Dreams are on our minds a lot these days, not the ones you have when you are sleeping but the Big Ones, the ones you latch onto when you are young and wish to come true with all your heart and soul.
If there are young people in your life, I’m sure you have heard about their dreams and have counseled them to Follow Their Dreams wherever they take them. Life is Short, we say, Don’t Give Up on Your Dreams.
I can recall conversations around the family dinner table with my parents, and I’m sure you do too, telling us about how they didn’t have the opportunity to follow their own dreams, but they wanted more for us, a cherished gift they wanted to bestow. They tell us how they wanted “better” for their children -- an education, college, a fulfilling job, a career and also a happy family and children.
So we embraced their dreams -- and more especially our own -- as we moved through life. Dreams of being a rock star or an astronaut or a professional athlete or a journalist working for Life magazine.
But I guess it won’t shock you to know that no matter how much I wanted it, I won’t ever sing like Carrie Underwood. I won’t hit a home run in the bottom of the ninth to win the World Series. I probably won’t walk on the moon, ever have enough money to buy that beach home and set up shop under an umbrella, or write The Great American Novel.
Even though we worked hard, kept our eye on the ball, a lot of our dreams didn’t come true, or at least not the way we thought they would. But if we look closely enough we will see that the paths we took for a certain dream led us in a different direction, and maybe even a better one if we really think about it.
I have these same thoughts about unfilled dreams when I see performers at almost any level of the performance arts. I am always amazed at how much talent is on the stage at any moment, yet, most of the time these are not the performers who are at the top of their field, where I’m sure they always wanted to be. But it hasn’t stopped them. They continue to work hard and move forward.
They are a good example to the rest of us because it follows that we should be proud of what we have accomplished. It may not be exactly what we envisioned for ourselves around those dinner tables years ago, but that’s OK. We may not have become a movie star, but we have passed on our love of the theater to our children. We may not have walked on the moon, but we have made strides in our workplaces that have improved the lives of those who work there.
And as we Baby Boomers know, it's never too late to follow your dreams.
The next time you see the fire in a young person's eyes as he or she talks about their Dreams, I hope you will encourage them. They may change their mind about what they want along the path as they pursue their passion, but like us, that may be what they were after all the time.
By Teresa K. Flatley