May 2013: When Did You Stop Dreaming?

by Brad on April 29, 2013

“A something in a summer’s noon, — An azure depth, a wordless tune, Transcending ecstasy.”  — Emily Dickenson

Have you had the privilege lately to share the experience of life with a child? A young child’s curiosity and wonder are contagious. Children instinctively believe (know) anything is possible, so they think, speak and act a “language of possibility,” every day. Indeed, this proclivity for imagining and dreaming must be another thing wired in our DNA.

Until … we become acculturated into “the way it is.” All too early, we begin learning that dreaming isn’t productive, that imagination isn’t for grownups (we’d already been taught we should want to be grownups), that being rational and calm gains us the approval of others, and that “big people” don’t do “childish” things. Believing all we hear – for we cannot do otherwise at that age – we trade away not only our dreams, but along with them, our dreaming, as if they were admission tickets to adult society, and to the social acceptance of others. Imagination has been quietly beat out of us, our dream unknowingly turned into the nightmare of compliance.

Well, guess what? Although we didn’t/couldn’t know it then, and although our parents had long since forgotten it, we traded away our connection to a life of possibility, too, for in the dreaming lies the potential we are. Whatever we end up believing can be true becomes the edge of what can be true. Such is the power of our dreams.

OrangeFlowersI looked up ‘dream’ and ‘dreaming’ in a few sources, and what I found was sobering. A few samples (italics mine): an idea or hope that is impractical or unlikely ever to be realized; a state of inattention owing to preoccupation with thoughts or fantasies; to entertain or delude oneself with imagined things; something that somebody hopes, longs or is ambitious for, usually something difficult to attain, far removed from present circumstances. Inattention? Delude? Give me a break! Seems we’ve lost not only the dreams and the dreaming, but even the support of language to re-engage with what’s innately part of our human essence.

Here’s my take on dreaming and imagination. See what you think. Dreams, imagination and envisioning not only create a powerful picture of a possible future, but they create energy that draws us toward that future. It’s in this sense that we have the power to ‘dream our world into being,’ as most native cultures both knew and practiced. The dreaming itself sustains and guides us, illuminating our path into tomorrow. Without that light, we unconsciously create tomorrows that look alarmingly like yesterday. Visions and dreams very different from goals. There’s nothing wrong with a goal if you want to clean out your closet, but a vision provides energy for a journey (not for a result), and asks neither practicality nor achievement. Strangely, “achievement” is a far more likely, and natural, consequence of a vision than it is of a goal. Big dreams and visions create energy that can sustain you for a lifetime.

Only after 30 years as an adult did I re-find mine, but I’m now “living my dream,” exploring with curiosity and wonder how and why the world, and we, work the way we do. I’m fascinated. In one sense, all my articles are really just stories of my fascination – with life, consciousness and our world.

Exercise: Dreaming your world into being. Create some quiet time for yourself, without distraction. As you bring the pace of your life to a crawl, re-imagine your early childhood world. What dreams did you dream then? What did you just know was, or would be, true for you? Even if your dream was just to “own the world between your house and your school,” recall the feelings the dream evoked then? What feelings does it evoke now? See if you can identify or trace where the dream faded, and (if possible), why it did so. Now, even it were by magic trick, what if the limitless power of your dreaming were instantly restored to you? What dream would you hold for your future? Is it a dream that can sustain you for a lifetime? (If not, dream bigger.) Remember that a dream isn’t about creating a result; it’s about igniting the energy of your passion, and allowing that energy to guide your way. Do this exercise often; the more you do, and the more fully you embrace its potential, the more energy you create for its fulfillment. As you dream your dream each day, the growing energy pulls you into that dream, allowing it to emerge as reality. 


A River Runs Through It  [Life lessons offered by nature]

The Aboriginal people of Australia had a notion called Dreamtime, one of many levels of reality, each with its own consciousness. In Dreamtime, the land, the self and the process of creation were inextricably linked, and it was here that the “world was dreamed into being.” Their stories were inseparable from their life journey, the journey inseparable from the land. In reading about their ways of life, it strikes me that our lost sense of wonder today is connected to our lost relationship with the land and its stories … and with our own stories, too. The magic and mystery are gone.

We’ve become an impatient society. We expect (or demand) that our experiences be “right here, right now.” We’ve stopped cultivating relationships (a process requiring patience, intention and dialogue), and instead just demand or take what’s there right now. The same is true in our connection with nature. We’ve come to see nature as an object, as something separate from who we are, something to be owned or even destroyed, as we may wish. We’ve lost the reverence and reciprocity that once provided the backdrop for our dreaming. No wonder we don’t dream.

In my limited knowledge of early peoples, Aborigines included, I’m aware that animate and intimate conversations with animals were a big part of their lives. For some, conversations also occurred with trees, and with rocks; some tell of the capability for shape-shifting (changing from human form to animal and back). I’m not up to a debate as to whether these stories are literally true or not. What’s interesting to me is that, today, we seem to have diverged so far from that connection with nature that we’d relegate such topics to the occult, refusing even the consideration. But along with the refusal goes the possibility and power they represented, whether literal or metaphorical. Either way, we’ve lost a piece of who we are, the piece that could open us to a world far bigger than “right here, right now.”


Openings to New Possibility

Available for you:

  • The Road Not Taken Community, a no-cost subscription that offers you connection, interaction, challenge, and learning. See articles, newsletters and blogs; you’ll find “new stuff” here regularly. I welcome comments and conversation; this kind of dialogue is an example of how we may all learn together.
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  • The Road Not Taken newsletters (11 years, 132 issues of Purposeful Wanderings) available here as a pdf file.  
  • Photo images from my travels available here on fun products – note cards, coffee mugs – great gift ideas.

An invitation to possibility: If you have the courage and determination to step apart from the crowd and challenge conventional thinking, so you can live instead with authenticity and freedom, contact me for a conversation that can shift your thinking forever. I will help you reach a level of clarity and perspective – about yourself, others, your life, your work and the world – that allows you to live your truth, every day. Trade the way it is for the way it could be.

Book of the month Courageous Dreaming, by Alberto Villoldo.  Subtitled “How Shamans Dream the World into Being,” this book might be a good accompaniment to this month’s article. It offers beautifully written perspective and insight into the power of our own consciousness to create the world we want to experience. Each of us has levels of consciousness far deeper than the level required to get through an ordinary day, but if we experience only the ordinary, we never tap these more powerful levels. In them, however, is the key to creating any world we can imagine. Given the unconscious slumber our world is in, it’s easy to reject his ideas. But that just ensures the slumber continues. Life is a choice, a choice based in the power of thought – to dream the world into being. …  And, if you’re on Cape Cod, you’ll find this book available at the Market Street Bookshop in Mashpee Commons – 508-539-6985.

Download May 2013 pdf


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Heidi Champagne April 29, 2013 at 8:53 am

Thank you, Brad….what a beautiful light you shine in this world!

Nicki LeMarbre April 29, 2013 at 10:15 am

Love this!! Dreaming and imagination in my world view are Crucial!! They always lead me to more joy and peace in my life! And I highly recommend child-like behavior…I just spent the weekend chalk drawing in Hyannis and LOVED every moment of it…getting down on the ground and creating something out of nothing. Its contagious too.
Thank you Brad for being the wonderful & inspiring You!!

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