The moon is not a star

Something about this particular quote has always puzzled me and I don’t think I quite agree with it.

Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.
—Les Brown

I can see why people are motivated by this quote as it implies that you shouldn’t despair or give up, but at the same time, it’s almost telling you to expect failure rather than saying, ‘it’s OK’. It’s sort of implying that even if you miss the moon, you’ll be OK, and at least you got somewhere. (This post is an interesting take on the quote.)

The thing is, a lot of people deliberately set themselves up for disappointment simply to avoid being in a slump if things don’t go as well as they had wished. It isn’t necessarily the same as setting the bar lower, but it’s something that humans do to feel good about themselves in a cautious way. It’s like trying new things. A lot of us don’t want to go all out, so we change one small thing at a time.

It works for habits, it works for lifestyle changes, it works for learning things.

But it doesn’t work for dreams.

What is a dream?

What is a dream? Well, I’ll be damned. I’d be lying if I said I knew exactly what a dream was. But this is what I do know. It’s not the fact that you wanted to be a vet when you were six years old and imagining yourself as an adult. It’s not that early-bird way of life that you are struggling to try and work towards. It’s not that thing in the back of your mind that you want to do one day but aren’t really doing anything about.

A dream is not just one object

A dream is not just something you want to do, or a kind of person you want to become, or a place you want to go, or the journey you take getting there.

Most people can say what their dream is in one sentence. A dream encompasses all of the above in a complete state of being. You know why you want to be there. You know what you want to be. You know who you are going to be when you achieve that dream. You know when. Maybe not exactly, but you know that it will happen some time in the near future, be it a couple of months, a year, a couple of years. You have it all planned out, down to the days and to the smaller bits and pieces that only you could possibly care about. It’s your dream. You have it fleshed out in ways other people find unimaginable. It’s time spent dreaming the dream.

The moon: Our dream as a construct

The moon is what you aim for. But why aim for just the moon? Just because you can sum up your dream in one sentence, doesn’t mean that you tie yourself to that one important sentence.

So why the moon? I’m not saying that you should aim further or bigger. I’m not saying you should go for the Milky Way or Jupiter. It’s not about distance or size. When man landed on the moon, they landed with the moon as their destination. Just the moon.

The moon is a construct. It’s a construct for the one sentence that sums up your dream. It’s your dream expressed in one sentence as one object. It’s impeccable, beautiful, everything you could ever want. It’s perfect. But you know that that’s not all there is to it. It’s not just ‘I want to live in San Francisco’, or ‘I want to be a geologist’, or ‘I want to have written a book in the next five years’. Your dream is much more than that. It’s got infinite possibilities. It’s a web of paths, a series of hardships, a lot of potential, and potential downfall, and it’s pain, gain, emotions and strength. It’s self-discovery, a journey, a whole story to tell. Your dream is a network of all of these nodes.

So forget the moon.

If you shoot for the moon, it’s already out of your reach.

The moon stops being a dream.

You lose your dream.

Shoot for the stars

Shoot for the stars, because that’s where the dream is

I always tell people, ‘Shoot for the stars’. That’s it. To just do it. Nothing else, just shoot for the stars. No measurement or distance or a why or how.

Just ‘Shoot for the stars’.

Remember your dream?

It’s that state of being.

You know why you want to be there.

You know what you want to be.

You know who you are going to be when you achieve that dream.

You know when. Maybe not exactly, but you know that it will happen some time in the near future, be it a couple of months, a year, a couple of years.

You have it all planned out, down to the days and to the smaller bits and pieces that only you could possibly care about.

It’s your dream. You have it fleshed out in ways other people find unimaginable.

It’s all of the above.

And that’s why your dream is in the stars.

Leave a Comment

Comments on this post

This was too deep, Georgie. ;-;

I prefer shoot for the stars because stars are on fire and will probably explode. The moon is cold and bland and boring.

Profound words, Georgie. I like ‘shoot for the stars’ also. 🙂 I’ve never liked the original quote.

On a slightly funny/dark note there is that meme/joke which says, “According to astronomy, when you wish upon a star you are a million years too late. That star is dead. Just like your dreams”. Lol. It never fails to crack me up! 😆

I have to say I disagree in some ways; I have a fascination with the moon. A construct, as you say, that is so close to us and yet still in the 21st century is somewhat of a wonder and remains out of reach for all but a few.

I think the original quote is also saying, hey it’s okay to shoot for the moon (idea one) but you might land in the stars (idea two/there/four/etc)… At all points in our lives we want and desire one thing, but quite often we find ourselves on a different path or journey to what we initially planned.

I love your writing, however! Glad I found your blog.

Thanks for your thoughts and kind words, Rebecca! When I was younger I was fascinated with the moon as well, but now not so much. I illustrated the notion of dreams in my own way but I’m sure other people have their own way of thinking about it too – whether they involve celestial bodies or not. 🙂 I would say similar quotes like the one I mentioned are open to interpretation.

Really inspiring read for me to start a Monday with. I always say dream big, because that can be taken however a person defines as big. If you are dreaming, you might as well dream as big as possible. As long as you acknowledge ever small success along the great journey then you won’t get lost, caught up, or obsessed with the dream. I like the saying dream big because dreams always have a goo ending, just sometimes it may not be the direction we plan it out in. To be open to reaching success regardless of how the story is written is something we as society have forgotten. I really love your interpretation though! It is really inspiring and you are right, it sounds better.

‘Dream big’ is definitely one of my favourites. I am glad I could inspire you a little. I have to admit that I only started to think about my dreams and aspirations recently, and I only realised just how many small successes we can potentially have along the way. 🙂

When I was younger I was quite a dreamer. I aimed high, and went for it. But when I started college I hit a rocky spot in my life and I started aiming low so I wouldn’t be disappointed. I hit a similar point in my life recently when I was looking for work. However, once I got my job and realised I was about to start a new chapter in my life, I sat down with my notebook and wrote down some goals for the future. I’m definitely shooting for the stars but if I go beyond then that’s a bonus. 😉

I really feel you on this one. I went through that rocky spot in university as well and sort of went downhill. Even through my previous job (that I left in June), I didn’t feel that motivated after a year and a half. I felt like I was aiming pretty low, playing it safe, without even challenging myself. Only in the past couple of months have I really begun caring about career growth (that’s something I want to touch on in a future post, haha). I’ve always known you to be a hard worker so keep at it because that puts a smile on my face. 🙂 It’s lovely to see people caring about their career even in early days, and I admire that.

I always say that you should dream and even if you do get some disappointment, it helps build up that dream further up. You shouldn’t give up on your dreams just because you get stuck or hit a bump in the road, that you shouldn’t be happy to just settle in life. Go do what your heart desires and not waste your life on things you don’t like or care for. Life is too short for you to be scared of disappointment or sadness. Don’t aim for the moon, aim for space and whatever that is in it. Aim always high for yourself. Never let your dreams die. That’s really how I feel about that quote. Sorry, I kind of went a little overboard 😆