The Anti-Dream and the Dreamer.

mt washington

There are some dreams I'm afraid to dream because of the probability they won't happen.

Some of the best examples are the ones having to do with girls when I was growing up. I would imagine what a date would be like. I would picture what the first kiss would be like. I would visualize some elaborate scenario in which she would have a terrible day but would later find me standing outside her room in the rain getting pneumonia. Always something having to do with me standing in the rain because that means that you care more or something like that.

Along the way, though, I learned to squash those thoughts as soon as they popped into my head. You know why? Because as soon as I dreamed a scenario happening a perfect way, I knew that it would now never happen that way.

That's the curse of the anti-dream--the dream that will never come to be because it's not possible. I'm telling you--it's real. As soon as I would picture the perfect night with the perfect girl with the perfect kiss, I might as well say goodbye. Now it would never happen quite like that.

It sounds silly when it's about young love, but I've learned to succumb to the fear of the anti-dream in a whole slew of areas: dreams about my job, my finances, my marriage, my friendships, my church.

I'm tempted at times to think that being a dreamer is like being a kite. We have these brilliant, inspired moments where we soar high on a gust of wind. Inevitably, the wind will die down, and we will come crashing down to the earth.  We will spend more time recovering from the crashes, more time trying to get back off the ground again than we will in the sky, and ultimately, more time shoved in the basement somewhere because kites are silly fads anyway.

That is the sober reality, isn't it? When you dream, you ask for disappointment. So to experience less disappointment, the clear solution is to dream less. Shelve them. Shove them in the basement to collect dust and fade from your memory.

I'm tempted to believe that. I'm tempted to sink into cynicism. It is easier, after all. Less heartache to deal with.

But deep in my soul, I know that we dreamers aren't kites in a constant state of falling to the earth. We are not victims of gravity. We are wired to rise, to fly, to move and reach upward.

We need to aim high without fear of falling of short so we can know what's possible. We want to see just how far the sky reaches and how far the ocean stretches. We would rather blast ourselves into orbit to see how expansive the earth is than to safely assume that the world is flat and that what we see in our small boxes is all that is possible or attainable.

We open ourselves up to disappointment and the scorn of cynics, but we always pick ourselves up and dream again.

And the hope of what could be, for me anyway, eventually overpowers the lie of the anti-dream: that just because things don't turn out exactly as we pictured them, they are not worth dreaming.

I've learned that dreams don't come true, at least exactly as we expect them. If they happened exactly as we thought them up in our heads, I think they would lack a certain richness and depth. There's something about the unexpected obstacles, the bumps and bruises, the setbacks, the pain, that bring a more powerful sense of fulfillment than the rosy scenes I dream in my head.

Ultimately, dreams have saved me. They've helped me know in my heart when something is wrong and needs to be made right. They've become my true north, my reason to get out of bed in the morning, my elixer to bring me back from the dead in those stretches of life where I more resemble a zombie than a human living life vibrantly.

Not everyone is a dreamer. Not everyone is willing to face the inevitable disappointments. But I can't deny that I am. It's one of the truest, most essential pieces of who I am. You and I, the dreamers, we have to fight for our identity.

Always look up, always get up when we fall, always look up again.

It's what we do.