Friday, May 22, 2009

What are your dreams?

At times it seems we view the world desensitized—desensitized to other places and other people. Luckily, if we seek new experiences we may be presented with an opportunity to re-sensitize ourselves to the world we live in, and the life we lead. This process is as if someone rips out your inexperienced eyes and replaces them with a newer, wiser pair.
I received my first pair of new eyes from a young girl in Zambia, Africa. While visiting a village I found myself surrounded by a number of young girls and we began a conversation. While amongst my new friends a girl standing next to me asked a simple question: What are your dreams Juel? I opened my mouth to respond but to my surprise, I stood there with my mouth open wondering what I was supposed to say. I looked up and saw her bright eyes looking into mine—deep black mirrors reflecting my own stunned expression. What did she mean? Did she want my career aspirations, life goals, or my future family plans? I stood there looking at her and stupidly repeated the words ‘um’ and ‘uhh’ over and over again; I wanted to take off into the brush and join the wildebeest for how confused I sounded. And yet, here I stood, surrounded by anxious girls waiting to hear what I had dreamed. I suppose I am used to reciting the quick 5 second version I’ve had memorized since I was 8: Graduate high school, go to college, start a career, get married, have a family, blah, blah, blah. That’s what everyone else says and does, that’s what I’m going to say and do—so standing in a barren field I told the girls my barren plan.

Even before I finished my one sentence future I realized it didn’t count and the group’s saddened eyes reflected my own disappointment. Here were girls who grew up wanting the lives of pilots, doctors, lawyers, professional cooks, architects, etc—so what life did I want? What are my dreams? It’s a simple question. And not only is it simple but it should be the very foundation of my life. My dreams should be written on my bathroom mirror, engraved in the dashboard of my car, doodled in all of my notebooks, and etched into determined lines on my face. Dreams should be the motivation to wake up in the morning, the sunshine when life gets dark, etc. When life becomes dreary your dreams should be the one thing giving you the courage to carry on. So, I realized…..I’m in trouble.

How many of us truly have dreams? Do the education and career goals we all have qualify as true dreams? Or is college and a real job just the next instruction in our project of life? What is it we truly want deep down inside? What makes fighting for the future worthwhile?
After some thought I realized I do have dreams—and I’m excited to fulfill them. I want a graduate degree from an Ivy League. I want a pilot’s license. I want a black Thoroughbred gelding and a chocolate Labrador Retriever named Pilgrim, or a blue Great Dane named Pax. I want to travel the world and learn its languages, meet its people, and write their stories—and along the same lines of writing comes one of the most important: I want to write something people remember. But finally, I want to receive so many sets of new eyes that one day, I’ll be able to give someone else a new pair.

As the psychologist Csikszentmihalyi said "For better or worse, our future will be determined in large part by our dreams and by the struggle to make them real." Happy Dreaming everybody.

1 comment:

  1. This is a great post, Juel. I would be interested in hearing more about your experiences in Zambia sometime! It sounds like you had a great time and learned a lot!