Cursed Dreams



“Today, all of humanity's dreams are cursed somehow. Beautiful yet cursed dreams. – Hayao Miyazaki”

I watched a few film analysis videos on The Wind Rises today.

I get inspired whenever I watch movies a fervent protagonist obsess over a dream, go through the challenges and difficulties of achieving that dream, and finally make it in the end. I'm filled with the childlike wonder and belief that anything is possible, and our dreams are as real as we make of them.

But soon after, another feeling comes, I realize that most of us, we'll never achieve our dreams. We might not even know what our dream is. Some of us don't even have one. We just go through life, day by day, never realizing our true potential. And it's not because the person isn't doing what they can do achieve it, it's because their background and circumstances has defined their lives, they don't have the luxury of choice, to even taste the anxiety of unbounded possibilities ahead of them. The molten lava that once erupted, flared, and flowed in them has hardened, the fire that once burned passionately, sniffed out by the realities of life.

Miyazaki's cursed dream was to make beautiful films. Jiro's cursed dream was to build beautiful airplanes.

Right now it feels like I don't have one, at least, it's not clear. I have a fuzzy idea of what it might look like; I see bits and pieces of it that don't really make up anything yet. I might just be mimetic desire. I see young founders getting into YC and building companies that solve interesting problems and new-grads working on the cutting-edge like self-driving, robotics, aerospace in big tech companies that shape the world. I tell myself I want that too. Maybe it's the prestige I'm after. The millions, even billion dollar valuation that comes from this pursuit.

Envy arises when I see them everywhere, because deep down I think I'm capable of that too. I wasn't born in the US, nor did I go to a top-ranking university, but I believe it all comes down to hard work, curiosity, and luck. It's going to be extremely hard, it's a dark tunnel with no end in sight, but what's life if we're not throwing ourselves onto problems that grip us, that ones that will make us stay up all night, disregarding our health and sanity, because it feels like we're at the precipice of something big. Would you not choose that life over a life that is monotonous and plain.

Maybe it goes back to the fear of having an ordinary life. I associate ordinary with failure, of not realizing my full potential. I feel like I have to accomplish big things in my life. I want to leave it better than when I found it. I don't want fame. I don't need my name everywhere. But I want to see my creations making the world a better place.

This dream is a cursed dream. It's a dream that I cannot achieve by staying and being content with the country I was born in. The US is the place where people to make their dreams a reality. My cursed dream would mean that I won't be here as my parents grow older and weaker. But hopefully by then I'll be rich by then to have the luxury to visit them often, and even bring them over.

I think it's hard to define my dream because it's another way of asking the big question of what I want out of my life. And these past few months where I was forced to slow down and sit with my thoughts. Reflecting on my life for the past two years: what I've been aiming at, what I've been running away from, what I've discovered about myself. I still have a lot of doubts about who I am. I'm malleable and porous. My identity is constantly being shaped and moulded by the things I consume and people around me.

But I know that as someone who grew up in a family operating on scarcity mindset, I'm really driven by money. I owe my dad a lot, I'm eternally grateful, but it's building up guilt. My health conditions + cosmetics stuff required almost ~RM30k so far. My excessively expensive undergrad education, and soon, grad school education that costs hundreds of thousands. His sacrifice has to be made worth by my success. Even if I don't have my own family, having enough money is so essential for a comfortable life. And how much is enough? Enough money means having the freedom to work on my own stuff in my own time, travelling, feeling unrushed, being able to spend more time with friends and family, reading lots of books and diving into rabbit holes without feeling guilty.

Anyway, in an attempt to prompt my brain to define what my cursed dream is, here's what was generated.

On a small scale, my dream for myself is to make it in the US. And "making it" would mean building a life there in the next 5-10 years. It's what I've been fighting so hard to achieve. And now that it's becoming more possible, it's what I'll continue fighting for until it's real.

On a larger scale, my dream is to build something that I want to see in the world. One that solves a problem that is meaningful. One that reduces the suffering of others, and adds joy as well. It's not clear what that is yet. I don't believe I've exposed myself enough to life, the real problems, to the right people. I have so much of life to experience still, and there's no rush.