Dare to Dream and See What Comes Up

By Kevin M

?We don?t realize how much hope drives our lives. When hope is gone, life looks a lot different, a lot darker.?–David L. Heller (1913-1992), a cherished friend and mentor

Somewhere along the path of life we lose our dreams. Life rolls along, we have responsibilities, bills to pay, obligations?we ?grow up?. Over time, that all becomes our reality, our place in the universe. We get used to it, accept it, go on, and tell ourselves that all is well. When the economy trips and falls, pulling most of us down at least a little, the abandonment finds its? greatest justification as we rally to cope with the crisis at hand.

And what of our dreams, our best hopes for our lives? Oh, their there somewhere in the recesses of our minds, we just don?t think about them so much?there just isn?t time.

But there?s a problem with that: take away our dreams and hopes and life becomes a rote exercise, a process of going through the motions. There?s no more big picture, and life become a process of filling the hours, punctuated by intermittent incremental improvements.

Is that the way life is meant to be?

Some might hold that the more pragmatic life we settle into by default is ?just the way it is?, but I?d argue against it. Dreams aren?t just a fringe aspect of our personalities, a place where we go to take refuge from the troubles of reality; they represent our aspirations and help define who we are, and more important, who we can become.

Many aspects of our lives tend to be static: height, eye color, place of birth, the family we?re born into, race, ethnicity, where we went to school, where we grew up–all markers of who and where we are at a moment in time.

In total contrast, dreams represent the dynamic side of us, the people we hope to become. Take that aspect of us away, and there?s little progress, no rising above to be the better selves we can all become. I?d wager that all progress in human existence, whether individual or collective, started with a dream for something better.

Any attempt to better oneself, to enter a new career, to go for a promotion, to lose weight, to marry, to have a family, to invent something new, starts with a dream for something better, something higher. It?s what separates us from living as the animals do, surviving each day but dreaming, hoping, aspiring for nothing better.

Maybe we need to back up

Since our dreams are that important, let?s work at rekindling them if we?ve lost touch with them, or of nurturing them if they still live in our conscious minds, and do so without reservation. Our futures may depend upon it.

In an attempt to reconcile our present lives with the perfect life of our dreams, let?s try a three part exercise to elevate those dreams to a level of relevancy.

1) Imagine your Perfect Life. What would you have if your life were perfect? What kind of work would you be doing? What would you be doing to entertain yourself? What would you be doing to have an impact on the people around you or even on the world? Lay it all out here, no one else will see this!

2) Make a list of all of the positive elements of your Perfect Life. Within the context of your Real Life, categorize each element from your Perfect Life as a. doable, b. possible, c. unlikely, and d. impossible.

3) Implement as many of the positive elements of your Perfect Life into your Real Life as you can. Starting with those that are doable, begin adding them to your Real Life.

Sound impossible? Let?s take a closer look.

Putting it all together

In Step 2 we list and categorize the positive elements of our Perfect Life, sorting them in order of compatibility with our Real Lives. To shorten the list to it?s most workable dimension, take the ?Impossible? list and put it aside for now. We want to work with the most relevant elements first; if one of your dreams is to be a professional basketball player, but you?re 50 years old and only five feet, six inches tall?that one will have to be reworked a bit. We?ll get back to the Impossible list in a moment.

The Doable list is what we need to concentrate on first. These are the components of our Perfect Lives that can most easily be blended into our Real Lives. Are they worth it? If they are, start blending. Even if the elements are small, the most inconsequential items on your wish list, implementing them can be downright liberating!

Add enough Doables to your Real Life, and the Possible list might start to look even more possible! Work on ways to add as many items from both lists as you can. Even if the items on the Doable and Possible lists won?t bring you to your Perfect Life, they will get you closer to it. More important, it?ll also give you the incentive and the courage to keep the direction going.

The Real Dreams

The Unlikely list is where implementation will get more difficult. This is most likely because this is the list containing some of the more daring elements, the kind that will move you out of your comfort zone and into your Perfect Life. But begin implementing from this list and in all probability, you?re now moving directly into your dreams.

Now, let?s revisit the Impossible list. This list probably contains your highest dreams?which is why they seem impossible from where you sit today. In fact they may not have been possible at any time of your life, but that doesn?t mean they have no relevancy in your life.

True, on deeper analysis, some goals on this list may have to be tossed. But others may be worked in on a reduced level. Getting back to our professional basketball player example, maybe that dream isn?t worth pursuing if you’re short and over 50 years old, but it still tells us something.

You aspire to be athletic, to be competitive, to be part of a team, and those are not only positive goals, but they?re also doable. Maybe you?ll never make it to the NBA, but you could join a team in an amateur league (or get one started!) and join others with similar aspirations. That in turn may cause you to work out regularly, to improve your game, and all of that is worthy of doing. You don?t get a professional contract, but it gets you away from the widescreen watching others perform, and out performing yourself. Not your perfect dream, but closer to it than you are right now!

The basic idea is to reinvigorate those dreams you have (or at least used to have). Ever wonder why youth is so optimistic? Yes, some of it is most definitely based on ignorance of ugly reality, but more likely, it?s because they have dreams. And they believe that they?ll actually live those dreams one day.

Are your dreams worth moving into reality? Start working on it, and life may start being fresher, newer and more worth living again.

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