In John Steinbeck's masterful short novel, "Of Mice and Men," the two central characters, Lennie and George, share a dream of what life will be like in the future.
Each time the present becomes unpleasant or drained of hope, Lennie begs George to tell him "how it's gonna be." And George, though he knows better, complies.
"We'll have a cow," said George. "An' we'll have maybe a pig and chickens and down the flat we'll have a little piece of alfalfa--"
"For the rabbits," Lennie shouted.
"For the rabbits," George repeated.
"And I get to tend the rabbits."
"And you get to tend the rabbits."
Lennie giggled with happiness. "An' we'll live on the fatta the land."
This dream of the future sustains them both, even though they do nothing toward making it come true. Each time they're paid they fritter their money away, and because of Lennie's sub-normal intelligence, they are forever forced to move on to different jobs, until, near the end, Lennie accidentally kills someone and George, knowing the jig is up, holds a gun to the back of Lennie's head and prepares to pull the trigger.
But even then, as the vigilante gang is approaching and all hope of a future is gone, Lennie insists that George tell him "how it's gonna be."
This propensity of ours to dream of a better life, to wrap the unpleasantness of today in the swaddling clothes of an imagined tomorrow, is a universal one. Our ability to imagine may well be our most important survival tool.
But if we want to live as fully as we are able, we must look illusion in the face and admit the thing that George admits at the instant he pulls the trigger: the "some days" never come.
Never, that is, until we begin to work to make them happen.
Do you dream of a better way of life? Do you find yourself putting off what you'd really like to do because it doesn't seem practical right now? Do you feel incomplete, unhappy, unfulfilled?
Then you must take action, and commence to make the dreams come true. As Thoreau said, there is nothing wrong with castles in the air; that's where they belong. What we need to do is to build real foundations under them.
Foundation-building can take many forms. For some, it may mean writing letters of inquiry about going back to school or searching for a different job. For others it might involve letting go of a house or car or other possession, the payments on which have proved to be too burdensome.
Still others may need to join a 12-step group to help overcome an addiction, or seek outside counsel to right or to end an unhappy relationship.
In the quiet of our own hearts, we know which aspects of our lives need improvement: our discontents and daydreams point the way. The danger lies in doing nothing; of drifting along under the narcotic spell of "some day."
Only when we set about underpinning our fantasies with real-life action can we hope to avoid the fate of Lennie and George. If we don't take steps to make our dreams come true, they won't.
Without steadfast effort on our part, the some days never come.
(Columnist Craig Nagel recently published a collection of past Cracker Barrel articles in book form titled "A Place Called Home.")
Copyright 2008 by Craig Nagel
pineandlakes.com ©2013. All Rights Reserved.