Or rather, ask Sergio S. Bambaren, self-proclaimed 'Poet of the Soul' and (oddly enough) Texas A&M alumnus who abandoned chemical engineering to live in his native Lima by the sea and write about dolphins. Well, one dolphin.
Daniel Alexander Dolphin (no relation whatsoever to Jonathan Livingston Seagull; how could you even think that?) is the only dolphin in his pod who has ever had a dream. He wants to leave his narrow-minded, rule-bound and ambitionless pod behind and swim to the furthest reaches of the ocean to surf that perfect wave. Because he's a Dreamer, the Spirit of the Ocean and, inexplicably, a manta ray, send him on this quest because, if he surfs the perfect wave before the end of the forthcoming eclipse, he will restore the ability to dream to the entire ocean! Which of course he does. Everyone can pursue their dreams!
I haven't read the book, and if it's anything like the recent direct to DVD movie of the same name, I really, really don't want to. The movie was puerile, with a ridiculous mess of a plot, loads of completely unnecessary characters and really, really unfunny jokes. My son loved it, naturally, but he's five and thinks fart jokes are sophisticated comedy.
It's not the media, though, lousy though that was. It's the message. Near the end of the interminable movie, there's a scene where the sea creatures come across sunken pirate ships and piles of gold coins. Ben Kenobi the Manta Ray tells them that the coins are why sea creatures call humans 'Forgot Their Dreams'. Then in a masterful and subtle use of symbolism, they all taste the coins and agree that they're inedible.
Have you noticed that the people who are the most ready to tell everyone that they need to escape the soul-deadening values of society are the ones who are most financially able to actually do that? Bambaren's biography makes it apparent that he wasn't exactly begging by the side of the road after he bravely gave up a lucrative career to become a soul-poet. Richard Bach, the author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull, had already written four other books and wasn't suffering financially ss an off the grid bohemian. It's very easy to talk about the evils of money when you don't need it, and how stultifying society is when you can afford to ignore it. Bambaren is far from the only person who abandoned a previous career to become a writer, but he's the only one who thinks he's an extra-special snowflake anarchist because of it.
I readily agree that striving to be good to one another and to achieve our dreams is a better goal than pursuing wealth for the sake of status or material possessions. But personally, I prefer the philosophy of Michael Caine, who used the wealth he earned achieving his dream of acting to give his family better lives, and then to achieve his dreams of having a beautiful country house with a big garden where he could grow vegetables. And he doesn't think he's more special than anyone else. I like his movies better, too.