Dreams Deferred

I’ve always been a sucker for poetry. Just ask my husband, who I pester to write me more poetry constantly.

I’ve also been thinking about dreams lately, which is where the Langston Hughes reference comes in. I think dreams are necessary for life, and are intricately part of our DNA – DNA of the soul, if you will – and there is no pain quite like a dream that will just not come true. When it comes to a dream deferred, what can a person do? I have noticed lately that there are two main ways I handle it, and one not-so-good way of handling it, and I thought I’d share them with you, because, after all, blogging is just a form of narcissistic therapy. But, you never know, it might be good for you too.

Ways I Handle Dreams Deferred:

1. Mourning

It is like a part of me has literally died. I just want to curl up and go to sleep until the pain is over, if it is ever completely over. This is the more dramatic form of handling it, where I am emotional, irrational, and just everywhere. It might be lingering beneath the surface or in full-blown, teary-eyed, anger-under-new-management type of mien. This is what happens when I couldn’t go home to see my precious aunt one last time before she died, and how I feel after I’ve blown a job interview for a job I really wanted.

2. “A Dream for Another Life”

This is more calm, and actually almost fun, like an inside joke I have with myself. I sigh, I pull back, and then I say, “Oh well. It’s a dream for another life, I suppose.” I can even say it sarcastically, and it makes me sound deep and funny to my friends at the same time, and since I like efficiency, I like saying it. But it makes it easier. It’s a ‘What-if’ possibility I can wish for someone else, or even an imaginary self of mine. In my mind, I can kind of see it like blowing on one of those dandelions with the little seed fluffies on top; it’s more mystical, more magical, as I just let it go.

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3. Unrelenting Anger

This is the third way I typically deal with dreams which insist on not coming true, and I hate this way most of all, but there’s no talking myself out of it. Emotions don’t tend to listen well when they are screaming at the top of my lungs. It’s painful, cycling, and unexpected at times. Like the pain of the loss is just stalking me, showing up at the worst times, and always managing to get past my defenses, no matter how well I’ve barricaded myself in with the usual good things: prayer, friends, venting opportunities to my mother, my family members, any other commentary from others who think I’m being ridiculous (pain is ridiculous to people on the outside), etc. I hate this way because it’s the same as being stuck outside in a storm – unpredictable, terrifying, painful, lonely, haunting…keeps you on edge, looking around, scared, hoping for shelter, and just feeling hopeless after a certain point. You question God (interestingly never Satan), yourself, others…your level of commitment, your karma points, and everything from the beginning of time to the end the of the world, and how it could have conspired to steal your joy…It is a total loss of control and it stings to the very core of your being.

And that is the key to a lot of it. Dreams coming true don’t just happen. There’s work to do. And the times when it hurts the most – the times when I get the most angry – are the times when I’ve done all the work, tried my hardest, and in the end, I still didn’t get what I wanted. There is seemingly no redemption for it at the time.

I know that life is unfair, that there are no guarantees, and I feel terribly too much entitled at times, and I know it is a logical fallacy to assume just because you work hard you’ll get favorable results. It’s so easy to forget that, though!

And it really is terrible, because you know, deeper than intuition and instinct, that it was just not meant to be this way.

I was walking on the beach last week (instead of writing my blog post, lol) and I was looking for sand dollars. I’ve never found one, so I always look when I go. I’ve always hoped to find one. I mean, how hard can they be to miss? They’re a bright white against the washed-out sand, and round and smooth whereas other shells are edged and rough.

I didn’t find my sand dollar. I found some other shells though, and this weird looking black thing which I thought was some obsidian.

When I showed it to my husband, Ryan, later, he told me that shiny black thing was a shark tooth. And that he’d always wanted to find a shark tooth (turns out he had this conspiracy theory about shark teeth for sale in the souvenir shops which is too morbid for this conversation…so I’ll just let you try to think of it.)

While it was a small thing, it gave me a moment of clarity. It was a moment where kindness takes a turn at slapping you, and you are grateful and humble and compassionate all at the same time.

I made a dream of my husband’s come true. It was nice. Doesn’t mean I’ll get my dreams, but it’s nice to know I made one of his come true. And while it’s small, it’s still there.

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