Do you have a dream that can give you hope and purpose right now?
A few nights ago, I caught the tail end of the 2020 Gershwin Awards on PBS.They honored Garth Brooks, one of my all-time favorite singer-songwriters. Garth entertained with his usual exuberance, wit and storytelling. But, one thing he said particularly struck me. I’m paraphrasing, but here’s the gist: the beauty of having a dream is that a dream means we have hope.
When we have hope, we have purpose. Purpose is often borne from challenges like heartbreak, anger, and frustration. Organizations have come to life as a result of these emotions. Products have been invented. Services have been initiated. Songs have been sung. Books have been written.
What we risk when we lose hope.
The understatement of the year is how the COVID-19 pandemic has upended our independent way of life. Many people I see on social media are frustrated, angry, scared and grief-stricken. These emotions are normal, but if they become the norm, we risk losing hope. Here’s how I know…
About 17 years ago, on a snowy October day, my husband and I lost a son at 23 weeks in utero. He was our firstborn. Early in that pregnancy, I’d begun to weave a story in my imagination as I thought about who this astonishing little person would become.
When I learned that his story would come to an untimely end, the pain was like getting dropped out of a bright, sunshiney day dream into a disorienting hell. Imagine a screaming train barreling toward you at a thousand miles per hour. Immobilized on the cold, metal rails, you’re ripped apart, only to go through it again the next day.
As I gently cradled our deceased baby boy, who was as light as a newborn kitten, I could feel the life story I’d dreamed for him curl up on itself like a brittle brown leaf.
In the aftermath, I existed in a murky limbo ruminating about what could have been while quivering with anger and sadness at the reality. Hope suddenly felt out of reach.
When you lose hope, you lose faith. In its place, cynicism crawls in. You snort at the idea of dreams. You stop praying because prayers suddenly seem naive and pointless.
For a girl who has always been a big dreamer, this was a strange space. One I’d never before occupied. It took every ounce of my strength, as well as the nourishing support from the people who loved me to insist that I walk out of that chilly mist and stoke the warm embers of hope. Deep down I realized that if I allowed that flame to sputter out, grief would swallow me up.
So, I started writing my way up and out. And, I haven’t stopped since.
You may be someone who manages challenging circumstances every day. Or perhaps you are working to heal from illness, trauma or disappointment.
You may have met the kind of grief that mercilessly claws at your spirit leaving you with no instructions about how to stitch back the pieces. All you know is that you won’t ever be the same again.
When we’re ready, healing arrives in bursts like the dodging dance of a hummingbird moving energetically from blossom to blossom. Every now and then, if you’re patient, you’ll see it find a safe branch on which to rest.
For me, conversations and stories provide the bursts of healing that everyday living requires, while writing is where I can safely land and reflect on faith, hope, prayers and dreams—words that seem remarkably interchangeable if you really stop and think about them.
My new dream project.
During these uncertain times, I see this quarantine period as another opportunity to have faith, hope and dream big. Instead of brooding too much about what I wish life looked like right now, I’m focused on what it does look like and how I can creatively take advantage of this time.
That’s how I’m drawing the inspiration to work on one of my most challenging projects yet —my first novel.
The book I’m writing is a historical fiction with roots in a story that my grandmother, one of my all-time favorite storytellers, first shared with me when I was a child. Writing historical fiction inspires me as I research the issues and history that I’ve long been curious about it. Working on this project is both a welcome escape from the present and a fascinating exploration into the human spirit, including the choices we make out fear and scarcity.
Most of all, I find it incredibly fulfilling to give voice to a woman whose story was swept under the shaggy rugs of history along with legions of others.
What about you? Can you turn this unusual time into an opportunity to foster a dream that’s long been tugging at the hems of your
fancy pantsuit quarantine sweatpants? Is there a grief you can turn into a new dream or an inspiration for others?
While you may feel like a caged animal right now, emotional and physical barriers have never been much of a match against the creative human spirit that allows itself to dream.
No one gets a guarantee or a promise that a dream will come true. Some dreams take only the slightest of breaths before melting away. But if we have faith that new dreams can be born from the scar tissue, I believe hope can thrive—which means we can too.
So, why not show a little faith in your dreams? Why not now?
What is a dream you feel inspired to go after right now? How do your dreams give you faith? How do they provide you with hope and joy? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.