A quick look in my dictionary tells me that a dreamer is either:
A visionary. An idealist. A prophet
A habitually impractical person. An unrealistic person. A person who lives in or escapes to a world of fantasy or illusion.
Yes. That sounds familiar.
The dreamer is the one who can’t seem to keep her feet on the ground. She’s the one with the enigmatic smile, her gaze locked on a horizon visible to no one but herself. She has vivid imagination, for sure. Her visions are grand, but of little use in the real world.
Dream on, we say when someone aims for the unreasonable. Come back to reality.
This rhetoric around dreaming is misleading and sometimes downright condescending. We need to grow up, it says, see life for what it is and not escape into fantasies about being happy all the time. Good Lord. Really.
From that standpoint, going for your dreams is an unnecessary (silly) luxury, a suitable pastime once you’ve retired, after you’ve pulled your share of the weight. If you can still remember what you used to dream about. And if you don’t have anything better to do.
But there’s another way to speak about dreams that is just as misleading.
The fluffy focus on the reward waiting at the end of the rainbow. The self-help inspired rhetoric about finally taking the leap! To go for it! From here on everything will become better and better! ’Cause I’m following my dream! (Carpe Diem!)
Well, let’s calm down a bit, shall we.
I live a life that is all about dreams, my own and other’s. I spend my time and energy exploring what it means to choose your dream and your heart’s longing as your guiding light in life. And this I know: There is nothing fluffy about that path. Nothing. Nor is it naive and irresponsible.
We don’t speak enough about that. What it means to choose the path of the heart.
To only speak about the freedom and the shiny rewards attract some and make others suspicious (justly so). Starry-eyed believers head out equipped for a walk in the park, when in fact this is the most difficult journey we’ll ever embark upon. The most meaningful too, yes, but the most difficult. No question about it.
To only speak about it as irresponsible, childish and naive make us blind to what’s irresponsible and childish about not listening to our dreams.
You know what that looks like. Following the paths of others instead of our own. Complying with the rules of authorities that do not have everyone’s best interest at heart. Running for rewards we have not asked ourselves if we truly want, and then wonder where life went.
It’s the easy path, at least in the short term. It’s the path of fear. The one that’s killing us all right now.
The path of the heart is very different.
It’s about responsibility. It’s about making something valuable of the time we have, to contribute to a world where everyone’s gifts are welcome and important, to think more freely, more kindly, to break a little new ground, so that our children in turn will have more space. So that they can learn about freedom and responsibility from people who walk their talk.
It asks everything from us, this path. It’s a walk through light and darkness and we will not be the same on the other side. Parts of us will die along the way. Things will burn. And in the open heart, happiness will thrive. It can’t not. Happiness resides there. Not in the goal we strive for, but in the choices we make.
Your dreams are communication from a wiser part of yourself, and with the dream come the call to action. It’s a divine impulse and you are being called. Not answering comes at high price.
But answering is no picnic either. I want to remind you of that, because I want you to be equipped. I want you to follow me on this journey, and I want us to last all the way. I want us to go now. And not look back.
This article was first published on elephantjournal.com