Perchance to Dream

Many years ago, too many to count or even admit to, I used to listen to a radio show called America’s Top 40, hosted by Casey Kasem. His sign off phrase was, “Reach for the stars, but keep your feet on the ground.” This is good advice. Dream big, but stay somewhat practical.

Sadly, as children and even well into adulthood, we are often discouraged to dream at all. Sometimes we are discouraged by people who don’t support or believe in our dreams, and sometimes we’re knocked down just by pure circumstance. Perhaps, however, the reason we’re afraid to dream is because we are afraid to fail, or maybe, just maybe, we’re afraid to succeed. Whatever causes the death of our dreams, I just know it doesn’t have to be that way.

Balance is of course a healthy part of life. It’s good to be smart about life, to be grounded, and of course I always say to have a “Plan B.” And “C.” And even a “D.” Believe me, I’m not telling you to throw your life away in pursuit of foolishness. I’m not telling you to quit your job, sell your stuff, and backpack around Tibet. Unless of course, that’s something you really want to do. Then I’m all for it. Send me a postcard!

The young dream big, don’t they?  I mean, they can dream like we adults can’t even dream of dreaming. So who are we to snuff that out? Don’t we know that one of the cruelest things a person can endure is when someone they love can’t support their dreams? In a sense we’re saying we don’t believe in them. We don’t mean to. We’re just trying to protect them from the hurt we may have endured ourselves.

Plus, we think we know it all. We’re adults, right? We’re supposed to know it all. What we have to realize is that it’s better to let go and pursue our dreams rather than to always live with the ache of what could have been. I for one don’t want to be responsible for that in my life or the lives of my children.

What about us older folks? Those of middle-age and beyond. Do we think we’re too old good to dream? Our dreams are what move us to accomplish greatness and gift the universe with our brilliance… or maybe they just allow us to get through each day as we struggle with overwhelming mediocrity.  I will digress here for a moment to point out that Grandma Moses, pretty much a household name now, didn’t start painting until she was 78.  She painted right up until her death at 101. 101!  Her favorite quote, which indeed seems to tell her own personal tale, was “Life is what we make it, always has been, always will be.” Words to live by indeed.

Bram Stoker didn’t create Dracula until he was 50 (Stoker, not Dracula). I mean, seriously, where would the vampire genre be without him?

Donald Ray Pollock received quite a bit of attention for his debut novel, The Devil All the Time, but did you know that he dropped out of high school to work at a meatpacking plant for many years before moving on to a paper mill where he worked for 32 years as a laborer and truck driver?  The same year he turned 55, he took the leap and published a book of short stories – just a year before graduating Ohio University by the way.  Three years later, in 2011, along came The Devil All the Time which won him the Guggenheim Fellowship.  Talk about following a dream.

To digress even further (thanks for your patience!), Laura Ingalls Wilder… well, there’s another one. Even though she was a columnist at the age of 44 and doing fairly well, her Little House books made her a household name, and she didn’t publish those until she was the ripe age of 64.

After the death of her second husband, Mary Delany began creating amazingly intricate paper cut-outs of flowers to help her deal with her grief. She was 68. She created more than 1,700 pieces of this unique form of art and continued with her artwork until she was 88. Her pieces were so delicate and so incredibly beautiful that they now reside in the British Museum’s collection.

My point is, dreams shouldn’t be snuffed out… not in children, and certainly not just because a person has mastered the aging process. If anything, aging gives our dreams greater meaning. Life may throw us curve-balls or set us on a different path than we ever expected to be on, but dreams…dreams can set us free and put a new life in motion.

14 thoughts on “Perchance to Dream

  1. Very well said, and something that bears repeating on a regular basis. Nothing pisses me off more than someone (usually a well meaning friend or family member) telling me that I shouldn’t even bother thinking of doing something new or interesting. I have a number of rude and physically improbable suggestions for them!

    I started on my MBA when I was 49, got it at 51, then got my pilot’s license when I was 53. Then I traveled to Asia for the first time, then started my website, then started going to NASA Socials, then started a new career… And I haven’t even made a decent dent in my “life list”!

    What dreams and goals do you have?

  2. My children have bigger dreams than I ever had. I was a post war child, a baby-boomer with modest ambitions in life – get a job, buy a house, have a family, travel a little!

  3. This was really a great list of people, mainly writers, who had lived awhile before they achieved their goals in life! Thanks for including Grandma Moses. 🙂 Art is definitely something I enjoy, too.

    • I would love to fill the list to brimming but figured people only had so much patience with it. LOL There are many, many individuals out there who followed a dream late in life. Photographers, writers, artists, those who just up and move and change their life altogether (like Frances Mayes, author of Under the Tuscan Sun, a biography of her divorce and move to Italy).

      • Oh, I am hoping my late night comment didn’t sound bossy or negative, dear. 🙂 Lol
        I loved what you wrote and only knew of two who started so late in life! It was a fantastic list and meant a lot to this 60 year old, who will be 61 later this year. 🙂

      • Not at all! You’re a sweetheart, always. I was just bringing up that there are so many more “late bloomers” or “late dreamers” than one would think once you start researching and reading about the subject. And I’m glad you enjoyed reading it! The subject definitely gives ME inspiration. 😀 I hope your night is going well! 😀

  4. Just think about this …
    (humming this all day long is totally encouraged)

    Row, row, row your boat
    Gently down the stream
    Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily
    Life is but a dream.

  5. I agree. Dreams should be encouraged for all ages. Dreams change the world. It’s so sad to me that this society suppresses dreaming and imagination and encouraged conformity.

  6. This entry makes me think of my aunt who was 63 when she decided to learn how to drive. Now at 83 she drives the older folks, at the retirement village, to their doctor appointments. Thank you for reminding us that dreams are ageless.

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