The Benefits of Dreaming

Posted on Posted in Teaching Moments
Photo by Tang Junwen

Mitch Matthews and his wife started Big Dream Gatherings in May 2006 after they realized their game development dream seemed a failed venture.  After guiding friends and friends of friends through the Big Dream Gathering experience over a span of several days at their home, the introverted Mitch became an inspirational voice promoting the power of dreaming.  I have spent my life empowering other folks with my visions of their greatness while walking around a carrier of what I call “a suppressed dream gene.”

I believe that all of us were born with a dream gene.  For many years, I enjoyed time reading to children, kid sitting, and volunteering in environments focused on young children.  Through my experiences, I engaged in conversations with children about their dreams.  They dreamed of being teachers, police officers, firemen, doctors, lawyers, and world leaders.  Once the little dreamers I birthed became middle school students, I increasingly spent more time with teenagers and found the lights of their eyes dim compared to the eyes of younger children.  I asked, “Why?!”

Big Mama used to say that our eyes served as windows into our hearts.  The remote possibility that the dimmed light of the eyes of a young person represented a child living with a sad heart broke mine.  My heartbreak never fractured in a way that created an optimal circumstance for quick and complete healing.  My heartbreak for the child with dimly lit eyes resembled a stress fracture that permitted use with limited range of motion accompanied by discomfort.  Suddenly, the “why” question became “What happened?”

In my search to understand the babies in our midst gazing through shaded lenses, I reflected on my own life experiences.  I traveled back to my earliest memory of the dream gene.  About age seven or eight, I dreamed of becoming a pediatrician.  I remembered blending some type of antiseptic cream, Vaseline, and lotion (I think) to make a salve to apply to a scar.  In middle school, I dreamed of being an interior decorator.  I have vivid memories of the work it took to convince my father to persuade my mother to paint the walls in my room sky blue.  In modern times that would not be a big deal, but in the late 70’s a wall any color other than white or eggshell aroused house guests to make the following proclamations: “Oh, my!”; “Lola, whose idea was it this?”; “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a blue room.”  These were all bright-light dream moments in my life.  Then, the why and what intertwined and hijacked my dream gene.

Hijacked seemed the appropriate term for the feeling I felt when the dream of being a pediatrician left my being.  I decided not to watch families live the life I lived sitting in hospitals for days that turned into months while family members receiving care made treatment facilities our surrogate homes. Again, I felt the immediate loss and hopelessness of separation from my natural being the instant daddy said, “You can’t make no money decorating nobody’s house.” (I wrote a blog post about that childhood experience if you care to read about it in more detail: ).  The silent pressure of pain and power crept up on my dream gene poised for attack like of an out of control hypertension diagnosis.  Like the optic blood vessels in a hypertensive attack,there was a squeezing of my dream gene restricting my vision.  The channel from my heart made the journey to each dream appear further away or unrecognizable to my natural eye.

Later in life, I realized that the dream gene was not hijacked.  My dream gene was just suppressed.  Time further revealed that during the period when I was in the suppressed dream cycle, I kept employing the unique skills sets, gifts, and talents necessary to excel had the dream met my reality.  For example, I never stopped using my voice and resources for the benefit of supporting, encouraging, and enhancing the lives of young people.  And, a survey of my life from my wardrobe to the walls of my house shout color and creativity.  I have lived the dream of fixer and decorator all of my life.  This new perspective simultaneously frustrated me and excited me.  I thought, “yes,” to the creative use of my resources to live out the mutated dreams.  I thought, “yes,” to those who supported the mutated dream chaser in me because the world received benefits from my efforts.  The frustration came with thoughts of the loss to countless benefactors as a result of the limits of living life with dimmed lights for a few decades.

When my first book was published, I wise friend told me something to encourage me to keep writing.  She said something like this: For every day I waited to share my writing and my voice with others, I missed opportunities to give to the world the gift God designed me specifically to share.  So, even when it seemed like I was shouting to the wind and that nobody was listening, I wrote and I spoke. Using my voice through my writing and through speaking kept me connected with my dream even when the dream was distant or invisible.  The efforts, small or slow, moved me closer to the dream.  So, I wrote and I spoke and I moved. Movement gave life to my dormant dream gene reawakening my ability to dream and to dream more often.

My daughter once said something like, “Mom, do you really think every kid can do something great?”  I answered, “yes” with an excited smile.  The idea of helping a young person be great or inciting greatness in my staff gives me chills.  Those types of thoughts make my heart race, in a good way.  My time with Mitch and others at the Big Dream Gathering may have been the first time I felt chills, heart-racing, and tears thinking about my own dreams.  I believed that the bright eyed kid lives within me.  I am certain that a dreamer lives within my readers and that their eyes will brighten if they allow themselves to dream.  We must dream beyond the things that intentionally or unintentionally darken our spaces.

Watch out for fear, doubt, or lack of vision owned by you or others.  Look out for the historic affect of words that limited you or numbers that made things seem impossible or too late to serve anyone any good. Why is something so easy to do so difficult? Why does it feel so foreign and uncomfortable? Write down at least one dream and enjoy the light-hearted, youthful life of a dreamer, if only a moment!

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