The Excavation of our Dreams

A Dream Deferred
by Langston Hughes

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

In the beginning
When we were five years old, we wanted to be astronauts and princesses and firemen who saved the lives of people in terrible trouble. We had big dreams and no reason to believe these dreams were unreasonable.

Time marched on
Somehow, becoming a princess fell off the “to do” list. We were busy getting good grades, putting ourselves through university, paying the rent. We became realists.
“When I was a child I spoke as a child I understood as a child I thought as a child; but when I became a man I put away childish things.” I Cor. xiii. 11.

The problem
Most of us feel that our work matters… and most of us are good at what we do. We pay our rent or mortgage on time and are VERY responsible citizens. But there are moments when we think (mostly to ourselves) that there must be more to life than this. I am reminded of the words of the speaker at my undergraduate convocation… he was a pretty old guy, and his speech didn’t mean much to me in my early twenties, but he said, “When you are on your death bed, the last thing that you are going to wish is that you had spent more time at work.”

A stitch in time saves nine
I get that now… and I definitely spend less time at work. Making the decision to complete everything (both planning and marking) at school during school hours has paid off. Although I am not always able to walk out of school with an empty book bag, my success rate has improved exponentially since Mexico. I found a great article about making better use of the work day… it is called “The Four-Day Week Challenge” @ CJ, you could have written this!

Saved stitches
So what shall we do with the time we manage to claw back from our work week? (I have an image of the Dutch industriously reclaiming their land from the ocean).

Just yesterday, I was having lunch with a colleague and we quickly managed to steer our little conversation-boat into very choppy waters. I mentioned that a woman who had been a brand new curriculum coordinator when I started teaching in Mexico has just been named this year’s “National Distinguished Principal” by the American Office of Overseas Schools. My colleague, who is a fantastic writer, confessed that two people with whom she went to university are now published authors; one is a poet and the other is a writer of travel fiction. We had ourselves a grand little pity party, lamenting our lack of productivity and the passing of years we won’t get back.

Film maker Federico Fellini would say, “Put yourself into life and never lose your openness, your childish enthusiasm throughout the journey that is life, and things will come your way.” (I have been reading about Fellini recently… he lived with awesome passion).

Living spherically
My five-year old self beckons; she is jumping up and down with delight. We have many good years left… what shall we do with them? The princess dreams are gone but better dreams jump up up to take their place:
– live in a house with a wrap-around porch
– visit Italy
– go dancing more often
– don’t pay any attention to fashion
– grow my hair long
– be more experimental with new food. (Try everything… except liver and shell fish).
– smile at strangers (DP is much better at this than I am)

So here I am blogging and getting back into the habit of writing something other than curriculum, lesson plans and letters of recommendation. There is time to make some dreams come true. Better late than never.

Leave a Reply