What Dreams May Come
Updated: Jun 15
“I have enjoyed greatly the second blooming that comes when you finish the life of the emotions and of personal relation; and suddenly find—at the age of fifty, say—that a whole new life has opened before you, filled with things you can think about, study, or read about…It’s as if a fresh sap of ideas and thoughts were rising in you. With it, of course, goes the penalty of increasing old age—the fact that your body is nearly always hurting somewhere…One’s thankfulness for the gift of life is, I think, stronger and more vital during those years than it ever has been before. It has some of the reality and intensity of dreams—and I still enjoy dreaming enormously.”
I have no dreams. Not that which come every night in REM sleep, but those secret thoughts and wishes that colour life from the inside out.
I had no idea. This stunning realization came to me last week while I was listening to an audio book by Tony Robbins. I couldn’t figure out why I had difficulty pulling out responses to some of his questions. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to answer. It was because I didn’t have the space to go to, to find the answers.
I have goals (a planning wall, remember??). I have needs to address. I have basic wants to fit in when I can. But none of this is about having dreams.
I had to sit back and figure out why I have no dreams. And more important, why I didn’t notice.
We could chalk it up to busy lives. Then we could say it was a casualty of the pandemic. Both would have merit. I was thinking maybe it was also my age (and therefore a topic for this blog) but reading the above quote from Agatha Christie on aging, that doesn’t wash.
I think part of the answer is that we get to points in life where we think we don’t need dreams anymore. Maybe we have achieved many of our former ones. Maybe we have outgrown them. Maybe we’ve had to settle in our lives because some important things didn’t work and we’ve been burnt. We are safe and okay where we are.
But goals are not dreams. Goals are things to achieve that add to our quality of life, give us pride and a sense of achievement when accomplished. Dreams are what make you feel like a kid on Christmas Eve. Dreams come from below the soul, making their way up through your cardiovascular system and flooding through your bones. They are born in and live on the absolute fabric of who we are. They are, in essence, raw and vivid expressions of us.
This month, the province allows more openings and we face our new reality. Although on the surface a semblance of normalcy is reappearing, we can feel the funhouse effect still under our feet as we slowly move forward—walking on slanted floors and looking at our reflections in wavy mirrors. Do dreams even work right now?
I remember a quote I read years ago, one that has stayed with me although the author has not: Hard times require hard dreams. Its simple and powerful truth went into my psychological back pocket. I never “dreamed” I would need it under these conditions, but at least I still have it.
Dreaming real dreams, finding what makes us stop and catch our breath in delight and wonder in its possibilities, is a muscle. We are born fit and natural dreamers. Life challenges that all along the way but we remain the stewards of our dreamer powers. For me, it’s time to get fit again, not just the body and mind that have been in limbo during lockdown but the dreamer who once walked beside me.
I agree with Agatha that life is richer, and dreams can be deeper in the second half of life. But it will take an awakening to dream new dreams in this world. A shaking off of complacency and reaction, the unspoken trading of dreams for goals. Creating hard dreams for hard times, but real dreams nonetheless.
And as we craft the new normal, we will see what dreams may come.
Those are the dreams that a Dreamer Dreams Those are the dreams That he dreams Fill you up so high So high you wouldn't come down Those are the dreamers dreams.
Tom Cochrane, “Dreamer’s Dream”