It’s rare to meet someone who doesn’t dream. It’s equally as rare to meet someone living his or her dream. So where’s the disconnect? How can so many people have so many dreams when so few of them actually come to fruition? Clearly, something happens on the way to living out a dream that causes it to loose its grandeur, its importance, its attractiveness. Because when a dream stops being dreamy it stops being worth pursuing. When our dreams become tasks and lists of tasks and lists of lists of tasks and lists of multi-tasks the burden of the dream’s chores outweighs the dream itself. So, we drop it. We modify it. We shrink it. We change dreams all together. We lose sight of the very thing that inspired us to begin working in the first place.
If you haven’t noticed, the CLS is full of dreamers. It’s also full of “taskers.” Somehow the dream of impacting lives over Spring Break turns into twenty emails per day; getting into law school, an inordinate amount of homework; promoting literacy in Athens, an incessant search for funding. These tasks are often what derail us from the dream. Unfortunately, there’s no way to avoid tasks on the path to a dream. Simply put, any dream worth running after will take a lot of hard work. But (and this a Sir-Mix-A-Lot-sized “but”) there is a way to not get bogged down in the tasks of a dream: get back to the activity that sparked the dream in the first place.
As dreamers, we never start with the big picture. A dream is ignited by an act or experience that captures the heart. Remember the face of the first child you explained multiplication to? Remember the reaction of the family when they saw their home transformed by your hard work after an afternoon of cleaning? Remember the smile on the fragile old woman after she left the mobile dental clinic with her teeth cleaned for the first time in 60 years? Almost all of us can pinpoint the activity that our dreams center around. Unfortunately, as we seek to make our dreams reality and expand our vision, the bureaucracy, administrative work, and management of the tasks and people involved in our dream cloud our original clarity and purpose.
To return clarity, return to your dream. Go put a book in a child’s hand. Go spend time with the people at the homeless shelter. Go hammer nails into a Habitat house (dreams don’t need to be service-based, these are just examples). Go be with the women in Africa who are using the micro-loans. When you get down to the micro-level of loving and caring for people, the level where the dream smashes into reality and makes a difference, everything seems simple again. Things seem obvious. The dream captures your imagination again and becomes desirable, worthwhile, even achievable. You remember the “why” again.
So here’s to all the dreamers out there. Dream big. Dream scary big. Dream so big that you’re afraid to tell people about it. Seriously. And then run hard after your dreams. Work hard. Laugh hard. Email hard. Whatever it takes, pursue your dreams with absolutely everything you have. And when you feel swamped or overwhelmed or heavy laden by the overflowing inbox or the unending Gmail task list, close the computer, put the pen down, and get back to the activity where the dream first took root. Let the winds of love and change provide fresh air to the smoldering embers of your vision and rekindle that once small flicker back into a radiating blaze.