The Difference Between Imagining, And Actually Living Your Dreams


“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.  Live the life you have imagined.”
— Henry David Thoreau 

I’ve been pondering this quote from Henry David Thoreau for some time. Time spent exploring the Tuscan hillsides, religion, love, writing my thoughts… time pondering my dreams. It’s as if each single word in this quote carries such huge weight. Two short sentences, the ultimate philosophy on life.

“Go”, whether literally or figuratively, implies movement. Moving forward, moving on, moving to a new place. “Go” is a command to never remain static.

“Confidently” is a big word, too. After all, when chasing a dream or changing a situation, how many of us actually do it with confidence? And, to that end, how many of us lacking confidence actually succeed? The act of holding your head high and believing in your goals (and the actions leading you to them) is the key to whether you achieve the things you desire.

“In the direction”. Wouldn’t it be impossible to “go” anywhere without having a direction in which to go? Knowing whether to go forward or back, up or down, east or west, in order to remain dynamic, one must always have a direction in mind.  Which relates to the next couple of words in this quote.

“Your dreams”. Those two words are particularly loaded. I’m not sure which of the two carries the most importance. As human beings, we all have dreams. Some may be outlandish and difficult to attain. Some may be small and based on day to day life.  Either way, when we cease to dream, we cease to exist. And everyone’s dreams are different. Everyone’s existence is special.

“Your” (as in “your dreams”) is really the key to this sentence. Throughout life, people will always try to force their own dreams upon you. People will want things for you or from you that perhaps you never dreamed for yourself. What would be the point in living if you lived the dreams of others? Identifying “your” dreams and aiming to “go” in their “direction” is vital in finding happiness.

“Live the life” really strikes me as a powerful statement. It implies action. Life could so easily pass you by if you allow it to go on without you. Living, doing, pursuing– not being afraid to take control of your life or grab onto your dreams.

“You have imagined”. What have you imagined? What dreams linger in your mind, often unheard? Have you taken the time to nourish your imagination, encourage that childlike tendency to dream? So often, we get caught up in the mundane, the stale situations created by putting our dreams on hold. Your imagination is like your star map… a navigational guide to a happy life.

In the end, we only have one life. We were all put here with the intention that we chase our dreams and fulfill our potential as unique individuals. Henry David Thoreau really got me thinking.

What is the answer to the really big question here? What am I doing to “go”, “dream” and “imagine”?