For many months, I have tried to solve the never-ending question…
“Why do we stop dreaming?”
When we were younger, we were all given an assignment on our dreams. Not on what they would be, but we had to name them. Do you remember? My teacher went around our first grade classroom and gave us an assignment that had very simple instructions. I remember the type of paper we used — the kind of pale, brown thin paper that would rip if you tried to erase ever so softly. This paper had many lines on which we could write on the bottom half and we could draw our picture on the top half of the paper. How many of you remember too? We were instructed to create something from nothing. It would be graded. Maybe even worse — shared with the class!! But we had a dream. We knew exactly what it looked like, how we would get there, and why we wanted it. We were proud of our dream, no matter what it looked like, how we would get there, or why wanted it. Some of us wanted the same things…some of us wanted something different. My dream at that age was to be a professional athlete. It was the first time, my heart soared and I always felt most alive when I was playing a sport — whether it be softball, soccer (short-lived — I got tired of getting kicked), or tennis. I was very good at a very young age and I wanted to follow in the footsteps of Babe Didrikson Zaharias, a women who excelled in every sport she participated in, including the 1932 Olympics. She could not only run track and play basketball as well, but she also was a seamstress and harmonica player. She could do it all.
This dream did not just disappear after I had finished the assignment. In fact, it grew. As I got older, I developed into an excellent tether ball court player, usually was picked first for the recess kickball team, and won the free-throw contest for my age. After I went on to junior high, I played softball, basketball, and tried track for a bit. I could run half a mile with no problem, but didn’t love “the run” like I do now. In high school, I continued to play basketball and softball, and picked up tennis in the fall. By then, my dream of being a professional athlete had faded away with the years just the words written in pencil had. No time for dreams now.
How many of us are steered towards a dream that isn’t our own?
Math and science were not my strongest classes in school, although I did get good grades. I enjoyed history because it always sounded like stories to me and believe it or not, I actually liked to write. Even then, I knew I could write. I just never dreamed of being a writer. No, my goal was to get to college and start doing something with my life, even if what I was doing, wasn’t something I wanted. I have a degree in Political Science, as I had decided to be a lawyer. I was good at seeing both sides of an event, but really wanted to do more research than be in a courtroom. I never went to law school and never took the Bar Exam. I have no desire too, either.
What was your dream when you were little? What is your dream now? Chances are you still have that dream. Maybe your dream doesn’t look like you thought it would. No one from Sports Illustrated has contacted me to do a story on this over 40-year-old woman who hasn’t played anything for quite some time. My dream has changed. Has yours? Why do we detract from our dreams?
Our dreams fall away because our dreams are not practical!
Dreams are no tangible until they become reality and there are no guarantees! We could put forth a lot of time and effort into something that never happens. There is no logic behind our dreams, and yet they will live much longer than any career ever will. There are many people out there who do not believe in the possibility of dreams. But each one of us has benefited from a dreamer. EVERY ONE OF US. Our lives are different today because someone made improvements yesterday. The possibility of flight, GPS capability, and even Disneyland all came from people who were dreamers. There are skeptics and doubters along every road every dreamer ever takes and they will follow us too, just hoping that we will fail. They get their greatest glory from not having been a part of something great but by instead wanting to be the first to say things like, “See? Told you it wouldn’t work.” and “Look at how much time you have wasted to have nothing in the end.”
I think about all the athletes everywhere that try every four years to represent their country on the biggest stage ever, with the entire world watching at the Olympics. My mind drifts to the national competitions that are held to select the countries’ very best in every sport….if you spent countless hours, thousands of dollars, and devoted an entire lifetime to a dream, only to never see it come true because you don’t get that chance to go to the Olympics, every one of us would have loved the ride. We would have appreciated the support and love for the people who always believed in us and supported our dream too. Thousands of people will never make the cut in whatever their sport of choice is and many that attend will still go home empty-handed, without medals. History may be made in an instant, but it took many moments before to even get to that point.
So, what do you want to be when you grow up? What do you still dream about? If you could begin a dream right now, what would it look like? Pull out a piece of paper and write it all down and then sketch a picture of it. If you can’t sketch like me, go to Google and print something like it. (We didn’t have Google or even the internet when we had this assignment in 1st grade.) Dreams will keep you reaching for something more…will keep you focused and determined. You can see your future, disguised as a dream. Who cares if it doesn’t make sense to someone else…it makes perfect sense to you.
Maybe I can’t be a professional athlete anymore, but I can still keep in shape. I can try hard every day when I push myself to be the fittest person I can be. Although my dream looks a little different now, and my purpose is more self-fulfilling than I have ever dreamed, I understand the reason dreaming isn’t for everyone. But dreaming can be…
Dreams are full of adventure, with no promise of a good outcome. They are frustrating at times, and yet can fill you like nothing else ever can. Our hearts will break at the dream lost, but the journey wouldn’t have happened without the prospect of the idea in the first place. Our dreams live. Whether they come to fruition for others to see is the only way that imagination becomes a way of life. Then, and only then, will the cynic be silenced forever. Because the cynic has now become a believer in everything that is not practical. Show people how. Dreaming never has to end just because we get older. In fact, dreaming just gets better as we get older.
Be the dreamer you have always wanted to be!
Michelle A. Homme 2014 ©