“I will not stand by and watch as you forgo your dreams.”
Wow, right? Those words would be powerful in any context. Imagine you are sitting in a crowded theater, with popcorn butter smeared on your fingers and a heartwarming duo on the screen, pronouncing those words to each other as they embark on some crazy Walter-Mitty-ish adventure. You turn to your date with a look of knowing. Or, you’ve reached the climax of that book you read on the bus with your mocha frappe latte in the other hand, and you know after a line like that, you might just have to set your coffee down (unheard of!) to flip the page.
Surely, those words would cause a stir in any literary context. But, imagine this… They were spoken to you by a friend, at a time in your life when dreams seem as far-fetched as the next day you could rise without a battery of alarms set for the crack of dawn (do days like that exist?). They were spoken with sincerity, and an odd light-hearted “Oh, you’ll see!” certainty which somehow made you believe them that much more.
Talk about an “Oh, duh!” moment. My own little Eureka.
Crazy, to think that words like that would even need to be spoken. Crazy, to think that the idea of forgoing our dreams for the pragmatism of the status quo has become so commonplace. But how many of you read those words and wished you had someone there to give you a nudge like that? How many of you closed your eyes for a second and thought of the very dreams you have allowed yourself to forgo?
Many of us have good reasons for putting our dreams on hold. And, to be fair, some of us are not given a choice. I have met many people in my generation who have had to reimagine their big-picture plans due to job offers, families, injuries, and other life events that seem to pop out of nowhere. As you’ll notice, some of life’s little “interruptions” are quite pleasant! Maybe life has simply reshuffled the deck, and you’ve traded the dream you planned for a serendipitous alternative… but, still a dream.
Admittedly, for me, that has not always been the case. I can’t tell you how many times I have nearly talked myself out of the things I wanted most. I didn’t pick up guitar for years because I thought the learning curve would be too steep. Never did I let myself imagine I could pursue a career in the Parks & Recreation world, doubting my inner introvert’s capacity to network or become a leader. And then came the dream of hiking the Appalachian Trail. Who was I kidding? That takes years of experience! I’d never get there.
But, doesn’t it all start with a first step?
Expressing these doubts to someone dear, I was countered with the line you read at the beginning of this article. The only things keeping me from these dreams were myself and the doubt I have harbored for as long as I can remember. I don’t know why that insecurity is so closely associated with our opinions of ourselves, wrapped around our self-esteem like a coarse and angry vine. Self-doubt is draining. When do we first learn to question our aspirations? When do we learn to see our dreams as unlikely figments of our imaginations? Castles in the sky, as it were.
For too long, I have been my own limiting factor. Not anymore. No matter how stressful my days become, I have chosen to adopt the mantra that nothing can come against me so long as I am in pursuit of a dream. What could be more resilient than a heart bolstered by such faith? If you truly believe that you are limitless, how could any setback seem like more than a passing blow?
I am going to bring my castles down to Earth, and create very real foundations beneath them. I encourage you to do the same. Why have I been given these castles? Surely, the answer is not to gaze at them from the ground with a shrug and a cast-away sigh. No. I have been made a dreamer because I am meant to believe in the impossible journeys and inspire others to do the same.
What would you do if you didn’t believe in the word “impossible?”
I am sure we are all familiar with the effervescent rush of adrenaline we feel watching movies and reading books in which other people come alive and seek their dreams without restraint. Why should that be rare? Why shouldn’t you feel that rush first-hand? How excited we are to live vicariously. But, when did you last wake up excited to live? My guess would be that it was the last time you rose and thought to yourself, “I am living the dream.” Find. That. Again.
If you don’t have a dream in the clouds, create one. If you don’t believe you can get there, change your attitude or find a new dream… But don’t forsake castles in the clouds altogether. Anything you have ever admired about this Earth of ours began as a dream. Your friends were dreams to their parents. This country was a dream to its founders. The nature lying in wait beyond your window was the dream of God. Don’t you want to be part of the next wave of wonders?