Wishes, Dreams, Desires, Plans and Goals

Day 270 Week 40 Q3  Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Pirates by Howard

Yesterday a friend asked several New Yorkers on Rosh Hashanah, “What do you desire in this new year?” 

Dan R. followed this with “How are desires different from wishes, dreams, goals, or plans?”

These seemed like excellent questions to ask, especially to creative outliers, so here we go. To my mind, desires seem more immediate, as in real-time right now. Plans and goals seem longer-term. And wishes and dreams feel more ephemeral. Maybe these just strike me this way, so let me explain. 

Wishes seem a little lightweight to me, as though if they do not come true, that’s okay because there are a lot of other things going on. Dreams feel a bit more persistent and, therefore, a little harder to let go of. Plans seem to have something to do with scheduling, commitment, and resource allocation. And goals, well, they are definitely long-term and require serious commitment. Then there is the impact of identity or self-image. When goals are not consistent with who you think you are, they will probably not happen. For example, you have been out of shape for years and have the goal of completing a marathon in a little over two hours. This is not going to happen. Or say you are a broke eighty-year-old creating a plan to accumulate ten million dollars in the next three years. Well, good luck. Wishes and dreams do not raise the alarms to me that crazy plans and improbable goals do. 

Here we come to desires, and they do seem to be more serious because they seem to be more emotionally loaded. If you desire something, I think you are going to try harder to get it or accomplish it sooner than your dreams and wishes. At least I would. For me, desires seem to be more emotionally relevant than plans and goals, which feel more rational and well-considered. Wishes and dreams also seem a little more emotional but with a lot less attachment. Desires seem to require care and feeding if they are to play a role in your life. You probably have to touch bases with your desires to keep them alive. It feels like they require some continuity and, more than that, some momentum. Desires do not seem as intermittent to me as the other words.

Also, there is probably a continuum where dreams become more explicit wishes and turn into plans which are attempting to reach goals, but if there is no desire in the undermining, I think the likelihood of passing through these stages is less. Let me describe a recent and slightly crazy desire which has come to me recently. And try not to laugh; remember it is neither as pragmatic as a goal or a plan, nor is it as ephemeral as a dream or a wish, and yes, a little bit of back story is required to understand this desire.

My desire is to become a singer-songwriter jazz artist accompanying myself on five-string bass cello. Yes, I know; when you hear the phrase singer-songwriter, it does not bring to mind jazz artists, and who ever heard of a five-string bass cello? Not me.

Yet I have such an intense desire to do this that I have a five-string cello arriving tomorrow with a built-in pickup so it can be plugged into an amplifier for performance, and no, I do not know how to play the cello or any other instrument tuned in fifths. Although I do have a ton of performance experience on keyboards and guitars, with plenty of improvising going on, and in recent years have begun to sing fifty years after believing this was impossible for me, even I admit being a singing bass cello player is a bit of a stretch. But I am a creative outlier with plenty of life experience doing improbable things. And by the way, what do I even mean by a bass cello, after all, there are cellos, viola da gambas, double basses, bass guitars, and electric basses, and some of these have frets, and some do not, like the cello.

Okay, here is the line of reasoning, not that you asked, but you might find it interesting or at least potentially illustrative of what fuels desire. First of all, if you are a composer, as I am these days, your chief concern is getting your pieces performed. If you are capable of performing them yourself and have even a moderate amount of charisma, the likelihood is astronomically higher that you will hear them performed. In these only slightly post-pandemic days being a solo act or, as I call myself, a monsemble makes it so much easier by eliminating the latencies ( time delays) musicians attempting to sync up on the internet experience and also by eliminating a lot of competition. Now there are what seems like millions of singing guitar players and keyboard players but very few singing bass players, although of course Paul McCartney, Sting, Jack Bruce, Chris Squire, John Lodge, Geddy Lee, Esperanza Spalding, Timothy B Schmit, Bootsy Collins, John Paul Jones a couple of dozen come to mind. But have you ever heard of a singing cello player? Even a single one? Well, I found a few on google but never heard of any of them.

Most jazz improvisers can not sing or do not want to, and most cellists can not play jazz or jazz bass lines, but what if one were to put a fifth string on a cello and it was lower to get into the bass range? Yes, there are issues that will come up.  Cellos are tuned in fifths and guitars are tuned in fourths, and cello notes that deep will not sound loud enough to be part of an acoustic jam. So, yes, you need to mess with different fingering, different strings, amplification, and equalization in addition to the other musical obstacles. Ok, I said I was a creative outlier which is the reason I like to hang with other creative outliers.

In any case, this is not just a wish or dream, and I will not dignify it by calling it a goal with a plan. However, it is a well-formed desire which will be great fun, highly differentiated, and, I hope, musically explosive. And therefore, I am going for it. 

Ok, you creative outliers, have you ever found yourself fully engaged in some activity that did not make sense to most of the world? Of course, you did – that is the definition of being a creative outlier, so you get it.

See you on the other side of the bass cello.