Dream. Let nothing dim the light that shines within you. – Maya Angelou
What does that mean?
To me, this quote says that we all have an inner light, a dream, within us. This is something important for each of us to know, nurture, and empower. What is a dream, if not a heartfelt desire to achieve an outcome? We all have dreams, but how many still shine bright, and how many have become dim?
This quote urges us to keep the light bright, and to never forget what we desire to accomplish. It urges us to stay focused on our dreams and hold them closely no matter what. Life, people, conditions and circumstances will conspire to dim that light over time. But if we can stay focused and maintain our dream, the light will shine brightly. Both within you, and for all the world to see.
Why is having a dream important?
Would you ask that question of Dr Martin Luther King? Perhaps you have a different definition of a dream, one that implies a pleasant thought rather than a driving or motivating force. In my interpretation of the quote, the word dream means a powerful, driving and motivating force, and that is how I will use the word in this post.
Dreams are what move us forward when all else seems to be against us. It’s the spark that lights our way in the darkest hours of our lives. It’s what keeps us hopeful when everyone else says to give up. It’s what warms us from the inside, when the world is cold and hostile.
Having a dream is how one justifies our existence. Acting on the dream justifies having a life. Having a dream and not letting it go dim requires us to act on it, lest it become dim, or worse yet, go out.
Where can I apply this in my life?
Please note that there is a difference between a dream and just wanting something. A dream might be equality for all, or peace for mankind. Wanting something might be a really nice car or a big TV or the latest gaming system. I hope that makes sense to you. While both might motivate you, I think you can tell the difference between the source of the motivation.
Don’t think, though, that dreams cannot be self-centered. What about the kid who dreams of being the first in their family to get to college? That is both self-centered and a dream, right? What about the person who dreams of starting their own business?
How bright are your dreams? What lights your way when all seems dark? Do they shine so brightly that others can see the light radiating from you, or do you look like the light has left your eyes? Have you lost sight of your dreams? Have you failed to act on them for a long time?
Now that we have got a better handle on what a dream is, I’ll ask the question: What is your dream (or What are your dreams)? Think all the way back to your childhood, what were some of your dreams? Did you want to be Superman so you could fly, bust the bad guys, or be bullet proof? Some of those dreams might still be real, only you can tell for sure.
I would also caution that many new dreams may have sprung up and obscured some of your older dreams. When I had kids, my focus changed from dreams for me to dreams for them and the future. While that’s well and good, it has starved me a little for self-fulfillment, so don’t forget to review dreams you had in earlier phases of your life.
What can you do to make these dreams more real, to help them burn brighter? If you dream of world peace, but are not at peace within yourself, how bright will your light ever be? Perhaps you can start small and local with your dream, and build it’s strength and brightness by honing your skills within yourself and your community.
What will it take to build the light of some of your dimmer dreams? Have you examined why you had the dream? Like the Superman example above, once you know why (and ask over and over again until you have truly reached the bottom of the reasons), perhaps you can find another way to achieve the dream, something more appropriate to your present beliefs and abilities.
This turned out to be a difficult topic for me to work through. While I had plenty of newer dreams, I found several from years back (to childhood) that had become very dim. I will be working on how to get their brightness back in the weeks and months to come.
But that’s why we examine ourselves, right? The exercise won’t always be easy, and the path not always obvious, but the effort is always rewarded. And always remember to keep your dreams alive, and keep your light shining brightly!