Courage-to-chase-dreamsA friend made the comment, “I don’t have a dream right now,” or words to that effect. My first reaction was to start thinking of ways that I might help my friend capture a dream and return to the state of bliss that striving for something can entail.

But the more I thought about it, the more confused I became. For I discovered that in thinking about the subject, I too had no dream. And I consider myself quite happy, in fact I consider myself happier than I have ever been in my life–content, fulfilled, joyful, anticipatory each day–you name it, I’m feelin’ good.

So I dug a bit deeper. As I probed the subject, it seemed to me that the pursuit of dreams occurs under two situations. The first is in our youth. When life is new and still stretching before us with a horizon far, far away, and the end nowhere in sight, we are full of dreams.

We dream of college and career, of our soul mate, that vacation in Maui, having children, where we want to live. We dream like this throughout our twenties at least until life takes on the usual dullness of every-dayishness.

Then we dream of retirement–where to retire to, the house we really want to live in, what hobbies we wish to pursue in greater degree, the vacations we wish to take–the bucket list comes front and center.

These are all normal for most of us blessed with the average sort of life that most of us expect and will realize. We live in a country where such possibilities are realistic and attainable with the requisite hard work and determination.

The other dreams arise when things in our lives go awry. We all know that “bad things happen to good people” so it is inevitable that at times in our lives we will find our lives unsettled and unhappy. It may be a failed relationship, health issues, the loss of a loved one, a career crash, but something happens that completely turns our lives upside down.

Humans are unique in several ways from our cousins and other sentient beings, at least as far as we know. We seem to be the only creatures that live in hope. We have the ability not only to remember things as most animals do, but we have the ability to analyze them. We can conclude that as to some things, we are victim plain and simple with not real responsibility for the place we find ourselves.

Since we know that bad things happen just because they do, we developed “hope” as a mechanism to get us through. We know that good times will return, even if they will never be quite the way we would like them to be. Because we have this hope, we dream of that day when the bad has receded and life returns to some normalcy.

Hence, we get through our bad times by dreaming of how life will be once again, when we have “gotten through” this rough spot.

I did this for four years when we lived in the meadow in Iowa. While living in such a place sounds idyllic, it is alas not. Not when you are in the late 50’s at least. We lived a half mile from a rock road, and about 40 minutes from town. I won’t go into details, but unless you are a hermit, life can get very hard living beyond the sidewalks.

For four years, I planned and dreamed of moving. Blessed with a great husband, and the wonderfully stable price of farmland, we were able to pretty much go where we wanted. I chose Las Cruces, New Mexico. My dream became our dream as we drove ourselves here and began the process of locating a house to buy and a new life to fashion.

It has all gone shockingly well, and my dreams have been realized to a degree that is almost freaky. I could not have dreamed better it seems.

Yet, now I find, upon examination, that I have no dream today. Yet, I’m happy, so having a dream seems not a requirement all the time. A realized dream it seems is success! Living the dream becomes the day-to-day dream!

Which is not to say that there aren’t mini dreams. There are and perhaps always should be those. We should always be striving in some ways to become something more than we are.

Presently I’m trying to work out the best way that I as an individual can address the problem of hunger in my community. Should I do it as a sole offering? Should I bring in my immediate sub-division? Should I involve my church? How can I best achieve the goal of producing the most food for our local pantry? It is my dream of this moment to address this problem, and I continue to ponder, ask questions, and frame possible solutions.

So my advice is simple. If you find yourself mostly happy most of the time, then you probably don’t need anything other than small dreams to effect big issues of your world. If you are unhappy then, a more serious dream is required.

Identify what is wrong with your life. Assess your passions. Do you need money? Do you want a business? Do you need a complete overhaul or just some extra time? What are your strengths and weaknesses? Do you need outside help? Who will be affected by any change you contemplate? How does that change the mix? Can you make a few small changes to lighten your emotional burden while you work toward a longer-term change?

These are some questions you might start with. Undoubtedly others will occur to you during this process. But if you are honest with yourself, I suspect you will discover that you are more than up to the task.