This distinction between individual and collective dreams comes from the book that inspired Both types can fuse into our future, making or breaking it in terms of whether it is bright, liveable or simply bleak. 

Arctic Dreams probes many of the issues we are grappling with in terms of our relationship to the land we live in, travel through or simply explore or exploit. It’s one of the most thoughtful and engaging accounts of landscape and our place in it: soak up a mosaic of quotations in the WritingRedux review.

Lopez also questions our relationship to the past and how that might bear on the future.

Source: Barry Lopez, Arctic Dreams (London: Picador, 1987), p. xxviii

Photo credit: Christopher Campbell at


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‘The individual’s dream, whether it be so private a wish as that the joyful determination of nesting arctic birds might infuse a distant friend weary of life, or a magnanimous wish, that a piece of scientific information wrested from the landcape might serve one’s community – in individual dreams is the hope that one’s own life will not have been lived for nothing.  The very much larger dream, that of a people, is a story we have been carrying with us for millennia. It is a narrative of determination and hope that follows a question: What will we do as the wisdom of our past bears down on our future? It is a story of ageless conversation, not only conversation among ourselves about what we mean and wish to do, but a conversation held with the land – our contemplation and wonder at a prairie thunderstorm, or before the jagged line of a young mountain, or at the sudden rise of ducks from an isolated lake.’ 

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