Follow Your Dream


All great journeys start with a dream (Ozzie Smith) 

We all have dreams. Usually while we’re asleep. Such dreams could be more hurtful than helpful. For example, imagine dreaming you’re eating shredded wheat, only to wake up and find half the mattress gone! Well, I’m not talking about that type of dream. Rather, I’m thinking about one’s vision, aspiration, or fervent hope for the future. Our dream is the song of our soul. Life without one is reduced to a hollow existence. But life with a dream is filled with meaning and purpose.

Besides being the drummer and chief lyricist for the rock band "Rush," Neil Peart is also an author and philosopher. Look at how beautifully he expresses the relationship between life and a dream: "Life is just a candle and a dream must give it flame." Richard M. DeVos, the founder of Amway Corp., also writes about the flame of hope: "No life is more tragic than that of the individual who nurses a dream, an ambition, always wishing and hoping, but never giving it a chance to happen. He nurses the flickering dream, but never lets it break out into flame."

Back-flipping Ozzie (Osborne Earl) Smith, was known for his amazing athletic ability and for his record shattering performance in baseball. He used his dream to lift him out of the ghetto, overcome stuttering, graduate college, and become baseball’s greatest fielding shortstop. He was known as the "Wizard" and often compared himself to the characters in "The Wizard of Oz." Like the Scarecrow he wanted a mind that would nurture a dream; like the Tin Man he wanted a heart that would cling to belief (in himself), like the Lion, he wanted the courage to persevere, and like Dorothy, he wanted to go beyond the rainbow. At his induction to baseball’s Hall of Fame, he said, "All great journeys start with a dream."

Neil Peart, Richard M. DeVos, and Ozzie Smith recognized that life is a journey. To get from where they were to where they wanted to be, they followed their dream. What distinguishes them from those who stand on the sidelines is their understanding that the only limitations we face are those of our own creation, or those we allow others to place in our mind. Once we follow our dream, our life changes; we are transformed. For as baseball pitcher Satchel Paige (1906 ~ 1982) said, "Ain't no man can avoid being average, but there ain't no man got to be common." No, we don’t have to be common, we can change all that by following our dream.

Most of us have a dream, aspiration, or heart’s desire. But the trouble is most of us have the on/off switch of our dream set to OFF. Whenever we say, "I can’t," we set the switch to OFF. Whenever we believe we can, we set the switch to ON. Simple, isn’t it? Just because I believe I can do something doesn’t mean there won’t be any problems. But once I believe I can do it, I will seek solutions for every problem I stumble on. And since it is a law of life that we find what we look for, if I look for solutions, I will find them.

Any worthy dream is a dream worthy of accomplishing. Once I realize I can do it, the next step is to make a commitment. As soon as we make a commitment, great power is released. What seemingly were insurmountable hurdles are now reduced to obstacles of laughable insignificance. But we won’t reach this stage until we decide to stop talking and start acting. Unless we commit ourselves, self-doubt will ferment and block our way.

Our dreams don’t have to be grand to be great. We don’t have to become the world’s greatest pianist, an Olympic medal winner, or an internationally acclaimed superstar. An aunt of mine sold gloves in a department store for most of her life. Her dream was to be the friendliest and most helpful salesperson around. Year after year, the same customers would return and deliberately seek her out. She brightened everyone’s day and touched the lives of thousands. Was her dream any less significant than that of a prominent person? Of course not. We all have the power to follow a dream that will make a difference to us and those we meet. As writer, lyricist Joe Darion (1911 ~ 2001) wrote in "The Impossible Dream" (featured in "Man of La Mancha"):

"And I know if I'll only be true, to this glorious quest,
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm,
when I'm laid to my rest ...
And the world will be better for this:
That one man, scorned and covered with scars,
Still strove, with his last ounce of courage,
To reach ... the unreachable star ..."

What do we say to those who are in impossible circumstances, locked behind prison bars? They may be stripped of their dignity and freedom, but they are not stripped of power. They can still dream. Yes, they have made mistakes, but starting from today, they can make the world a better place by making themselves better people. It is not an impossible dream, and it is a great dream, one worthy of following.

Before our dreams can come true, don’t we have to dream? Isn’t there a good reason for dreaming? After all, how can we travel any further than our dream? How can we become any greater than our dream? Author of "As a Man Thinketh," James Allen (1864 ~ 1912) expressed the same idea, "Dream lofty dreams, and as you dream, so shall you become. Your vision is the promise of what you shall one day be; your ideal is the prophecy of what you shall at last unveil."

Another law of life is we are never given a dream unless we have the power to realize it. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have to work at it. So, although we want to dream, we don’t want to oversleep. When we dream during our sleep, our mind both creates and experiences the dream. Similarly, when awake, we create our dream, and if we follow it, we will experience it. In other words, if we create and follow our dream, it will create us.

No dreamer is too small; no dream is too big, so hold on to your dream. Poet Langston Hughes (1902 ~ 1967) tells why, "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." Even the cartoon character Jiminy Cricket has some good advice to offer, "When your heart is in your dream, no request is too extreme." So, what are you waiting for? Follow your dream!

© Chuck Gallozzi
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