Before I jump any farther into my thoughts on dreams and following them and what it all means, I want to talk a bit about the message I keep hearing. It's important to me to articulate what I'm hearing, both so moves from subconscious to conscious in myself, and so that we're all on the same page as we begin this exploration.
I feel bombarded with people saying "Follow your dreams." It's more than just that, though, more than something that reduces to "Follow your heart," though that's definitely a part of it. I hear that I'm supposed to follow my dreams so that I can be sure to contribute to the world and, more specifically, so that I can contribute what I am meant to contribute, or made to contribute, or supposed to contribute, or contribute something that the world won't have if I don't follow my dreams.
This message implies that my purpose in life is hidden in my dreams, that my dreams indicate my calling, that where my heart wants to go is where I should go, and that, therefore, everyone else in my life either needs to come along with me or be left behind. It implies that God speaks to me in my dreams or, if from a secular source, that the universe or some larger source communicates my purpose to me that way, or I hear a larger need and that forms my purpose, or something like that. It's a combination of internal and external forces, though, that dictate what I want to do.
Along these lines, while following my dreams is not supposed to be easy, it is somehow supposed to work out eventually, if I fully give myself to the dream, continue to pursue it despite opposition, believe in it, and maintain suitable levels of passion for it. Because it is what I am supposed to do, God will eventually move or the universe will eventually align in such a way that I will find some measure of success when it comes to my dreams and my contribution to the world (though this can be defined in many different ways).
In addition to hearing that I should follow my dreams, I also hear that I will not be happy until I do so, that doing so is the only way to find fulfillment, and that I will end my life with regret if I don't follow my dreams. I hear that I have the choice to truly live or just to exist, and that I can never enter my "real life" without following my dreams.
I hear that there is much to get in the way of following dreams. Things like fear, resistance, and distraction can keep me from this true purpose and calling, and if I give into them I will never reach my potential, give the world what I have to offer, or find happiness in life.
In fact, there's often implied threat in all this talk of dreams - something like "If you don't follow your dreams, you'll be unhappy and unfulfilled for the rest of your life," or "If you choose not to pursue your dreams, you're giving into fear and disappointing God."
This seems like the dark underbelly of this message. Following my dreams, as it turns out, is not just about my own and the world's fulfillment, but also about avoiding pain, disappointment, ambiguity, confusion, shame and a host of other negative emotions that could arise in me if I don't do these things that I'm made to do. I don't know if this threat is meant to motivate me, or is just articulating the natural consequences of not following my dreams, but it almost always seems to be part of the message I'm hearing.
Alongside this, there is also a distinct "should" here (though this isn't present in all the versions of the mandate to follow dreams) - I should try to do what I dream of doing, for all the reasons that I'm teasing out here.
There's also usually a part of this message that has to do with faith and trust - mostly in myself, but also in God or the universe or some other sort of higher power. I'm to trust that I'm hearing my dreams accurately, that what I want to do or feel pulled towards doing is, in fact, what I should be doing. I'm to believe that I have what it takes, that I am enough to make my dreams happen, sometimes alongside God or the universe or some conglomeration of the force of all things. There's faith that God is communicating with me, that he is telling me how to work and move in this world via my dreams, and that he will eventually make me successful if I choose to believe that these dreams are the way I'm to contribute to the world.
This is the message that I'm hearing, over and over, from both secular and Christian sources. As you read this, what do you think? Do you hear the same message? Is there anything you would add or take away? Am I being fair in my portrayal of what I'm hearing? Let me know what you think.
01 July 2012
I've been away from this space for a while now. I've missed it, and I've tried to come back and just haven't been able to.
The truth is, I've been struggling with what this blog is for me, with what I want it to be, and with what it means to have an online presence and what I want to do with that.
I came up with an idea for a new blog, a blog that would focus on communicating truths that I've long believed need to be shared and discussed and put out there for people to hear and ponder. I put a good deal of work into this new blog. I got a domain and worked on a theme and wrote a handful I posts and the text for an ebook. I fell more and more in love with my idea, with the people who would come there (even though I don't know them yet), with the freedom and community people might find there.
And yet, as much love and passion as I have and as much as I believe that the message of this new space is one that is mine to convey, is part of what I have to offer the world, I couldn't bring myself to start the blog. I had the value of the message and even of myself as messenger validated in a myriad of ways, but I kept not starting it.
I became frustrated with myself. I didn't want to let fear hold me back, and yet what else could it be? What else could keep my mind from sending the message that would allow me to hit 'Enter' and launch the whole thing?
As the days passed, I tried to figure out what, exactly, was going on in my mind. I felt like I needed to understand, so that I could combat it, so I could do effective battle against my fear and get the job done.
What I discovered was fear and more than fear. And it all led me back to some questions that are old and familiar to me, and to which I've never found satisfactory answers. These questions center around the role that our dreams take in our lives, whether we have to follow them to really live and to make God happy with us, and whether we're living some sort of a lesser life if we choose not to pursue our dreams, fail at them, or for whatever reason don't have the opportunity to do so.
These are the questions that I'm coming back to this place to discuss. I'm not sure if these posts will be organized enough to be called a series, so I guess it's more of an exploration. If you're so inclined, Is love to have you along for this ride. Let's go exploring together.