by Carl Friesenhahn
Dreams are hands-down one of the greatest gifts that we all have received from God. They are so incredibly integral to the achievements He calls us to achieve. Note: Here, we define “dream” as a cherished aspiration, ambition, or ideal, not thoughts in sleep.
First off, they are a way for us humans to prepare to move forward with our work and find meaning in that work. Good dreams frame our lives without giving us miniature details. They give us a goal to work towards, and listening to our dreams can help us discern what has the weight of true importance and a fleeting idea, giving us clarity. These dreams have soulful roots; we are the only species that has the capacity to dream (or, at the very least, the capacity to dream as large as we are known to do). These dreams have kept humanity constantly creating, believing, hoping, thinking, loving, doing.
Dreaming is also an incredibly meaningful experience. That almost goes without saying, but here I want to focus on the family with some stories (two of which are of my creation) for a minute. Firstly, let us take a lower-income family, barely providing for the hunger of themselves, their bills, and their multiple bosses. Procuring a one-size-too-small ballerina tutu, the parents surprise their six-year-old with the tutu for Christmas. Over the next year, even though she has little clue of being a ballerina, while she cooks hot dog stew, she is dreaming of a different life. A better life, where she can express herself in the art of dance while paying the bills. Planting that seed in her heart can bear a lifetime of fruit, even if our little girl grows out of that ballerina stage by ten and her parents never had enough money to bring her to a dance class of any sort. This could be the difference in which path she takes: cop or criminal, addict or counselor, homeless or stable.
Our next example is a boy in a high-income family. He gets pretty much anything under the sun handed to him, always getting the newest electronics. Simply put, being spoiled blocked him from being able to dream. There was no organic creativity in his childhood. He will not be able to thrive in the world of the future that demands creativity for every type of high-achieving job.
In our third example, a low-income mother paid for only one luxury during her motherhood: cable TV. She realized that she could not pay for a vacation, museum visits, or other ventures that would enrich her children and their future. So she paid for cable. She recognized that that was the best way, with the resources she is in command of, to get her children to dream. Even though I am not a fan of cable, this lady’s reasoning was that cable was the closest her children could get to experiencing this wonder. I am sure those children benefitted as a result.
Dreams must happen. What I am saying is this: dreams cannot be left to rot inside the mind. The dream must precede an action. We need doers just as much as we need dreamers. No major positive change can come about without deliberate action to change it in that way (except for those accidental inventions). Even little actions such as saying “thank you” or smiling can make a difference in one person’s day and cause them to act differently.
Dreams require nurturing and thought. I believe that it is one of the many responsibilities of a parent to nurture their child’s dreams. Plant the seed in them early; play, I believe, is integral to this process. For a child, play is the dream’s natural fertilizer. And for you, I think an internal change that could benefit is the pursuit of wonder. Seeking what is good, what is true, and what is beautiful. I do not think you have to be a child to do that. And remember: dreams, no matter how small, no matter how improbable, no matter how humble, can change the world.