Hold on to Your Dreams

By Michael R. Czinkota

Yet thinking new or unexpected thoughts is disquieting to some. For example, I still dream of living some day in a castle. To many friends and neighbours, this is one of those silly dreams which should have been shed decades ago. Sometimes, when I describe my castle, people even get openly hostile, declaring such thoughts to be outlandish, wasteful and reflective of delusions of grandeur. They tell me that spending even a minute on such ideas takes away from productivity and is a giant waste.

But I’ve discovered that I may not be alone. On occasions when I mention castles, I see eyes light up, reflecting dreams remembered and imagination recaptured. The voices might be slightly lowered, but the intensity of the conversation picks up. Sometimes we even repair to the internet and do some searches.  Entering, for example, “Schloss Verkauf” under Google brings up the hunting castle in Magdeburg, the castle with the moat near Berlin, the family castle from the 16th century in Bavaria.

There are many more in Austria, Switzerland, France and Italy. Some of them come with an ante-castle area of large proportion. Many have the requisite tower, the horse stables and the huge gate. Then there are those with bordering forest areas or vineyards. Some are fully restored, others need some help, but they all require loving, tender care – if only because preservation regulations require it. The price typically seems reasonable or even low when compared to real estate prices in many of the metropolis.

I am told about the deleterious effects of a castle. There are the terrible tax burdens, the upkeep and maintenance nightmares, the isolation and the total excess of space. Forests may mean that one has to pay for a forester. Woods will have to be scouted regularly for infested trees. The deer population will have to be managed. Who shovels the snow in winter? All so true.

But then I think of my youth, when dreaming about special things was not out of reach, but rather part and parcel of life. Over time, not too many dreams of childhood have been preserved. Yet the move to a castle is not an introverted return to the olden days, but in its own way a new, pioneering action. A new environment, an entirely different set of challenges, new neighbours, combined with history and closeness to nature.

It’s also a new perspective. Castles by their very nature tend to have a far-reaching outlook. Typically they are built on top of a hill or even a mountain, with the tower reaching well above the trees. After all, you want to see who is coming up the road. Just as the climbing of a mountain lets you see vistas never taken in before, a castle gives an overview. A castle reflects promises of safety and freedom. There is an aura of peace and a welcoming of guests. A certain ampleness is also built into castles. There is the knights’ room, the salon, the dining hall and, of course, the ballroom. What a feeling of open space!

As time flies by, in many societies one is encouraged to settle down, which means to settle for what we have. Contentment eliminates pain. But it also pours concrete onto our limitations and focuses us on the low end of the horizon. By contrast, sleep research tells us that dreams help sustain life. Perhaps even God was dreaming when he did his creating.

Castles are not easy. Even the Bavarian King Ludwig, who built Neuschwanstein, the model for later replicas by Disney, learned that harsh reality. When he built too many castles, he was deposed and, some say, murdered. I think that we all need our castles. We’re all born with some, we drop them often, but there is a time to have our dreams return. A castle can be our defiance of time, our dedication to life and culture. You don’t have to be a king to dream; but if you get your castle, you will be a king. 

Michael Czinkota teaches international business at Georgetown University in the US and the University of Birmingham in the UK.

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