The Apocrypha’s “The Wisdom of Sirach” III – Dreams Give Wings to Fools (Unless Visions from God)
I dreamed of being in Duran Duran was I was young. There was something about their music, their videos, their concert films that enthralled me. And watching other musicians perform, I understood on some deep level that I wanted to feel what musicians felt writing songs, recording albums, playing to crowds. But like a lot of people with dreams, I did little about it. That is until 1991, when, thanks to a friend who knew the guitar player from Metallica, I had the extreme good fortune of standing in the “snake pit”—a diamond-shaped area with a capacity of 150 in the middle of the stage—watching the band electrify the LA Forum crowd, I knew I had to take a stab at my dream.
The next week, with the help of a friend, I answered an ad in the Recycler and bought a bass guitar for $150. Soon after, I signed up for lessons at a music store on Ventura Boulevard. I learned to play Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Metallica songs. I soon fell in with a few friends—a guitar player, a drummer—and we learned a handful of cover songs and even wrote a song of our own. When I moved to San Diego, I joined two other guys and we formed a band. We wrote songs and played for friends (and ungrateful neighbors), and although we never hit it big—no record contract, no fabled tour across the country in a mini-van with our gear, I will never forget what it felt like to be a part of a band, playing songs, swimming in that energy.
Most important: I will never have to look back and say I wished I’d done something about that dream.
I will also be thankful that no one ever told me not to bother in the first place. But there are plenty of people who—for a number of reasons—believe they are helping a family member, a friend, a lover when they dissuade a person from not pursuing dreams. Apparently, dreams can be dangerous, for they give you something to strive, reach for; enable you to see beyond your present set of circumstances, and allow you to hope, a feeling that (in the best case scenario) compels you to then take steps to achieve this dream. How far it goes is not always important. But if you can quash a person’s dreams, they’ll (likely) stay put.
The Apocrypha’s “The Wisdom of Sirach,” advocates squashing dreams, for according to this Bible book, “Dreams give wings to fools” (34:1)… unless those dreams are actually visions as warnings from God (34:6).
Now, in context, these lines might speak to the notion of pursuing a way of life inspired by a supposed divinity other than God—a voice told me to… however, there’s not much context for this; instead, the counter advice is that you should only follow the visions from God if you’re being told what NOT to do. How exactly does a person verify the source? Furthermore, these lines can very easily be read to mean the way I took them: be happy with where you are in life; don’t strive, don’t want more than you have, etc. Out of all the positive life advice in this book, this feels the most dangerous, in part because it limits people, and when people are limited, they don’t experiment, challenge, test the world around them.
Without these people, would we have all the advances we’ve enjoyed in the world? Would we have cars? Would we have been to the moon? Would Martin Luther King jr. have been able to inspire a crowd with his dream of racial equality?