When my daughter was seven years old, she asked me one day what I did at work. I told her I worked at the college – my job was to teach people how to draw. She stared at me, incredulous, and said, ‘You mean they forget?’– Howard Ikemoto (artist and art professor)
There is something wonderfully simple about the way young children see life. It is a way of seeing in which anything is possible, and this means that they see no reason why they can’t grow up to be an astronaut or a cowboy or a princess. Their dream vision of the future is untainted by limitations.
I personally remember a time when I truly believed that I would grow up to be a famous tennis player competing on the world stage. As I grew older, this dream changed to being a critically acclaimed movie director. Somewhere along the line, though, this dream faded and for a long time I never properly replaced it.
For some reason, I stopped dreaming. Actually, that is not quite accurate – I never stopped dreaming, it is just I developed limiting beliefs and stopped believing my dreams were possible.
We All Dream
All men dream; but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act out their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.– T. E. Lawrence
As I look around me each day, I don’t think I am the only one who has experienced this. So why is it, then, that we forget how to dream the beautiful dreams of our childhood?
Personally, I believe that we are taught to forget. As Bill Strickland says in Make the Impossible Possible:
We’re told how complicated life is, told we can’t do this and we’re not smart enough or fast enough or talented enough to pursue that. And in hearing that – in responding to these words whose effect is to close doors and narrow our thinking – we make ourselves poor… in our imagination and in leading a meaningful life.
So the big question is: how do we learn to dream again?
How to Dream Again
Lately, I have started to again dream like I did as a child. From this I have come to a powerful realization: let go of the need to know how. You see, when I analyzed my own thoughts I found the problem was that I would quickly discount my dreams as mere fantasies because I could not immediately imagine how these dreams would become reality. But the truth is, just because my mind doesn’t immediately know how it will accomplish something, it doesn’t mean it is impossible.
It can be uncomfortable to let go of the need to know how as this can make us feel vulnerable or silly. But if we are to dream to our full potential, it is essential that we learn to have faith in our abilities and the possibilities in life. This means we should dream wildly without trying to know how these dreams will become reality. There will come a time when we should develop a plan, but initially, we should enjoy the beauty of our dreams and trust that a path exists to realizing them.