“That’s my dream,” I overheard her telling a friend in the dressing room next to mine. “But it will never happen,” she added quietly, “I might as well forget it.” But she hadn’t given up. Not yet anyway. An unmistakable sliver of hope was embedded in the word, “might.”
The substance of her dream didn’t matter. What caught my heart was the ache in her voice. That overheard conversation happened more than a decade ago. At the time, her words reflected my own dream-struggle, barely held together with a frayed emotional tether being weakened by each rejection. I was seriously considering giving up my life-dream of being a writer.
My growing fear about that happening nudged my persistence, as a long forgotten line from the movie Flashdance, echoed my biggest worry that: “When you give up your dream, you die.” It was around that time, my husband gave me a plaque that sits on the bookcase in front of me. It reads “Dream Really Big” in bright colors. He knew, like I did, that something in my soul would die if I gave up on my life-dream.
I didn’t give up, and a few months later I got the opportunity to write for a regional magazine. Two years later, I signed my first book contract. Now I’m working on book six. But dreams are challenging to hold onto when momentum from the inside wanes, self-doubt moves in, or outside voices dampen our own. I’ve experienced these set-backs and many others.
We all have dreams. Some we keep secret, afraid to pursue or share for fear they’ll disintegrate if we do. Others we test drive, putting them away if the road becomes difficult, long, or hard to follow. And then there are the dreams, once acknowledged, that haunt us until we find a way to manifest them.
Some dreams hold the promise of new beginnings, the craziness of audacity, or hopes for a gentler world. Some are about you; some about those you love; some about people you don’t even know. But our dreams matter. The pursuit of them gives our passion meaning. It helps us navigate life, and plant seeds of possibility, imagination, and potential for ourselves and others. The pursuit of dreams enables us to share our gifts and talents, keeping us alive, in the deepest sense.
Risk of pain, disappointment and difficulties can keep us from our dreams. But in the scheme of things, what I’ve learned is that the biggest risk comes from not pursuing them. The dream size doesn’t matter. There is power in each to offer glimpses of who we are and what could be.
Dreaming your dreams can help change the life you have, into the life you want. If I can dream of a more loving life, a more compassionate community, or a healthier planet I can help make it that way. We all can. Big dreams. Little dreams Any dreams. When we pursue them, they can inspire, encourage, and transform us to be who we are capable of being, even if we don’t achieve them all.
Bottom line? Celebrate your dreams and aspirations. Celebrate your progress. And celebrate those you know who have the courage and persistence to pursue their dreams and encourage yours. After all, in the big scheme of things, I think writer George Leonard is right, “Not to dream boldly may turn out to be simply irresponsible.”