Do you dream? I don’t mean the kind of dreams where you’re left wondering, ‘Now where did that come from?’ or ‘I’ve got to stop watching those Teen Wolf re-runs.’ Scientists will tell you that dreams are subconscious concepts that play out involuntarily and that we have no control over them. They’re probably right, but those aren’t the kind of dreams I’m talking about. I’m referring to the kind of dreams you nurture from as far back as you can remember, the ones that you’re afraid to discuss because people just won’t understand. Those dreams, the ones that are influenced by our waking lives and also influence our lives in such profound ways, are the ones that really matter.
Now some thoughts I’ve been pondering over are, how many of us actually realize our dreams? I mean, what percentage of us actually pursue a dream and see it till it materializes? What happens to those dreams if we ignore them, suppress them or banish the thought of ever achieving them? Are we brave enough to fight for our dreams against the negativity of the herd?
History is littered with examples of people who have overcome innumerable obstacles to fight for what they believed in and to achieve their dreams. But what about each of us? What about our small, personal dreams and aspirations? Are they any less important? Absolutely not! And yet, we are so quick to brush them aside and get caught up in the familiar regularities of everyday existence.
Some years ago I read a powerful poem called ‘Harlem’ by the American poet Langston Hughes. Though the poem was written during the Harlem Renaissance – a politically charged time in history, this seemingly simple poem encapsulates a deeply profound thought – what happens to unfulfilled dreams?
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
Letting go of dreams may seem like a relief at times. You don’t have to put yourself out there anymore; don’t have to listen to the negative people, no risks involved, and no more hard work. It might seem like the easy way out. But I believe that no matter how far back you push them, no matter how much you ignore the little reminders that pop into your mind when you least expect, those dreams will come back to haunt you.
This summer my aunt passed away suddenly after a brief illness. She was only fifty years old and it left me contemplating on how short life can be for some of us. The next few days went by in some serious self scrutiny. I remembered that there are hidden away in the recesses of mind, little dreams that I feel are gradually fading. I don’t know if I will ever be able to realize them all, but what I do know is this – much time has been wasted and that the more I procrastinate the slighter the chances are of my ever seeing those dreams come true. I want to be able to look back and say that I did everything I could to chase those dreams because, I know my unfulfilled dreams will not be forgiving and I don’t want to look back in regret.
I know each of you who read this will have at least one unfulfilled dream. Maybe it is to achieve some level of distinction in your work place, to travel the world or to sing in front of a large audience (this however can be easily achieved these days with the number of reality shows we have) but, whatever it is and no matter what stage in your life you’re at, I think there’s no time like now to try and make your dream come true. You don’t have to wait till New Year’s Eve to make important commitments to myself – it can be done right now.