Saturday, October 29, 2011

If You Are a Dreamer, Come In...


They're feisty, elusive little things, aren't they? Anne Shirley once said, "It wouldn't do to have all our dreams fulfilled. We would be as good as dead if we had nothing left to dream about." And yet, it can also be detrimental to our poor little souls to have our dreams constantly denied. The book of Proverbs says, "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when dreams come true, there is life and joy."

I don't know how you feel about the subject, but I tend to keep my dreams pretty close to the chest. For one thing, I know how vulnerable they are: some of the more fragile ones can be slayed by a single skeptical glance. For another thing, I tend to feel (erroneously, perhaps) that revealing them makes me seem weak, or even more seriously, that admitting I want them shows what a selfish prat I really am.

But I begin to wonder if I shouldn't hold them so close. I wonder if perhaps I ought to let them try their little wings from time to time. Because when it comes to other people, I find that I consider dreams to be among the most precious, sacred things the heart contains. Nothing connects me to another person faster than learning about their most cherished desire, even if that desire seems outwardly ridiculous. Almost always, I find myself saying, "Oh, you should!" Why? Because I believe it is important to dream. I believe it is imperative that we frail, ephemeral humans run headlong after the things tugging at our souls. How could we live full lives if we didn't?

So. Here are some of my dreams:

A wee cottage in the country...

with one of these,

and one of these,

and some of these,

where I could spend every morning doing this

and every afternoon doing this.

But of course, the dream that haunts me most looks like this:

Others I have cannot be captured so easily in images, but they linger just the same, whispering in my ear when I catch a glimpse of a sunrise, settling over my shoulders when I sit around a table with my family, brushing past my ear with the sudden strain of a violin.

Why do I bring all this up? Because I have begun to be convicted in the belief that it is of the utmost importance to encourage one another in our dreams. It's awful to see your dreams "deferred" (see this poem by Langston Hughes), but it is infinitely worse to have them scorned, discouraged, or even simply doubted. (Anyone who has ever had to explain their writing "habit" to a dubious acquaintance or extended family member understands the torment of that experience.) Conversely, the experience of being wholly and unflaggingly believed in is almost as wonderful as achieving the dream itself. When someone you love is willing to stand at your side in the face of grueling hard work and opposition, and say, "I know you can do this," you find, miraculously, that you can.

So I say to you now, do not be a doubter of dreams. Do not look into the soul of another human creature and say, "You can't." Because while it may only cause that dreamer to toughen her skin and overcome another battle against doubt, it might also break her. And this world is broken enough to be getting on with.

What say you? If you feel so inspired, share your own dreams on your blog and post a link here. I would love to come by and say, "You can."


  1. I KNOW you'll fulfill those dreams someday. Love you, bestie.

  2. Um, your cottage in the country dream is the same as mine. Only, add a couple of cats and maybe a horse. I'm hoping to retire to my family's 19th-century-house in rural SC; if you don't have a cottage by then you can come over and we can be crazy old bats together.

    And of course, I SO look forward to seeing your name printed on a real, published book someday. Perseverence!

  3. Oh Chera! I've been wondering if I oughtn't to end up in SC! From what I've read/heard, it might be my ideal climate. Maybe we can be walking/horseback neighbors and exchange fruits and veggies from our gardens, like genuine batty old ladies. Reinvent the old world in the US, and all that.

    Dreamland is taking possession of me, I must go.

  4. Deal! And with this dream to inspire me, I go to make blackberry jam.

  5. Wow. Yes. This post hit home for me, but not in a good way. When I was young (junior high/ high school) I had wonderful teachers that said "you will be a writer some day", but the input from my parents, especially my mom, was stronger and they said things like, "it's not practical", "the risk is high", "with your grades you could be (insert professional occupation here)". I was just thinking today about how much rage, yes RAGE -- that I have towards myself for listening to that and for not fighting to chase my dream. I have extended family that work as professional musicians in orchestras -- the likelihood of getting a job in an orchestra is about as slim as that of getting published, but my Uncle and my cousin both managed to make it happen. Yet I folded in the face of my mother's doubt. Again and again. As recently as a month ago. So what do you do when you DON'T have anyone who unflaggingly believes in you?

  6. Oh Shelley, that breaks my heart. I know how important it is to hear encouragement, and I know that without it dreams can wither and die. But even if I can only speak through the pathetic medium of the internet, let me say that I believe in you, and that YES, I think you absolutely SHOULD pursue your dream of being a writer. Not because it will make money (we know it won't; it rarely does), and not because it is a sensible thing to do (of course it isn't), but because you will never have peace if you don't free the creative impulse fighting to get out of you. And because you have stories that people need to hear. Please don't buckle under the discouragement. Keep your head up, and please oh please, keep writing!

  7. This was such a lovely post, Hannah! It inspired me to write one of my own:
    Keep dreaming!

  8. Dreams are important. They give us something to work toward. I have many dreams, too. I'd love a huge library that smells of old leather, paper and ink. I want to see my name in print. I want a little girl and a little boy running around the house with my wife and me, but most of all (as I admitted in my own blog post a few weeks ago) I want a beard. It's a far-reaching dream, I know, but looking like a twelve-year-old got old fourteen years ago.

  9. Faith: I love it! And yours is a lovely post as well!

    Giles: I laughed really hard about that last one... because I didn't see it coming. :) But have faith! A beard may yet be in your future!

  10. Thank you Hanna. The medium of the internet is the only place that I find encouragement -- I don't know if I could keep moving forward without it. Most of the people that I know in "real life" are very practical, not many dreamers. So I will take inspiration and hope wherever I can find it. Maybe it's time to re-read Anne of Green Gables. Anne Shirley was the first "person" that inspired me towards being a writer. Ironic that it takes so much hope and dreaming to become a writer, and then that is what you end up giving to others with your words....

  11. What a lovely blog post. Dreams are so important; we should never give them up. I fulfilled mine very late in life - to get a publishing contract and to work as a journalist. I never would have thought while I was studying journalism in college back in the dark ages that I would be a "web" journalist, but now it works fine for me.
    Thanks for sharing your dreams. I hope they all come true.

  12. I came by again hoping for more of your wisdom and hopes and dreams. Have a wonderful and dream-fulfilled 2012.

  13. Madeline, you are too sweet. Thank you for the encouragement. I hope your 2012 is wonderful as well. :)