Deep into the darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing,Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.
Edgar Allan Poe
You wake up screaming!
Your spouse calms you down; reassuring you it was just another nightmare.
Even as you settle back and start drifting into slumber again, you wonder why the only dreams you have nowadays are bad ones.
What happened to your once fertile imagination that was able to conjure exciting, almost always enjoyable dreams; pleasurable mental movies you could play against the screen of your inner eyelids day or night, awake or asleep?
The problem so many of us face in daily life is one of encroaching walls; figurative rock faces that creep toward us inexorably, leaving us with less and less room to manoeuvre.
If you remember the trash compressor scene in Star Wars where Han Solo, Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker are trapped, we’ll be on the same wavelength!
When we were younger, it seemed our imaginations allowed us to roam the world, making it our stage or better yet our playground.
But we allowed ourselves to grow up – and not always in the right way. Many of us have lost the ability to dream big, great dreams that fuel mental excursions.
And that’s tragic, because those exciting journeys within our skulls are the only things that permit us to grow beyond the normal confines of our too often drab lives.
Thankfully, none of us has totally lost that ability to dream and imagine. I can prove it!
When you’re stuck behind a desk that seems to have grown shackles that attach themselves to your ankles and wrists, don’t you readily dream of a better place, a better way of life?
The problem is those dreams tend not to last too long. Someone or something is always crashing into our reality, bringing us back to earth with a rather hard bump.
But if we want to lay claim to a life that is bigger than the one we now live, we must recapture that long-lost childhood facility to dream good dreams for sustained periods.
You see, being able to see beyond things as they are now, through rosy mists of future probability and then perceiving them as they might be, is the common denominator of life’s big winners.
If they can do it, so can you, because all of humanity shares that God-given endowment. As Stephen Covey puts it, “In addition to self-awareness, we have imagination – the ability to create in our minds beyond our present reality.”
If you use your ability to imagine properly, it will expand into one of the most potent time management tools at your disposal – your capacity to idealise and dream of a better future.
Of course, we all know people who do nothing but dream. I’m not asking you to become such an airhead. I’m saying you need to give yourself permission to look beyond perhaps the grey, drab walls of your existence and ask yourself if this is the rich, abundant life God created you for.
Most people would have to say NO.
That would be a great first step.
The second is to grant yourself permission to daydream actively for short spells at a time – even if it is only for 30 seconds while stuck in a traffic jam. (Of course, if you commute to work using public transport, you have even more time at your disposal.)
So, get a dedicated little notebook and jot down whatever comes to mind during these brief, but precious mental excursions.
MY OWN EXPERIENCE
I remember doing a similar exercise about a decade ago, when I felt trapped in a great paying job that was nonetheless squeezing every drop of joy out of my life.
And so I dreamt and wrote, wrote and dreamt, and then wrote some more.
If you think that a similar exercise will help you detect what’s important to you, then you really should get to know yourself better by tapping into your dream bank.
I consider this so important that Step 2 in my e-book 5 Steps to a Saner Life is DREAM.
Most people know how to dream at night. But they have a problem retaining their far more vital lifetime dreams within a solid framework for awakened review.
Such a pragmatic framework allows those who know how to go about it well to follow up on those dreams, to prioritise them, then to take action on the most exciting ones.
Are you among those who want to recapture lost dreams but are not sure how to do so?
Then, 5 Steps to a Saner Life includes a starter list of such dreams. It contains the outrageous mingled with the challenging and practical.
After a long while of working through practical exercises of dream harvesting, I began noticing a pattern in where my thoughts kept taking me.
I spent a long time charting my dreams and thoughts. Then came the time to stop dreaming and to take action!
I had to gather my courage and walk away from the security of that soul-sapping high-paying job onto a path only dimly lit by the lamp of those written dreams.
Since then, some months, even years, have been very hard. But looking back, it’s been worth it to get from there to here.
I’m not asking you to quit your job. Just to give yourself permission to start to dream again.
And then to have the courage to pursue the right dreams.
In this context, I love what Benjamin Franklin once wrote, “To be thrown upon one’s own resources is to be cast into the very lap of fortune; for our faculties then undergo a development and display an energy of which they were previously unsusceptible.”
And so, the way I see it, finding the courage to reignite your latent ability to dream and having the discipline to record those dreams is just a tiny, tiny step away from giving yourself permission to truly start living again!
© Rajen Devadason