By Laura Mills
This summer I’ve done all kinds of neat things—like attend a yoga retreat, spend a weekend downtown as a Chicago “tourist,” install granite countertops in my kitchen, reorganize my basement, master Mandarin Chinese, learn to play the banjo, and drive across the country—in my mind. That is to say I’ve daydreamed over and over that I made these things happen. Some of these things I’ve even wistfully discussed with friends, making them all the more delicious. Yet as of this moment each remains, well…unfinished. Some even remain un-attempted.
Yep, I dream big. I make lists with lofty headings like “Things I Want To Do This Year” and “What I Want to Accomplish.” Yet more often than not the items on my list remain on my list. Even the small steps towards accomplishing those items remain. And when I look at or think about my list, I feel sad and silly for being all talk and no action.
It’s not that I’m lazy or unmotivated…far from it. But I am intimidated.
After all, dreams and goals are scary. Not only do they represent the unknown that lies ahead, but also they require that we muster our abilities to act and follow through. And acting on a dream or goal is hard—it requires energy and acceptance of whatever changes the acting sets off. Following through is even harder—it requires loyalty to the dream or goal, even when circumstances get tough and the desired outcome seems impossible. Frankly, for me, these days I feel quite unenergetic and definitely unwilling to persevere with anything that’s not absolutely necessary.
I don’t believe the solution is to dream less or to dream smaller. Rather, the solution is a rethinking of what’s really necessary. Not a cross-country vacation or the mastering of a new language…but dreaming, itself, is necessary. The wish to do more, see more, be more, know more. As long as we have dreams—even unattainable or unrealistic ones—every breath we take brings more hope to the world. Realistically I may never learn to play the banjo, for example, yet my dreams about it cause the opening of doors in my mind that I didn’t know existed and that very well may lead somewhere amazing. Any open door is hope. And hope never, ever hurts.