March 1, 2011
A Slice of Wisdom
Recently, I was stopped in my tracks when a sister, I know, said: “I wonder if my daughter and I dream big enough?” I asked her to explain what she meant. She went on to share their dreams and also the fences that confine the dreams from reaching beyond familiar boundaries. She wondered if she dreamed big enough, because she was not able to see beyond the parameters of her immediate world, but something in her knew there was more. I am not one to sit in judgment of someone’s dream, but I couldn’t help but wonder how a dream is able to be small? A small dream appears to be in contradiction to the concept of what it means to dream. Yet, what this sister is saying is less about the size of the dream, but more about the imagination and fearlessness it takes to dream about things that are not a part of her reality– about things she did not have a point of reference for or could see.
When I think about the power of dreams and the necessity to have a dream, I think about one of my favorite books: Their Eyes Were Watching God. In teaching the book, one of the questions I ask my students is: “What is Janie’s dream for herself?” They are stumped. They are stumped partly, because some had not completed the reading and partly, because they did not think of her in terms of having and ultimately gaining and living her dream. I then ask them about their dreams. Most replied: to finish college and to get a good job. Some talked of dreams they’ve had since they were small. The vast majority could not answer the question. Unlike Janie, who dared to step beyond the fence of her grandmother’s vision of a good life and walk toward a horizon to birth an empowered self to release her dreams, these students’ dreams suffered a still birth. It occurred to me these students did not know the difference between a dream and a minimum requirement for living.
Dreams are not about limitations; they defy limitations. They defy limitations, because they are fearless. They believe the impossible is possible. There is a saying: “If you can see it, you can be it.” Perhaps all you need is some Windex so you can see beyond your current reflection to visualize the self you are able to dream into being. It means having faith that you deserve everything good, and it is there waiting for you to claim. What are you scared of anyway? It doesn’t cost a thing to dream; dreaming is free. Dreams only become nightmares when you avoid their existence or lack the courage to make them a reality. Dreams become nightmares when you realize “life is a banquet [and you choose]to starve to death.” Imagine the nightmare of getting to the end of this thing called life to find out all you had to do for things to turn out different was to dream different.
Some folks think if they just ask for a sliver of pie, instead of the whole thing, they have a better chance at getting a little taste. In this way, they will not appear greedy. I say get greedy. Get your eat on! Have a greedy dream that gives you the whole dang pie! Why settle for a little bit? God got greedy when she made this huge world. She got greedy with the shades of colors she wanted to see on people, animals, insects and sky. She got greedy with the variety of humans, their shapes, forms and imaginations. She dreamt this whole thing up in seven days and gave us minds to help along her vision. How dare I or you fall short on her dream? She showed us the power and purpose of a dream, so we could know its possibility. If you wonder if you are dreaming big enough, that is God whispering in your ear that you are not dreaming at all, because you have not tapped into the power of your imagination. Just look at the dream of her apricot, plum, magenta or teal colored skies to see that she has already showed you how—so have the pie.