You know a dream is like a river
Ever changin’ as it flows
And a dreamer’s just a vessel
That must follow where it goes
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a dreamer, rarely practical, but frequently asking “what if” and diving headlong to a ridiculous goal. I’m spontaneous, making spur-of-the-moment decisions and letting my actions follow suit.
My dreams have changed as many times as my hair color and weight, but each one I launched with an incredible amount of intensity, adrenaline and perseverance. My dreams have a life of their own—like the alien plant from Little Shop of Horrors—and I am just the means by which they seek fulfillment. I’m forever driven by a power I can’t control—the fundamental need to create and make a difference. That push leaves me burdened with feelings of inadequacy—wondering if I could or should have done more, or done it better—and just not being good enough.
Trying to learn from what’s behind you And never knowing what’s in store Makes each day a constant battle Just to stay between the shores.
As many times as I’ve dreamed a dream, I’ve abandoned them. I’d like to say I departed from those dreams because I had achieved them or moved on to bigger dreams, but many times I was separating myself from a venture that created such intense emotions of failure that it broke my spirit. I still think back on some of those dreams and feel regret. Those were projects born from deep in my soul like my children, but I ran away and hid, no longer able to bear the disappointment of my failure.
But I’ve learned from those discarded dreams. I am more protective of the ones I now find myself pursuing, but I often wonder if dreams have a lifespan and aren’t meant to last forever. I struggle to find a time when a dream dies of natural causes, not because I failed it.
Too many times we stand aside And let the waters slip away ’Til what we put off ’til tomorrow Has now become today
Life and dreams are short, perhaps that’s the lesson.
I’ve recently watched two people take their final breaths. One moment the lungs are drawing and expelling air, and the next, there’s nothing. Everything stops. All is still. Moments before there was life, but now there is nothing.
In one instance, the person had dreams and regrets, and in the other, no dreams were pursued, but also there were no regrets. Do dreams keep us in turmoil—always pursuing and striving and trying—but the absence of dreams lead to peace?
So don’t you sit upon the shoreline And say you’re satisfied Choose to chance the rapids And dare to dance the tide.
I don’t want to have regrets, so I keep pushing and trying. I don’t want to release my final breath and think, “I should have…”
So whenever opportunities arise, I push myself to not sit on the shoreline, even though my insecurities paralyze me. I embrace my spontaneous nature, take a deep breath and jump in the water.
I’m not satisfied with not taking chances, because I’ve learned that those chances—when everything isn’t figured out, but feels so right—can be the most rewarding and fulfilling. Taking that leap can bring me closer to feeling adequate. Maybe, just maybe, I can make a difference.
And I’m not going to give up.
I will sail my vessel ’Til the river runs dry Like a bird upon the wind These waters are my sky I’ll never reach my destination If I never try So I will sail my vessel ’Til the river runs dry.
(Lyrics: “The River” written by Garth Brooks and Victoria Shaw)