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6 Lessons from the Dead Poets Society: A Manifesto On Living Your Dreams

We've entered a new decade recently, from one that was something out of a dystopian novel. But there are things that we can always be grateful for, like some classic movies for example that we have, more often than not turned to during these unrelenting periods of isolation.

The Dead Poets Society is a poem in itself. For someone who has always had a penchant for writing, it read like an elegy to me; On Expectations and Dead Dreams.

John Keating, the clichéd English teacher that we've almost always had in our schools, is someone we crave to learn from in real life as the movie progresses. He doesn't merely win the hearts of his students but that of the viewers as well.

Dead Poets Society: Neil Perry and John Keating, some quotes.
The Dead Poets Society: A Collage of Life.

Here is a list of things that I learnt from this beautiful rendition to dreams and their importance:

1. Life is too short to not act upon your Dreams.

A petal that falls to the ground, withers away in an abandoned corner; this petal is the dream that you gave up on a long time ago. Some flowers only bloom at a certain stage. There is but a moment's thought, an act of embracing them that stands between daydreaming and reality. Why do we dream? I think this is a question that we need to ponder upon. Is it just to pass the time or to put in effort and morph this passage into a garden of full-fledged flowers? It doesn't have to be a perfect garden because the dreams that we visualise often take a different shape, one that compliments our intricate lives. You can be a writer, an artist and a singer; all you need is that little push, a leap of faith - in yourself and in your dreams.

2. Friendship & Love: Vital ingredients to the buffet of life.

Those shared tears and laughter are poems that bind friendship and love into a cycle of warmth. One should never wait to catch up with these things and instead give in to the moments as they come to them. The tide of time can never be reversed and so, it's only sensible that 'needing' companionship isn't a sign of weakness. It is rather human tendency to depend on those they trust. So, don't try to control or misjudge this tendency, let it grow towards the people that love and care about you.

3. The powers of words is Unbreakable.

'Words' - a five letter term that has the capacity to change this world, yes. Does this mean that somehow when I write a poem on climate change, humans would suddenly start caring about the environment? No. What it does refer to though, is the influence that a speech can have on a classroom filled with young boys, how it can instill bravery, strength and the willpower to achieve their dreams; within them.

Words have a magic of their own. One small mindset that's changed, alters the course of your life and your world. We are interconnected in ways we don't understand. But words have the power to transcend through that distance and reach out to us. John Keating's speech transcended through our screens and touched us in unforgettable ways.

4. Communication is the key to Understanding each other.

Neil Perry, an ideal student and a son, soon discovers that his passion lies elsewhere and that it doesn't align with what his father expects of him. But when his father remained unconvinced, it led to dire consequences. He makes a decision that leaves everyone devastated. It wasn't really the lack of communication that caused it. It was the lack of understanding that should precede that communication. We are not a product of our parents' dreams and as important as it is to fight for our dreams, to voice our concerns in front of them; it's also important on their part to see us as independent individuals capable of making the right choices. An iota of faith can go a long way.

5. Poetry is the Essence of Life.

What more can I say than this? Dead Poets Society is a poem. It takes all the vagaries of life, even death and presents it in such an eloquent way that if you are consumed by the visuals and the dialogues then you will find yourself laughing and crying out loud with the characters on screen. You live their struggles & joy and you drown in their confusion and sorrow. The greatest takeaway here is that this life is your poem and only you have the right to decide the order of its stanza's, the rhyme scheme that connects with you and the form of its existence. The readers will have a myriad of opinions but you are your biggest critic.

6. A change in Perspective is important.

Do you often feel stuck? Like your life isn't going anywhere no matter how hard you try? Consider standing atop a table and doing the exercise that John Keating teaches his students. A change in perspective can turn your entire life around. Try looking at the same old mundane things with a different view. Because sometimes the change that we're looking for isn't a new job, a new city or a new person; sometimes it's a change that we need to bring inside us and in the way we see this world.

These six lessons come to my mind when I think of the Dead Poets Society. I'm sure there are many more that I haven't articulated in the list above. But the most important thing is to absorb the good things in life - in the words of John Keating, 'Carpe Diem! Seize the day' because one single day represents how the rest of your days would be manifested.


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