Before he died in 2008, Carnegie Mellon Computer Science professor, Randy Pausch, gave a now famous talk called the Last Lecture. He wrote a book with the same title. Both are about achieving your childhood dreams. Although he was dying, his book and lecture were all about the role and the power that dreams play in how we live. Dreams are the Cold Fusion of the human endeavor; though without mass they defy the laws of physics by turning their unlimited potential energy into action and into really cool stuff.
Vanity Fair recently ran a retrospective of photos from the making of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. This picture brings to light the ‘stuff that dreams are made of’ and the stuff that they can make. How many people reading this blog haven’t had a dream resembling this scene in the top 3/4 of the photo, hanging precariously, threatened by an ominous figure, little option other than to fall? (Of course, many of us might always cast ourselves as Luke, though David might dream more of being Vader). But the best part is the bed of mattresses (the other stuff of dreams) and the strange silhouette at the bottom – revealing the trick to George Lucas’ magic. Lucas’ dream, a sci-fi replication of the dreams of Sophocles, Shakespeare and many others before him, ignited
the dreams of millions, while building a multi-billion dollar empire.
Dreams like Lucas’ and those before him, in turn, spurred on the real exploration of space, which has produced dream-like results. Before seeing the picture of the Comet Hartley 2 on the right, who would have thought that we could build a spacecraft to intercept a rock traveling through space, freeze it in time and send its image back to us?
As Prospero said, ‘we are such stuff as dreams are made on.’ Yet, we spend so much time distracting ourselves from our own dreams, or inadvertently squelching the dreams of others, including our children. But, if we listen to them, if we strive to enable those of others, especially those younger than us, these dreams, which begin in our early years have the power to propel us just about anywhere we may want to go in the universe. Including on to a stage to sing with your favorite musician, as happened several weeks back for a Burke student who was picked to sing with Jenny Lewis when she performed at the Black Cat.
Thanks to Kevin M. ’11 for the video.
[Ed Note: for Jenny & Burke fans, take a look beginning at about 0:53 as Jenny looks into the crowd at the 7th grade sister of the Burke student on the stage, just as she's about to sing about somethin' naughty... As Bogart/Sam Spade said in the Maltese Falcon: this is the stuff that dreams are made of.]
[Another note: one of Burke.Word's early dreams was flying a glider. What was/is your's? Leave a comment.]