Are you one of the dreamers?
Some people are happy to take the world as it comes, to be satisfied with life as it unfolds, and to sleep soundly at the end of the day with a kind of contentedness that settles deeply in the soul.
Unfortunately, I am not one of those people.
Sometimes I wish I were. I can’t help myself from always looking ahead to what is next and trying to make that next thing fit the vision I have in my head. Being visionary is one of my major strengths, but also one of my curses.
Visionaries, by definition, are dreamers- seeing in their heads what does not yet exist in the world. There is a desperateness in seeing something better, knowing that you can’t help but strive towards it. It is an endless cycle of seeking, planning, and relentlessly working towards something that exists only in your mind and in your heart.
If you are a dreamer, you have constant visions of what could be. Your visions won’t let you sleep at night. They haunt you. In confident moments, you feel like you are going to reach them. Remember Tantalus, the character from Greek mythology? Tantalus angered the Gods. His penance was to be forever tortured. The Gods dangled food and drink in front of the starving man. Just as he got close enough to taste, the visions were yanked out of his reach.
Our visions are tantalizing.
It is a given that the world is going to knock you down. There will always be challenges. Creating something you see in your dreams is hard work, if it wasn’t, every one would do it. It takes strong faith, and unwavering belief in yourself. It is easy to lose confidence.
Dreamers can live a lonely life. People think you are a malcontent, overreaching, or just plain crazy. I went to grad school full time while working full time and spent more money than I had to get my Ph.D. I got tenure, and then promptly quit my job as a college professor. Go ahead, call me crazy. You wouldn’t be the first.
I don’t regret it. The degree or the quitting.
We bought a big old mansion once. It was more than we could afford and it needed a lot of work. I could see that house in my mind, not as it existed, but as I knew it could be. Every single person in my life told me it was a bad move. All my friends, my parents, and our financial advisers said to run from it. It was a crazy undertaking, a money pit, a bad investment.
I loved that house. That alone made it worth buying. We doubled our money when we sold it a few years later. Somehow, I managed to make the the vision in my head reality.
When it works out, it is magical.
Lately, I have struggled with the visions I am working on. I wonder if I am writing words that no one will read. Does any of my work really matter? Will I contribute, in my own small way, to making the world a better place? I work really hard, but for what?
There is a cold, dark place in my mind, a place that says to give up, to shut down, to be content with what I am given in this world. How dare I ask for more in what is already a successful life? Who do I think I am to aim bigger, to try for something even better? I should be content with my sweet little cottage, to walk over and sit at the beach, watch the sunset and read novels. It is a good life, enviable even. Why can’t I leave well enough alone?
But I’m not wired that way. I know that the only thing that will stop me from trying to make the visions in my head my reality is when my final breath has left my body. Perhaps dreamers can never be content unless they have a vision to make manifest.
It can be difficult to find other dreamers. They stop talking about their ideas, stop sharing them publicly because it is easier that way. Why face ridicule when you can work quietly? Then, when they make their visions a reality, people marvel at their overnight success. If they only knew.
Sometimes, however, we get a glimpse into the heart and soul of a dreamer. It is inspiring to know that there are other dreamers in the world.
We recently saw the move The Greatest Showman. The young boy Phinn, who grows up to be showman P.T. Barnum, sings about his visions in the song A Million Dreams. I sat and cried. I think whoever wrote the song was trespassing in my head.
Cause 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 its gonna take
A million dreams for the world we’re gonna make.
A couple of years ago my cousin Cindy and I had a conversation about our song of the year. I wrote about that conversation and my song that year, in Walking on Sunshine. I wasn’t planning on having a song of the year this year, but I guess it found me.
Are you a dreamer? Do you have visions that beg you to bring them to life?
You can live in a world that you design.
It only takes a million dreams,