The origin denotes an unsavory history of imperialistic exploitation and deserved degeneration of culturally unseen and unforetold consequences; of an encounter between foreign soils bridged by greed, necessity and inevitable destinies, but where the conqueror reaped more than what it sought. In the opium dens which followed and the devastation of addictions ensuing, the phantoms derived from the processing of a plant which otherwise concealed the deadliness of its essence, beautiful in its floral toxicity amidst the sweet aroma that diffusely pervaded an unsuspecting population — dreams, indeed, of unreachable heights and great expectations otherwise squandered.
It is from that 19th century term — of the wafting scent of doom combined with the forgotten troubles of an industrial age, when repressive measures could be meted out by colonial strength, and insulting terms denigrating the humanity of an entire population could be thrown about by the lowliest of the low, and yet with superiority by race and ethnicity merely because one nation conquered and took advantage of the subservient nature of a quietude yet open to a coming storm.
In the end, who were the victors and what vestiges of the vanquished remained — only the untold stories of unmarked graves, whispering by twilight of plunder and portage of cultures; for, is it the country which invaded, or the one who imported the pipe dreams which subjugated the populace to an addictive essence?
In modernity, of course, the term itself has been shed of its subjugated past, and merely connotes an unrealistic expectation, a pursuance of a dream devoid of pragmatism, and a picture of flightiness attached to those who express such creative dimensions of unconstrained exuberance. Children and the insane have them; and perhaps, still, those who partake of illicit moments of addiction and self-abuse. But reality is always where we meet again, and the loss of time, efforts and futile exertion of wasted energy ends up back to the proverbial “square one”; what we squander in labor, we make up for in foolishness.
For the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker who must daily be challenged not only with the workplace hostility of repetitive annoyances, but further, work with a medical condition which progressively deteriorates and diminishes the Federal or Postal worker’s capacity and ability to perform all of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal positional duties — pursuing a pipe dream that it will all just “go away”, or that tomorrow the medical condition will miraculously heal itself, or the day after the harassment will cease: these are mere phantasms of a hope diminished by reality.
Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is an acknowledgment that the Federal or Postal employee is no longer relying upon a pipe dream, and has taken a pragmatic step towards facing the reality of one’s situation.
In the end, a pipe dream need not be a mere vestige of a lost culture steeped in the wayward historicity of timeless depravity; for, as the past continues to haunt both individuals and the greater society, so the words which follow may describe a regeneration of that which was once forgotten, but still remains in the residue of unvanquished sins.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire