Monday, 3 December 2012

Why Paul Valéry was right...

Dreams. Most of us have them in some shape or form. But what actually are dreams? The beauty of the English language is such that most words we utter have several meanings. 'Dream' is no exception. The Oxford English Dictionary offers two meanings.
  • "a series of thoughts, images, and sensations occurring in a person’s mind during sleep."
  • "a cherished aspiration, ambition, or ideal."
This is all fair enough, both meanings are universally accepted; but are they completely different ideas? I have never been one for motivational quotes. I generally feel they have no place in society other than a conference room wall on the 42nd floor of the 'Shard' or on the stairwell of a Supermarket staff area. There has however always been one that has stuck in the back of my mind. Paul Valéry was best known for being a poet. The Frenchman died in 1945 but left behind an idea which has intrigued me since the first time I read it (Ironically on the wall of a boardroom).

He said “the best way to make your dreams come true is to wake up” 

To truly understand what this actually meant I set about using myself as a case study to try and obtain some meaning behind the quote. 
I've always considered myself lucky. Throughout my entire academic career I have witnessed scores of people struggle with the idea of the future. Friends and colleagues. Hurtling down the steep gradient of education, heading towards graduation. GCSE's, A-Levels, Degrees fly by; still no answer. They rack their brains endlessly hoping for a solution to jump out at them. A lot of them still don't know what they 'want to be when they grow up'. I on the other hand have always wanted to fly. 

One could easily categorise this a 'dream'. It could also be considered an aspiration, a hope, an ambition or even if you're being cocky, an intention. I personally see it as a dream. It's not too out of reach, but still requires enough hard work and perhaps a bit of luck to achieve it. Dreams are out of this world and who really wants to say that all they achieved after their blood, sweat and tears was something dull? Something unworthy of their precious subconscious dream time.

So we've established that I have a dream. But is that enough? Is that what Valéry was hinting at? During the hours of darkness I have been a millionaire, a footballer, an airline pilot, a hero and god knows what else. I always told my girlfriend that I loved going to sleep because I enjoyed dreaming so much and its easy to see why. Everything is possible in the land of nod. What happens when the result of a harmless pastime becomes a real life target though? Something has to change.

I have always been expert at dreaming. I always thought that having a dream was enough. I was always a bit foolish and this was frequently pointed out to me. Of course in true stubborn, teenage style, I dismissed it as rubbish and carried on partying. The problem is I thought that 'I'm going to be a pilot' was enough. I thought it portrayed ambition and that when people heard me say it they'd be hugely impressed and accept the statement as gospel. That was until the next question; "So what are you doing to achieve it?" I hardly ever had an answer. Even throughout my University foundation year and subsequent resit (see 'Back On Track, My Two Years from July 2011) I was adamant that I was to end up a commercial pilot while in reality this was nothing other than a naive assumption based on no actions or evidence. Don't get me wrong, I never lacked the passion for Aviation. I've always loved flying, aircraft and the airlines. I just never really had the focus. Having said that after two attempts I passed and started my current course. Aviation Technology with Pilot studies.

This year I've progressed onto second year of my degree, I've completed my Private Pilots Licence, I've moved to Leeds with Hannah and found a voluntary position at Leeds Bradford Airport. The move wasn't received well and you can hardly blame them. The idea of a 50 mile daily commute left me branded a fool. Having said that, I still stand by it as a fundamental life changing decision. I am absolutely loving University, I travel on the 0637 train from Leeds to get there. I've been attending and I've been engaging. My PPL has allowed me to look into the future and plan the course towards my Airline career with confidence. The Voluntary Information Patron position at Leeds has allowed me to become involved in the day to day operation of an exciting regional airport. Having said all of that. Before the degree, the license and the job I had Hannah. The foundation on which all of this has been built on. Don't get me wrong my achievements were certainly not possible without the support of others like my parents (for which I'm eternally grateful), but Hannah has inspired me to improve myself as a person since the day I met her. Hannah is currently enjoying working for a Digital Marketing company here in Leeds. She was the first in her class by a few months to find a relevant job following graduation. This wasn't luck or favouritism. She did it by going out and finding placements while she was at University, improving her skills in her spare time, reading up on the industry and all while working and writing a dissertation for which she was awarded a %79 mark. Living with such a motivated person has certainly had an effect on me. Something which I'm very happy about and have taken full advantage of. 

Aviation has always been my biggest passion and with all that has gone on in recent years, I'm thrilled to be so heavily involved in the industry I adore. I now believe in myself and my abilities. For the first time in my life I can genuinely say I believe that I am going to become a Commercial Pilot. I look forward to the future now, I can taste it. The only way is up.

Its certainly clear that Valéry was correct. A dream is not enough in life. An ambition does not see you through. Something has to click in your mind. The best way to make your dream come true is definitely to wake up. I have.

I would like to thank Hannah my wonderful girlfriend as well as both of my brilliant parents Heather & Eddie for the support I've had throughout my endeavours and adventures into Aviation as well as the rest of my family and friends. I've been a complete toe rag at times but I've always had the people closest to me stood by my side spurring me on. I hope they can begin to enjoy my journey as much as I am and hope that they're still by my side when I finally get there.


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