Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
-Langston Hughes, 1951
Over time, we’ve had a lot of dreams fade. Life’s details presented us with the reality that certain longings would lead us to destruction, and that another path was wiser. As we’ve grown through such times, we’re not necessarily discouraged, just disappointed. It’s happened enough times in our life that we instinctively know we will still be ok. Plenty of dreams remain alive – just not ‘the-big-one-we-always-hoped-and-planned-for’. We have plenty of small dreams: for our children, our students, our families, our friends, our marriage, ourselves, our careers. It’s the big dreams that feel more elusive: living deeply with others, loving enemies, serving and knowing people in different situations than us.
My six-year-old daughter summed it up well one night when she told me, “You know how the poor live, but you don’t know what they look like. What do they look like, Mama?”
Nothing like a kid to shoot an arrow straight to the heart.
As much as I hate the truth of it, the reality is that I’ve lived a life quite isolated from those different than us. I know a great deal about ‘them’, but I don’t know them. I’ve lived with an impression that once we arrive at the ‘big dream’, that we’d be able to do those things more easily. But love the alcoholic neighbor with the rebellious kids? Not so much.
Maybe it’s time to live in the reailty of the day rather than wait for the realization of the dream.
And you? What do you do with your deferred dreams?