when dreams die

December 21, 2014

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.

The lines to this poem, by Langston Hughes, have been running through my head this week. But the lesson I had to learn, so far as I can tell, from this vantage point in my life at least, was in fact to let the dream go. For now. Who knows what the future may hold but, whatever it is for this next year at least, is not what I had in mind. For quite a few years now, I have been nursing a dream. It was put on hold, for practical reasons having to do with the work assignment I ended up with . . . and that was ok. I was more than busy enough to let it rest.
But now, this year, I dove back into it—rather, we dove back into it. The two of us, excited in the pursuit that we thought would occupy us for some time. This past week, the door was closed. I was, quite frankly, crushed. I spent a few days alternating between weepy spurts and robot-like work-as-usual. I did not get it. Why? I have been asking. Why did it seem so obvious, so exciting, so perfect. The perfect plan. MY perfect plan. Ah, yes—there’s the rub. It was MY plan. I assumed that it must be His plan as well. Surely, if as a couple we are both looking towards the same idea, it must be the right one. Right?
Wrong. I have a long way to go, I expect, before really understanding why not. And the truth is that my reaction was at first not accepting it. I saw the door closed, envisioned a blank slate of a future in its place, and panicked. I started searching frantically for the next door to take its place; I went into a stress-response of hyperactivity. In my old modus operandi, this would likely have worked. I am accustomed to rapid life transitions and quick turnarounds. But this time, it’s not just me. It took some touch couple-hashings-out for me to come to terms with the fact that, just because something may have worked for me as a single woman does not mean it will work for us as a married couple. This time, we are a team, and we must orchestrate our strategic lines of offense and defense accordingly. Once we began the teamwork process, I realized that my initial ideas of alternative planning were not necessarily conducive to our life-together plan. I had to push a pretty major, pretty heavy “pause” button . . . and let the dream, as I had envisioned it, die.
The unexpected part of this process, however, was that before making what would have seemed like a let-down decision to me, I was unsettled and on edge. Afterwards, however—once accepting a “normal” future that would have felt like settling for less—I felt an unexpected calm: a sort of inner exhale. I was ok. We were ok . . . and we will be ok.
Perhaps, in my world:

Hold loose your life
For He who holds firm
will offer new dreams:
the kind that can’t die.

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