What happens to dreams when they’re lost?
Dreams of life, that is, not those of slumber.
Do they fade and vanish like ripples from a stone tossed into a lake?
Do they get stored in our souls to be remembered, retrieved and given another chance in the next lifetime?
Do they follow and haunt us like the ghosts of our grandmothers and grandfathers and ancestors before them?
What happens to a dream that isn’t given the chance to come to life — aka “come true” — for any myriad of reasons?
I don’t have the answer or even an inkling of it.
I just know that at age 58, I don’t believe as I once did. As we all do when we were young — or younger.
Do you remember back when you were, say, 11, 12, 13? How natural were our life dreams then. Attainable. Doable. Within reach of course, given efforts and work and education and elbow grease and keeping the eye on the ball.
I never questioned that I couldn’t win a Nobel Prize in literature or journalism one day. I wasn’t convinced that I would. However, more importantly, neither was I convinced that I couldn’t. If I did the work, anything was possible.
Then life happens. Things we never could never see coming. Some good, some terrible. And the dreams that were so much a part of us, as natural to us as our breath, slowly begin to take second seat to other things. Other things like marriages or children or wanderlust or addictions or jobs just to pay the rent. The list is long.
Then those dreams slide even further from our attention with the years. Marriages turn into divorces, the kids become a pain in the neck and consume our energies. Or we’re enabling them or rescuing them or living our lives through them in the most toxic ways. Our partners have affairs.
Forget careers or aspirations of our younger times. We’re happy just to survive. Just to have a job that’ll put food on the table.
Our pleasures in life shrink as responsibilities and Must-Dos and Have-to-Dos overcome us. Swallow us in part or in whole.
The dreams of our youth that we remember, perhaps distinctly, perhaps vaguely, no longer matter. Too many decades have passed. Too much has happened. Life itself has beaten us down. Ground us from the peanuts we are into peanut butter.
Crises or failures of health develop. We gain weight, some of us; others lose it. We no longer have the flexibility or stamina or strength of our youth. We no longer risk as we once did or double-dare ourselves just for the fun and adventure of it.
We grow old in mind and in body.
And our dreams, what happened to them? They’re no longer a part of us save in perhaps distant memory. If our memories are still intact, that is! Dementia, Alzheimer’s, cancer and more, they’re all part of the deal now too.
That which we encounter and endure in the later years simply to survive. Just like the jobs we endured and hated simply to survive back in our 30s or 40s. If you’re lucky enough to have a job, that is. These days, in the U.S. economy destroyed by Obama and the liberal/socialist regime, you’re lucky if you’ve got a job at all. Never mind one that brings joy to the heart and income to the bank account.
I don’t believe in dreams. Not like I used to. My youth and inarguably my best years — certainly my most vigorous and healthy years — are behind me. This is fact. This is aging.
If an angel sent from God/Universe/our Creator appeared before me and asked: “What do you believe in, my child?” I would, first, be quite taken aback that anyone was speaking to me with endearment! I truly would.
Then, with astonishment passed, I’d pause and respond in two parts. “Death. And I don’t know.”
I don’t mean to sound like an old fart, I truly don’t! I write from awareness that I’m closer to death than birth. I’m officially in my “sunset” years or “golden years” or whatever one might call them. I’m no happier at 58 than I was at 20. Changed? Yes. Wiser? Absolutely. More jaded and cynical? No. Too much has happened to anticipate happiness beyond the fleeting moment. Moreover, I’ve never strived to be happy. Not really.
Instead of happiness, I’d rather have peace. Inner peace. The peace of knowing that I’ve done the best in life I can; I have. Been true to myself all along the way; I haven’t. Given things my best shot; for most things, yes.
As for dreams, well, I’d let them go. To drift through the air like a feather from the wing of a bird in flight.
And I’d close my eyes in sorrow for the dreams that have died and in joy for the sighting of a feather adrift in the wind.
Dreams really haven’t a place when life is hard, when surviving consumes enormous effort and energy, when staying alive becomes an act of will.
_ _ _
What happens to our life dreams when they don’t come to pass? That answer is no clearer now than it was when I began writing this post.
I feel heavy-hearted. Sad. Achey not only in bones but emotion. Sorrowful in ways. Neither morose nor depressed — not today anyway.
I feel that I’ve lost something that used to enrich and beautify my inner life. Dreams. Of who and what I could become and what I could do.
Those years are gone, lost. We cannot go back in time; were that we could, I’d do many things differently! However, that’s not really the point.
Dreams turn to dust, as do we. Perhaps that’s the best I can offer at this time. I’m learning to live like a common man. Void of or emptied of dreams. Just plodding along day to day until my time comes. As one day it will; as one day it will and does for each of us.
It saddens me so.