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How To Dream In Difficult Times

The Big Dream

I have a bit of a confession to make. I’m not normally into confessions as a rule, especially not in blogs, but this time I’m making an exception. Just don’t expect any blubbering in my tea. Coffee is much better for blubbering.

So here it is. We live in difficult times. There. I’ve said it. I’m glad that’s over with.

I could make a list but the thing about difficult times is that everyone has a list. The only thing interesting about my list of difficulties is that it began the very day, no, the very instant that I decided to go for my Big Dream. You know the one, the dream that lurks in the back of your imagination and just won’t go away.

“Dreams are extremely important.
You can’t do it unless you imagine it.”
― George Lucas

The Big Bust

There’s something about a big dream that seems to provoke problems. History is filled with such stories. Here’s 26 of them. They’re easy to find because no one gets by without problems.

And while it’s nice to know that legendary people survived in spite of their problems, what about when you don’t feel so legendary yourself. The fact is that reading about Henry Ford’s or Einstein’s problems doesn’t really cheer me up because I don’t think of myself in that crowd.

What about plain old me? How am I supposed to get a dream accomplished when the world seems bent on stamping out the dreams of regular people in order to accomplish some great, historic dream that we would never dream for ourselves.

“There is no success without hardship.”

No Small Dreams

The tendency would be to put your big dream on hold until better times, when dreams don’t seem so far away and you feel more in control.

Or maybe you might want to scale back your dreams to smaller sizes.

But as we’ve already seen in Dream Big vs Dream Small, there are no small dreams because dreams have a way of growing to their proper size, one step at a time. Other people can catch your dream and then it’s bigger than you.

If you’re not dreaming, you’re dying. ~ Rick Warren

Dreaming Against The Wind

Difficult times demand dreams more than any other. Dreams that help you get through. Dreams are what you have when you have nothing else.

Dreams are a very vivid kind of hope. They are faith in visual form. The substance of things believed.

Prisoners and holocaust victims dreamed of tea parties and feasts long before scientific studies showed such vivid dreaming actually reduces hunger. It was a way of visiting a future that contained food.

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
― Eleanor Roosevelt

Dream Competition

Often our difficulties arise because of someone else’s competing dream, people who see you as a small piece of their dream instead of having a dream of your own.

So difficult times call for turning up and clarifying your dream rather than putting it off or dreaming smaller.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” ~ Steve Jobs

Difficulties Inspire Dreams

 Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol out of desperation to pay mounting bills. Alexander Graham Bell’s mother and wife were deaf which led to the creation of the telephone. My greatest lessons came, not during great vacations, but during great problems.

The old saw,”What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” is often true. In fact there was a Study Done In 2010 that found it to be correct in many cases, if you put a lot of stock in studies done by young psychologists itching to get published, which I don’t.

But they also found that it’s not guaranteed.

Dream Work

It’s a struggle to dream in tough times, but it is essential. Your dreams may have to change with the circumstances. When my wife, Suzie, was struggling with multiple cancers, we didn’t dream of big houses, international travel or new cars anymore.

For a while the future disappeared altogether. We were drowning in problems. We dreamed of survival.

But then, in the darkest days, a dream reappeared in the back of my mind. It was a promise that I’d made to Suzie and never found the time to fulfill. Now I wasn’t sure if I’d ever be able to fulfill it.

It hurt like crazy. I thought dreams were supposed to be happy, pleasant things but this one burned in my heart like a hot coal. I swore to myself that if we got even half a chance I’d make it happen somehow.

“Nothing happens unless first a dream.”
Carl Sandburg

Did I make it happen? Yes, I was fortunate to get the chance. What was my dream? It’s too long a story for today. Just insert any one of your dreams here. I’ll get to it sometime.

The point is that dreaming is important, that dreaming in hard times isn’t easy but it is never needed more. My hard-learned lesson is this:

When times get tough, whatever you do, don’t stop dreaming.

Dream harder.

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” – C. S. Lewis


Photo Credit: h.koppdelaney via Compfight cc

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