On the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr’s “I have a dream” speech, I’m going to talk about dreams! Yours and mine. First, I just learned (maybe you did too) that MLK almost didn’t even use the words “I have a dream” because he was advised against it. I find this fascinating because it parallels the idea that I’m exploring here – having an unspoken or unexpressed dream. Dreams get buried very deep. It’s been said that many people don’t know what they want. And that’s because many of us start to hear at a young age that dreams don’t matter much. How many times have you heard someone say “Well, it’s only a dream,” or “It’s just a fantasy”? Maybe when we’re children it’s okay to live in a “dream” or “fantasy” world, but what’s “practical” starts to trump what we dream about as we get older.
Except, I’ve started to wonder, what if living out your dream is the most practical thing there is? Because in doing so, you get to be who you really are, without working so hard to do things that don’t feel authentic, or taking more time than is efficient to learn a skill or go to school to get a degree in a field that you don’t even enjoy (and maybe you know this from Day 1)…What if we the way we talked about dreams was just practically becoming who we really are in the world?
I had a profound realization the other day. That was, that I’m living my dream. Of course there are still pieces of the dream that haven’t fully transpired, there are still things that I desire to have in my life. But I’m already living my dream in that I’m feeling the feelings that I’ve imagined feeling for the last eight months when I achieve what I want to achieve. In much of my training we are coached to get very clear on what we want. I’ve had many sessions where I’ve been coached to imagine my dream and notice the images, the sounds, the feelings in my body, the sensations that I was having once I’m in that place. If you’ve participated in any kind of visualization where you are asked to notice all the sensory information during the visualization, you are probably familiar with what I’m talking about.
So recently, my epiphany was one of deja vu – because I’m experiencing all the feelings that I imagined I would feel when I got what I want! And what this does for me is shows me that the rest of what I want is coming…provided I continue to take both physical and metaphysical action.
If you never dream, you never fully get in touch with what you want, with your deepest desires. For some people this sounds like a waste of time – because “dreams” or “fantasies” feel utterly out of reach. Underneath that “waste of time” thought, however, is really a fear of what might have to change in our lives that is hard to let go of, in order to achieve the dream. So, yes, it’s not easy peasy. But now, I can’t imagine a life without spending time regularly to think about and write down what I want.
A simple way to start getting in touch with your dreams: Answer the following questions, taking as much time as you’d like to write:
1) If I could wave a magic wand and have my ideal life, what would it look like? What do I see, what do I hear, what do I feel? What are the sensations in my body, who am I with? What am I spending my time doing? Where do I live? What do I look like? What’s the expression on my face?
2) What’s important about having this life? What else gets to happen when I have this life? How does it affect the people I love most?
3) How will I know when I have this life? What will I see, feel or hear? How would other people know when I have it? What would they notice?