ice-cold waterfall became a decidedly good way to end the day after hoofing it for an average of 16 miles. I thought I was adjusting well to the joys and rigors of trail life, but there was one thing I still just couldn’t get a hold of.
And that was sleeping.
So there I sat on top of my sleeping bag, watching pieces of sky become one with the already dark leaves. I finally gave up, turned on my flashlight, and grabbed the shelter journal (standard in all Appalachian Trail shelters). Most of the time the entries are amusing and sometimes they contain very pertinent information regarding the shelter and the surrounding area (problem bears, scarce water, etc.). But I never expected to find a revelation inside.
Someone from Maine made a comment similar to:
“This trek has been amazing! I really don’t want to go back into the real world tomorrow…”
Another hiker replied:
“The trail is more real than your ‘real world.’”
I stared at this small, archaic pen & paper conversation for a few minutes, mouth agape, and came to the conclusion that the second hiker was exactly right. On the trail, there was no crisis of self-worth. There was no existential struggle. There was no ridiculous standard of which to measure myself by. There was only a true, unfiltered reality that I wanted to enjoy not only on the trail, but also in everyday life.
The Dream World
Somewhere along the human timeline we began building a dream world. In this virtual reality, one needs to have a respectable, high-paying job, a nice car, and a two-story house with a white picket fence. The collective human conscious screams at us, telling us that this is what we need, day in and day out.
The Citizens of Dream World
The conscious belongs to that guy in the car commercial that deceptively tells you that you will be happy and get tons of girls once you sign and drive. It belongs to that attractive girl in the Victoria’s Secret ad that asserts that you will never be happy until you look exactly like her. These smiling ghosts of pseudo-happiness are the inhabitants of our false reality.
Are people really like this?
Think really hard. Do you know anyone that acts like the people in the advertisements that we are constantly bombarded by daily in all forms of media? Do you know anyone that lives up to the ridiculous standards they establish in our culture? Probably not. Because these are all fake people that we are encouraged to be, even though it’s impossible to reach that pinnacle of social perfection. TV is no different. However, if there is a Barney Stinson out there, I’d love to hang out with him.
仔细想想。你认识任何人行为举止像每天透过各种媒体向我们疲劳轰炸的广告里面的人吗？你认识任何人符合那些他们在我们的文化里设立的荒谬标准吗？大概没有吧！因为我们被怂恿要去成为的那些人都是捏造的，即使要达到理想社会的顶端是不可能的事。电视也一样。不过，如果Barney Stinson 出现的话，我会很高兴跟他出去走走的。
The Career Options of Dream World
In Dream World, doing what you love is something you’re supposed to do in your free time. It’s all about the paper. You need to get a business degree if you want to succeed; don’t you dare go after some Mickey Mouse degree in music or art. That’s not where the money is. The money is behind a desk, and you have to sit there for eight hours a day to get it. If you want to be respected and happy in Dream World, you need to have one of these conventional desk jobs.
Do people really enjoy this?
I find it hard to believe that your dream job was sitting in that lumbar assassin of a chair, putting in the hours on a grueling expense report. You wanted to be a musician (a writer, astronaut, whatever) but everyone told you it was a bad idea, and you didn’t even try. They told you it was a bad idea because they were miserable behind their desks and didn’t want to watch someone rise above. Try to make a career out of what you love. The things you’re passionate about should not be hobbies; they should be your primary focus.
It’s not easy to wake up after being asleep for so long. Start by examining your life. Who are you? Are you being the real you, or are you suppressing your most genuine self so you can be a citizen of Dream World? It is common advice, but it’s some of the best around:
Next, make some active steps towards doing what you want to do in life. I obviously cannot make money simply by hiking, but I could be a park ranger. Try to integrate your passions into the forefront of your life.
Waking up is as simple as being who you want to be and doing what you want to do.
I did finally get to sleep that night. Although I didn’t get much, I woke up feeling refreshed and refocused. Today would be the day that I hiked into town and my ride would take me back home. I wasn’t worried about the transition back to normal life. I was in the real world on the Appalachian Trail, but I would also be in the real world back at school.
It was simply a matter of attitude. As long as I strove to do what I wanted to do and be who I wanted to be, I had a future of wakefulness in a pure reality.
One Sunday afternoon last December, Ann Sutton happily watched over a holiday cooking spree in her kitchen. Son Mickey stirred up a batch of candy. Daughter JaKeilla and her boyfri
It is the stuff of the Hollywood movie Inception: a dreamworld that can be manipulated at will. In fact, for more and more of us, it is becoming a reality, with the number of peopl