there used to be dreams unbidden, effortless the heart and the mind roamed all the wilds like a fearless tiger hungry and alive in every stripe of the tail eyes wide open at the top of a cascade of falling water or the parapet of a castle pennants snapping over snowy mountains
there used to be dreams irresistible, compelling every muscle aching, dripping with sweat and laughter rounding each new bend whether frigid with cold or loose with fatigue sandpaper skin soft as a cool mist
there used to be dreams they came from nowhere and everywhere driven by instinct, unbounded nature’s children first and always inside the man-built confines stop to feel the frantic beating heart between us insistent, full we could dream again
downy feathers weave themselves into the nest holding ever closer the needy hatchlings tended with devotion their unquestioned cries answered again and again until the day comes when the dream bears fruit
the heart beats dreams into existence
the hatchling loves herself enough to noisily demand sustenance and knows love inevitably speaks to that demand she aspires, bolder every day, without doubt, to her wholeness
but what of unanswered cries? what of the lone and tired shadow gathering food in a barren terrain? wandering in a dreamless pause searching with the hatchling’s faith when dreams refuse to come the heart pleads
The early morning, still dark and star-strewn, makes the space for dreams — the wisps of the inscrutable ones begging to be deciphered, and, too, the waking dreams of substance, dreams of the heart, the aphrodisiac of aliveness.
These are the dreams that make us more of who we are, who we must become, as surely as a tender sprout must one day flourish with extravagant blossoms whether seen or unseen by human eyes.
Some of us are happily, if not easily, driven by those dreams. For others, we must allow ourselves to notice them— these dreamy sprouts — then nurture them.
Our dreams prescribe wholeness, not careers or salaries. Especially in a time when we are more and more reduced to and perceived in our roles as commodities, we must dream, and go there, even if in bits and pieces. There is nothing inconsequential about it. Do not look to the status quo to place a value on your dreams.
Dreams, big and small and in between, are crucial to our own lives, our social underpinnings, and to the globe we trod. They are not defined by the marketplace. The shapes and colors and sounds of our dreams make our world shine with love and creativity and freedom, irrespective of what can be bought and sold. They assert our very existence. Dreams are revolutionary.
If dreams die, if we forget how to dream, we must see it for the existential crisis it is. We must find our way back to dreams any which way we can.
It may mean finding a guide or a friend to help, or it may mean revisiting childhood dreams and experimenting there, or it could mean learning something entirely new to break the hold of the entrenched thought patterns that trap us in our dreamless state. It could be a new language, or a craft, or a place, a history, a skill, that turns out to be the trigger that allows our dreams back into our lives.
We must try, because dreams must be. Dreams are fundamental to life. And when we fan the flames of our dreams back into existence, we must tend the fire. Dreams hold our gift, to be cherished and honored in love by all. The world needs the revolution of our dreams more than ever.
The birds begin to sing before the light comes. The voices reach me through the windows opened to the soft rustles and creaks of the dark hours. They pierce the magic time of furtive shadows, clear and urgent and free.
Is it song? Or is it speech? Is it utter joy? Do they call lovers, call children? Do they call me, call us, call all?
The strain oscillates through the air, an abstraction, cryptically enfolding me. The darkened space in which I lay irresistibly expands to the trees, the skies, the stars. I flutter up to the birds and sing with them the chaotic anthem of our souls. No beat, no refrain, no syncopation, no rhythm at all but we thrum with the cadence of life.
The birds begin to sing before the light comes. They sing the primal language, the one we all know. My feet and hands speak it, the tongue of the breathing earth, the pulsing star. We are all there together, for that brief moment before the sun snaps its fingers before our eyes, at the feral edges.
So dreams will have to do for now. Imagination defies the story to which we have agreed. Later, I will remember what we all know to be true, and sing again with the birds at the outer fringe of night.
A man told me a story once. Jack was in a wheelchair, having suffered an accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down. He told me that, after his accident, he became profoundly depressed.
A therapist asked him to remember what his dreams used to be. At first, he couldn’t recall any dreams. Then, at his therapist’s urging, he remembered that many, many years ago he used to dream of learning to fly. The therapist encouraged him to chase that dream, in spite of his depression.
Jack started to take flying lessons even though he had little interest. He just went through the motions at his therapist’s persistence.
Eventually, though, it began to click.
He not only learned to fly, he got his own plane, took folks up in it for discovery flights, served as the president of his local flying group, and founded a nonprofit. In the process, he completely overcame the depression and did not allow his disability to stand in the way of living a life. In fact, he was a very active guy and looked pretty darned happy to me.
I always remember Jack and his story.
Our dreams are so powerful. And yet, we so frequently just shelve them as unrealistic, or too expensive, or ridiculous in the eyes of other people. But we ignore our dreams at our peril – for our dreams are the key to the doorway of our soul, and the secret of making ourselves whole.
I remind myself of Jack because once again I must look at the way I’ve ignored some of my own dreams. They are hard to recall – just like Jack first responded to his therapist’s queries. And yet, I suspect, those hazy, forgotten dreams are just as essential as ever.
I don’t care how kooky they may be, I really have nothing to lose by going for them.
And that would, of course, be the thing, to finally go for them.