Dreams. I've been thinking about them a lot lately. Dreams I have, dreams I've let go, dreams I want to have the guts to dream. The challenge in life is to figure out which ones are okay to part with and which ones must be held onto.
There are some dreams with which I've made my peace.
Growing up, I had considered becoming a doctor. Then I discovered how much school was required. And then I discovered that I pass out when I look at, think about, or talk about needles. So much for that one.
In ninth grade, my dream of playing football was over when I looked around the locker room and realized that I was half the size of some of these guys. I was also the only one who didn't have armpit hair and/or a beard.
About the same time, I stopped dreaming of being a professional wrestler when I realized that wrestling is stupid and I wanted girls to actually start liking me.
It's easy for me to accept the loss of those dreams and others like them. Time, maturity, and reality slowly chipped away at the shiny coating that covered them until I could see that underneath the veneer was only hot air and naivete. I look back on those times and smile at my hopeful foolishness. I know I was meant to move on from them.
But some dreams are different.
I remember a time I was in the office of someone I respect greatly. As I sat across from him, I poured out my frustration over how one of my dreams didn't seem to be panning out. I spoke in broken rhythms, through gritted teeth, with eyes barely holding back tears. I'll never forget what he told me next.
He said, "You need to get over it. Move on, forget about it, and grow up."
I sat there with my hands squeezing the sides of my chair. I nodded slowly, I swallowed hard, and I tried to put that dream to sleep in that room, right then and there. And though I shook his hand that day and told him that he was right, I knew something was not right. My heart was pounding at my rib cage with furious, angry beats. Because what he said to me that day was wrong: My dream was not fantasy. It was not childish fancy. This dream was something that was an inseparable part of who I was, who I am.
It has taken me years to see that with clarity. I've spent a large chunk of my life trying to let go of a dream that won't let go of me.
Actor John Barrymore said that "a man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams." Sometimes, I feel like an old man already. Regrets have started to fill the space in my heart that was reserved for my dreams. That's no way to live. I'm making an impassioned commitment to allow myself to dream again. There are certain dreams that I refuse to let anyone ever tell me again to "get over":
I believe there are dreams past, present, and future that God hand-crafted me to dream and reach for.
I believe in life to the fullest.
I believe in having love that leads you to pursue each other like there's no tomorrow, to embrace each other, to face the world together, to dream of and with each other.
I believe I can passionately love what I do for a living, that I don't have to trudge through life clocking in and out of a place only because I have to pay the bills.
I believe that age is determined by your heart, and I refuse to let myself become old in spirit.
And when I do become an old man in years, I will not be a man whose regrets outweigh his dreams.