Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.
Edgar Allan Poe
A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination, and hard work.
The act of dreaming or imagining is fruitful in itself. It opens possibilities and creates a yearning. What piques my curiosity, however, is this. Where is the dividing line between daring to dream and deciding to pursue a dream? At which point does a person go from peering into the “darkness” to getting out a flashlight and moving forward?
Why and how does this one remain a dreamer and that one become a doer? How is it that some people spend their lives wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming, and others turn it into reality?
There’s something to be said about the human spirit, to be sure. Circumstances and the size of the dream may play a part, yes? I’ve wondered how much it comes down to grit and how much it comes down to a sense of opportunity. People have pulled themselves out of poverty, put themselves through school, and developed brilliant careers. People with better circumstances have hidden in their own four walls and never ventured out. Circumstances can’t be the only answer. Is it a question of need? Desire? Vision? Safety? Faith? Encouragement? Motivation? All of the above?
When does the dream become a goal? And why? And how?
Can we teach our students to dream big if we can’t teach them to cross that line? We can teach S.M.A.R.T. goals and steps to succeed, but that alone isn’t enough. What makes them take those steps?
It’s as much a question for myself as it is for how I help others find that moment of turning on the light, lacing up the work boots, and preparing to make a dream into reality. It’s a question for which I have no real answer, only a non-verbal sense of swelling up from the depths of a soul to permeate thinking. Perhaps it is a tipping point for some, or a feeling of destiny for others.
I have this sense of “un-tethering,” or perhaps “re-tethering” from the present life to the future. That single act can be so frightening. I imagine being suspended a thousand feet up and having to risk uncoupling a safety harness from one support in order to clip it to another. Just that act would leave me breathless. Even knowing I’ve done it in the past doesn’t make it any less a moment of profoundness. Sometimes going from dream to doing feels that way.
Others, though, are more like slipping from one state to the next, without conscious awareness that it’s happening. Like falling in love or falling asleep . . . a clear transition between states of being that is only recognized afterward, and often without a clear, delineating moment between “here” and “there.” How different from those who look at the facts and then consciously decide!
An a-ha moment, a slow dawning, a firm decision, a frightening ordeal . . . what have you experienced? How does it look when you look inward? What moves you from dream to goal?
I’ll never forget my first boyfriend and his ambition “to eat meat daily”. Just because he hadn’t, back then, not every day. And I’ll always think of what he had acquired in a few years after we split, for my obvious lack of ambition: his antiquity-rich office, later his real estate Cuban business, and his Brazilian wife. Think not with longing but as an example: dreams are a precondition. After that it’s (relatively) easy.