In the well known book ‘The BFG’ by Roald Dahl, the BFG character, (who creates and delivers dreams), says that ‘dreams is very mystical things’, like they are enshrouded in some kind of mysterious mist.
This has been my exact experience.
Dreams are different from ideas somehow. A dream is like an idea which is just out of reach, something not yet realised, that has yet to become a reality. Because of this dreams are fragile and easily broken. A plus side to this is that dreams are adaptable, malleable, they take surprising twists and turns. I remember watching the film Inception, which is very intense but marvellous, all about inserting an idea within layers of dreams. In my life I can identify what the inception is for me, where my dreams stem from, even though their path may be hidden and unforeseeable. This helps when some dreams never make it. It doesn’t mean the inception wasn’t valid or important. The inception is what draws you on, helps you find a new way, to dream a new dream.
The opposite of this drawing movement, is some kind of external driving force which intends to bend and chisel you and your dreams to meet their need. I recommend avoiding this driving motion at all costs.
Poet David Whyte has some wisdom to offer here. He has this poem called Start Close In. The first lines go like this:
‘Start close in
Don’t take the second step
Or the third
Start close in’
I read this as; start close to the inception of your dream, for there you may find what is the next courageous step you can take.
Like the kid who tells you they want to be an astronaut one day. This is the BIG DREAM. The BIG DREAM that makes a lot of assumptions.
The fulfilment of these assumptions will determine whether they are one of the few kids who manages to attain this BIG DREAM. This will depend partly on them and their ability, but also on their health, and the advantages given or withheld, doors opened or closed.
But we don’t tell them this.
Because the path towards the BIG DREAM is full of smaller dreams which slowly draws the dreamer on and onwards. We somehow, in this pursuit of a BIG DREAM, end up gathering a motely crew, our collection of smaller but necessary dreams which we carry with us. Some of these dreams are intact and shiny. They sit along side a similar number of shattered dreams which rattle about in the bottom our suitcase. Those who manage to reach their BIG DREAM some day, endure a lot of hardships on the way, but perhaps are also the recipients of a dash of serendipity.
Right now I am left wondering what dreams matter at this time? The message from society at large seems to be to dream big and do something significant. Put an inspirational quote on a mug and crack on. Like we all have to make our lives count. And there is of course something to be said for that. But all this significance can be a bit overwhelming, especially if you find yourself in a place where your dreams appear tiny or simple from the outside, but seem insurmountable to you. And yet this is the only dream that matters.
For it turns out that all dreams matter, no matter what their size. We need to ‘tread softly’ as we walk together, for we tread on one anothers’ dreams, like some kind of sacred ground (W.B. Yeats). Sometimes my kids wake me in the night right out of a dream. The dream is rudely interrupted and I cannot get it back. I would not wish to interrupt anothers’ dream with my misunderstanding and poor judgement of how important that dream is.
The chances are that as we get older we are able to realise, establish and fulfil some dreams. We therefore may find ourselves sitting on the ‘hoped for’ dreams of others. Like we have two or three friends on whom we can depend, or our teenager is at home and free from psychotic episodes. Or our partner is well enough to speak again and hopes to restart work at the local café, or we finally have enough finances to relieve that dead knot in our stomach. May we have sensitive ears to hear the dreams of others which often come like a prayer, as sung by Slow Moving Millie ‘please please please, let me get what I want, Lord knows it would be the first time’.
Any BIG DREAM is only possible on the assumption and maintenance of lots of other dreams. If we take the sporting arena as an example I can imagine there have been athletes we have never heard of because they almost made it. But then their Dad got cancer or their best friend had a breakdown, or their partner lost their job and they could not make ends meet. And so this dream was over. But another one began. The one where they put another first, the one where they followed their heart to its core, to where ‘everything became a you, and nothing was an it’ (W.H. Auden).
I was once given a note which said ‘Do not give up on your dreams because of the time it will take to accomplish them. The time will pass anyway’. I am reminded then to give dreams a bit of room, not to over -control and direct them. Like the grasses in the fields which have been allowed to keep on growing increasingly tall and wild. Growing, not because they had targets to attain, but that when left awhile they grew anyway, so much so that when you lay down, you are lost in them. Perhaps there is occasion to embrace all we are faced with for the fathomless mystery that it is, so time and healing can be unshackled in the mist and our dreams can grow anyway.
And so as we gently tread on each others dreams and try and navigate our own, may we adopt David Whyte’s wisdom and ‘start close in’. May we muster enough courage for our next step towards the inception of the dream that draws us on.
A poem to the kid astronaut
‘You may get to drive a rocket to reach the moon,
You may collect broken fragments of dreams,
You may get to travel great distances,
You may be drawn to travel
the most important journey of all,
to the inception of dreams
that reside in your heart.