A friend of mine recently told me that although he has dreams for his life, he had learnt to be realistic, and not pursue them. He went on to explain that there were people who tried and tried but never succeeded, and that it was easier to ignore his dreams and settle for where he was, rather than face the disappointment he felt was sure to come. Often when this happens, people one day forget their dreams even existed.
Assuming we have positive parents, we are encouraged to dream from a young age. We ask kids what they want to be when they grow up, and praise them when they have answers like astronauts or ballerinas or (throwback to my youth) adventuring archaeologists. As we get older, whether on purpose or by accident, we learn to limit ourselves. We aren’t smart enough, so our engineering dreams are placed aside for a more realistic option. There are bills to pay, so a 9-5 is more stable than self-employment. Almost no-one reaches the pro level, so Saturday night is spent at the pub watching the latest football game, rather than playing it.
Everyone has their own reason for postponing or neglecting a dream, but the outcome is the same. The failure to pursue our dreams relieves us of the risk of failure, but at the cost of never truly having lived. We have our dreams for a reason, they are a voice for our dharma. Our dharma is our purpose, and our connection to something greater than ourselves.
Our dharma and our dreams are all unique, and our dreams evolve with time. What we want for our lives at 10, 16 and 35 will be different at each stage. But what you may find is a common theme amongst them, a thread of freedom or adventure or love or expression. That thread is what we are here to craft.
Calling ourselves realists may seem easier than dreaming. It makes sense to avoid the disappointment we felt so acutely in the past. To spend our lives avoiding disappointment though, is to spend our lives never pursuing anything at all. Life is supposed to have ups and downs. Our fears, disappointments and regrets are way-pointers for the direction of our lives. The bitter taste of disappointment can turn to poison, or it can make future success just that little bit sweeter. The choice is always ours.
Failure is normal, and it doesn’t define you. The pursuit of what you love, however, in spite of doubt and fear speaks to the resilience of your soul. Dare to dream, and believe that the life you truly want to live is possible.