There was a time not so long ago when I stopped dreaming. I don’t remember the precise moment when it happened, but it happened. Somehow, I first got lost in life’s daily grind and then in the depression and anxiety that enveloped me, and any dreams that I may have had died slowly, until I no longer even knew how to dream, much less what my dreams even were any more. I tried to live up to others’ expectations and live out the dreams that others had for me, but my dreams gave way to nightmares.
There were many times along the way that I doubted I would ever find my way back to myself, and I did not know if I even had any dreams of my own to pursue. What if there were no dreams left to dream? What if dreams really do not come true? The ‘what ifs’ plagued me, and the cure turned out to be a small group of trusted friends who believed in me and encouraged me to listen to my intuition and follow my heart. At first, I listened and heard deafening silence, but as I continued to heal, my dreams first whispered to me, then they roared. One of the first dreams to emerge was my desire to become a writer, and once I shared that dream with my trusted friends, my dream took off on the wings of a hope and a prayer. Today, I was able to be pass along the encouragement and support that I was given, and that truly was the best thing that I could do for someone.
At the day shelter for homeless men where I work, I see great despair coincide with even greater hope on a daily basis, as some men are in a dreamless state, while others are starting to dream once more and pursuing those dreams with a renewed sense of purpose. This morning, I had the pleasure of talking with a gentleman who was a beautiful dreamer indeed, but even beautiful dreamers need some encouragement to keep dreaming and doing.
As I completed some required paperwork with this gentleman, he shared that what brought him to Louisville was his dream to become a professional boxer. He spoke of wanting to train in the hometown of Muhammad Ali and how people thought he was “crazy” to leave his family, friends, and job to follow his dream. Due to a series of unfortunate events, he no longer has housing and is in the process of rebuilding his life. Fortunately, he recently found employment and is considering taking some classes at a local university, and while he tends to these practical matters, his dream to box professionally remains alive and well in his heart and mind. After he shared his plans to make this dream a reality, he asked me if I, too, thought he was “crazy”, and I answered honestly.
Before I weighed in on his mental status, I asked him if he was happy working his hourly job back in his hometown, and he said, “No”. I asked him why he was unhappy in that job, and he replied, “Because I wasn’t doing what I wanted to do. I wanted to box.” I asked him to tell me about what boxing means to him, and with that, his whole face lit up, and he excitedly talked about his passion for this sport. I then asked him which he would regret more-giving up on his dream now or continuing to pursue it, with the understanding that he could tweak or abandon his dream at any stage of his journey. When he stated that he would regret giving up his dream now, I finally answered his original question by saying, “That proves that you are not crazy, as only a crazy person quits before even trying.” This gentleman thanked me and said, “Even if I don’t end up becoming a professional boxer, I know that I will become the best someone I can be and make other dreams come true.” Yes, he most certainly will!
One of my dreams is on a much smaller scale than to become a professional boxer, but I pursued it today nonetheless, which was the best thing that I could do for myself. When things become stressful, as they definitely have been the last two weeks, I tend to replace healthy habits with unhealthy ones, which leaves me feeling worse, instead of better. When I realized that I would be at a local park for an hour this afternoon for my younger daughter’s soccer practice, it occurred to me that I had been given a golden opportunity that I readily seized.
I spent that hour doing running intervals under Kentucky blue skies and sunshine, accompanied by spring time breezes and warm temperatures, and with every step, I moved closer to my goal to be in the best possible physical shape, both for vanity’s sake and for my own physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health and well-being. It felt so good to challenge my body again and feel my spirits soar, especially when doing so in the midst of beautiful scenes found in nature, and I ran from my own self-imposed limitations and excuses and toward limitless possibilities and positive changes. I remain vigilant in my own fight against my demons and dream killers, in the form of self-doubt and negative self-talk, and today, I won and kept my dreams alive.
Just one thing each day . . .
Categories: Just One Thing Each Day
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