I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
A dream is a wish your heart makes.
When you wish upon a start, your dreams come true.
Every night I lie in bed
The brightest colors fill my head
A million dreams are keeping me awake
I think of what the world could be
A vision of the one I see
A million dreams is all it's gonna take
A million dreams for the world we're gonna make
As I was recently reading Why Does This Keep Happening to Me? by Alan Downs, I was inspired by a chapter about dreams. Today, I am living my own dreams, and through various service positions, I have a part in realizing the dreams of others. Some excerpts from this wonderful chapter are:
Our dreams are our teachers and guides, helping us discover more about ourselves. Sometimes what they teach us is that we really don't want what we think we want. On the path to our dream, we may discover something unexpected that pleases us even more than our original dream. Those wonderful opportunities can make us happier than our original dream ever would. Some dreams come true, and some do not, but without dreams we have no compass for our lives.This is what a dream gives us: a journey. A dream isn't a destination at all, it is a process for living. When we refuse to dream, we begin to lose our way and our hope in life.
Dreams are only ours to hold for a period of time, and then we must let them go. If we cling to them they become like yesterday's manna--they rot in our hands. Dreams are meant to guide our lives, not to be our life's destiny. They take us by the hand and lead us along life's path, and when they can no longer be of service to us, we must let them go.The best dreams always die. Our dreams will never last forever; they all eventually die and new dreams rise up to take their place. Part of the resolution of this crisis is learning to live in the present and to savor today's dreams. They are wonderful guides given to you for a very special purpose. Consume your dreams wholeheartedly and take every bit of inspiration that they can give, knowing that they won't last forever--better yet, knowing that they will eventually be replaced by tomorrow's equally satisfying and exhilarating dreams.
Where is your dream taking you, today?
I have had many dreams throughout my life, but they have always seemed to revolve around certain themes: the arts, seeking knowledge, helping others, being a leader, and striving for greatness at whatever I do. At various parts of my journey, I have been ashamed of these elements, but today, I believe that I am constructed this way for a reason. When I embrace my gifts and my ambition in positive ways, I am at maximum effectiveness and usefulness to my fellow man.
When I was a child, my greatest dream was to leave Four Oaks, North Carolina and find a way to be myself. I wanted to learn as much as possible, see the world, and live in a city. Classical music was a way of discovering myself, and it was also my ticket out of a small town and eventually to Houston, my forever home.
Throughout my twenties, my dream was to be a successful musician, a dream that was more about my own unmet childhood needs than service to others. However, it allowed me to see the world, have incredible opportunities, make powerful connections, and establish credibility that would allow me to pursue the new dreams that came once music faded.
In my mid-twenties, I started working with teenagers and emerging adults who were trying to get sober from various addictions. I did it for free, and yet I found it ten times more exhilarating than my career. I felt that pursuing a career in the arts was removed from reality when so many people in the world are suffering.
So a new dream emerged. My new dream was to quit travelling for work, to live in one place, to pursue a career in social work advocating for teenagers and young adults, and to embrace a life based on connection with others. My dream was to find meaningful work in Houston and create a community, family, and home in this city that is my refiner's fire.
I assumed that the fruition of this dream would be clinical work with LGBT teenagers in private practice, but I secured an internship at a school in HISD which morphed my dream yet again. I work with 25 teenagers, and I began to see that although the details of each students are different, they all have similar root causes. These similarities led me to a new dream: pursuing public policy. I feel like I am helping people out of a hole as a counselor, and I want to use a career in public policy to fill in the hole so people quit falling in the hole to begin with!
My past career in the arts has become an integral part of my work with these teenagers, because it is often an artistic discipline that give these students the most dignity and sense of self. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states in Article 29 that "the education of the child shall be directed to the development of the child's personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential." In Article 31 it declares that we "recognize the right of the child to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts. States Parties shall respect and promote the right of the child to participate fully in cultural and artistic life and shall encourage the provision of appropriate and equal opportunities for cultural, artistic, recreational and leisure activity."
The most fulfilling part of my internship has been connecting students with resources to more fully realize their dreams. Under this model, anger issues can become political activism; depression can be reduced through engagement with meaningful interests; grades improve when students find a passion they want to pursue which requires a college degree; and self-esteem, sense of place, and dignity emerge as people become a part of something greater than themselves which is a positive force in the community and in themselves.
I am currently working to create a non-profit which will help place teenagers and emerging adults with the tools and resources to find their dream and pursue it. When I was a teenager, I struggled with depression, addiction, and self-worth. Music was my way out, it was a positive force. It was my dream. In Downs' words, it was something that guided me. It was my compass. I believe that providing a way for adolescents to pursue their dreams will decrease crime and addiction and improve our sense of community in both measurable and invaluable ways.
Today, my dream is to help others find and pursue their dreams. In my current state of mind, it seems to be a pure and noble way to spend my time and energy.
What is your dream?