Earlier this year, our family read aloud The BFG by Roald Dahl. Dahl has become one of my favorite authors. His books are funny and sad and clever and full of wisdom even an adult cannot miss.
This week, we saw the movie version, which is not exactly like the book but had its share of great moments, too. There’s an exchange between Sophie and the BFG that has stuck with me. Sophie has accompanied the BFG on his rounds blowing dreams into people’s houses. They’re watching a young boy’s dream unfold in his mind and suddenly it’s over.
“Dreams are so quick,” Sophie observes.
“Yeah, on the outside,” the BFG says with a chuckle. “But they’s long on the inside.”
Though he’s talking about our at-night dreams, I think his words relate to our day-dreams, too, or the ones that keep us up at night. Our someday dreams.
Sometimes it takes a long time for our dreams to happen. Almost always, dreams take time and work and effort and patience. But they can appear to happen quickly, especially if we aren’t given the background. I remember reading a book once that was so beautifully written and well crafted it actually discouraged me as a writer. “I’ll never write anything that good,” I thought. “She makes it look so easy.” Then I read the author’s note where she revealed that this book was a 10-year project that had evolved many times.
I had been mistaken because I couldn’t see the work that had gone into the dream, only the result.
I have dreams. The waking kind. The someday kind.
And sometimes it’s hard to believe those dreams will ever come true. And they might not. Maybe they’ll be replaced with other dreams. Or turn into nightmares.
But I think we need to have dreams, even if they don’t ever come true.
More importantly, I think we need to work as if our dreams will come true. Not that we have to do whatever it takes to make our dreams come true because that can be dangerous. But we have to do something. Few people have their dreams handed to them without any effort. (I appreciate this post in a series on dreams because it reminded me that my dream is my responsibility.)
In one sense, I’m living my dream. I’m a writer. I work from home. These are good things that have bad moments but mostly they are the elements to my dream job.
On Wednesday, I leave for a conference that has also been a dream. It’s for fiction writers and it’s big and potentially overwhelming and I already feel like maybe I shouldn’t be there (and I’m not even there yet). The last time I attended a conference I was clueless. Maybe it was better that way. Now, I feel like I know too much.
Going to this conference, though, is taking responsibility for my dream. Because if I ever want to publish a novel, I have to take a chance and let people know I’m out there, writing, and I have stories to tell. No one is going to find me and give me my dream while I’m sitting at home in comfy clothes watching Netflix. (I wish!)
The truth is that this conference isn’t going to be the realization of my dream. Not by itself, anyway. It will be a step in the process. (I think it may be true that publishing a novel may not even be the realization of my dream.) Just the beginning of the work. Or a continuation of it.
I worry that it might be the thing that crushes my dream because that is always possible. But even a crushed dream serves a purpose and makes way for a new dream to develop.
Maybe the path to my dream will be long. And winding. Maybe I’ll encounter a dead end. Maybe my dream will die.
As hard as that is to write, it’s almost easier to accept. I have an easier time believing my dream will be crushed than that it will be realized. (Analyze that, if you will.)
I won’t stop dreaming. I can’t.
And neither should you.
When I was growing up, that phrase was used to discourage people from pursuing something that seemed out of reach.
Dream on, we were told if we were aiming for something big or amazing.
I say, keeping dreaming.
Dream on and on and on.