You’re still young, so we’re sure you still have plenty of dreams. That’s not to say that we, your elders (hey - some of us are barely thirty!) have lost the ability to dream or no longer have any good ones. It’s just that, after you’ve lived a number of years out there in the real world, you’re certain to experience a good deal of disappointment. Even if some of our dreams have come true, others have idled or fallen by the wayside.

Of Mice and MenCredit: ShmoopIn Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck shares the story of a couple of dreamers. George and Lennie start out with the highest hopes - they are on their way to find work and easy money in the land of opportunity (California, not Vegas - you’re thinking of the land of opportunists). Although poor and just starting out, they haven’t a care in the world and have not yet let the possibility of failure enter their minds. To be fair, Lennie doesn’t let much of anything enter his mind.

Lennie is the epitome of hopefulness. For starters, he’s a little, er, well... he’s not at the top of his AP English Language class, we’ll put it that way. Okay, so he’s a little slow. But his dreams don’t suffer for it. He has grand designs for a boatload full of puppies and rabbits, and for owning a ranch on which he can live and take care of all of them. George’s dreams, on the other hand, revolve mostly around Lennie. Although he can sometimes act harshly toward him, all George really wants is to see his best bud happy. He is envious of his friend’s childlike, boundless optimism, and it inspires him. George, too, longs for that ranch, but he almost wants it more for Lennie than he does for himself.

However, one thing after another goes wrong (like in that recurring dream you have in which you’re taking the PSAT and you suddenly develop a case of bubble-filler’s elbow, then pass out from heat exhaustion) and that ranch starts to seem further and further away.

Although they (well, George at least) start to realize that their dreams are steering dangerously off path, they stubbornly hold onto whatever thin sliver of hope they can muster. Even to the bitter end, Lennie is still looking off into the distance, envisioning all of his dreams coming true, even as an angry mob closes in on them.

So as you read this, O blissful dreamer, dream well and dream hard, but don’t be afraid to let your dreams morph gradually into something different than what you initially expected as you go through your life. Because you don’t want to be blindsided when your best friend fires a Luger into the back of your head.