Curse of the Perfect Dream

While living abroad, we spent a bit of time in France. We lived an hour from the border so it made for an easy day trip. When a coworker mentioned her love of all things Paris and confessed her lifelong dream of traveling there, I suggested that it would be an easy trip to save for and take. “No. No.” She insisted she could never afford her dream trip.


Well turns out her “Dream Paris trip” looked far different than my time in the City of Light ever did. She assured me, if there wasn’t $1000 a night hotel rooms and $10,000 shopping sprees, the trip just wouldn’t be fun at all.

Now I’ll admit that I’m a pretty simple Montana girl who never saw the draw of a $500 purse or pair of shoes. And enjoying an amazing city like Paris, to me, has little to do with the thread count of the sheets or the amount of crap I have to haul home.

But I think that we can all fall prey to the curse of the “perfect dream.” They come in a lot of forms- from amazing trips, the cabin on a lake to write the next great American novel, or having a grand home to entertain.  I have two issues with the “perfect dream.”

  1. We can seldom afford perfect. So where does this leave us? We can go into huge amounts of debt to try to attain “perfect,” which bankrupts our future and stretches us thin. Or we go without completely. We never take the trip, write the book or host big parties with all our friends. All our perfect dreams then stay just that: dreams.
  2. Great memories/opportunities are made in imperfect situations. So maybe you can’t swing 6 months in a lake cabin to write the next Walden. What if you did your writing Saturday mornings at the local library with a thermos of coffee you brought from home?  Maybe that is where you found all your best characters, in the moments you spent people watching as you pondered the next line. Your dinner parties end up being back yard BBQ’s with 10 families, loads of kids running around, hot dogs, hamburgers and hours of fun.


Maybe the imperfect ends up being better.


Two girl friends and I took a bus into Paris for a day and met up with a friend under the Eiffel tower. He brought a few great cheeses, some fruit and bread, a bottle of wine, and we talked and laughed for an hour with our little picnic. We wondered around the city for hours, spent some time in the Louvre, and ate a few creeps. I didn’t bring home a pricey pair of shoes from that trip. But it was a hell of a good day.

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2 thoughts on “Curse of the Perfect Dream

  1. That sounds like you have created a priceless core memory!

    Experiences do not need to be perfect planned, there needs to be room for the unforeseen, those special funny moments.

    • I have taken so many amazing trips, but the best stories- the ones that are told over and over again- are when things went horribly wrong! When the tent collapsed under the weight of snow. The time I got salmonella food poisoning in the Philippines. No one wants to hear about amazing hotels or great dinners. The night we were too cheap to stay at the youth hostel and ended up in a karaoke bar for transvestites. That is a good story. And a great memory. I feel bad that people miss out on all the imperfect adventures. They really can be the best. Thanks for stopping by again amber tree!