We all have dreams – work we want to do, influence we’d like to have, places we’d love to see, children we’d love to raise, people we’d like to meet . . . Sometimes these dreams come true; sometimes they don’t. And sometimes they are deferred or delayed. This group of blogs shares the stories of dreams deferred by members of two writing groups I lead in Holland, MI. In this post, our anonymous guest blogger three dreams, one rather whimsical and two that are life-changing. For other posts in this category go to the home page and click on the category A Dream Deferred on the right hand sidebar.
As I was sitting at my desk, thinking of a dream that had not become reality, I realized I was looking at one. (I say this with a smile.) This is the fact: I cannot keep my desk clean. It is always full of stuff – clutter or important papers – never clear. I am believer that if there is a flat empty area near or on your desk it should be used. Something should be on it otherwise it is wasted space. All things creative or just plain work should be nearby and handy. And so a clean desk is a dream of mine that is always and forever a dream delayed.
A clean or cluttered desk does not, however, quality for the intensity or the importance of what it means to have a dream that is deferred. A dream deferred is about life. Maybe a it is path not taken, not by your will but because of circumstances you cannot control.
After my marriage, I headed down the road of planning a family only to find that road blocked. The dream of bearing children was not only deferred but dried up like a raisin, festered like a sore, sagged and exploded. To begin a family by bearing children was a blocked road. I had to go back to somewhere to start over.
This deferred dream has in many ways defined my life, re-framed my attitudes, and gifted me with new vistas. Occasionally, I will clearly see the end of that road as I did when I was first faced with it. But, a lifetime of living with that deferred dream has also lent a clearer and brighter visual field for my mind and heart.
My third deferred dream is not a dream but a conversation. And it was not deferred; it never happened. It was a conversation that I never had, but will never forget.
On a Sunday evening twenty-nine years ago, when I was thirty-eight years old, I was at the home of my parents. My Mom had gone to church and I was staying with my Dad who had been diagnosed with cancer and was facing his last days. It was a beautiful summer evening and we were having casual conversation. The weather, church, family, garden, trees, farming, music, these were all topics we enjoyed talking about. I remember his sweet smile and soft voice.
Then he wheeled his wheelchair next to me and with a little grin he said, “You know, we have to get that big tree cut down on our cemetery plot before the next person has to be buried.” I remember his eyes meeting mine. He had opened the door wide open for me to say anything. Anything about dying, his death, about how much I would miss him, how much his family would miss him. There was a moment as he waited for me to say something meaningful, anything meaningful for him, meaningful for me. I don’t remember if I said anything or if there was silence. Either way, the door closed on a possible loving and tender conversation. I have never forgotten how I felt as he looked away and backed up his wheelchair. His gentle way of knowing I was not courageous enough to talk with him about something that was on his heart and mind. The moment was deferred and gone forever.
Three dreams deferred. One is silly, one changed the direction of my life, and one has taught me the importance of being ready and brave enough to have certain conversations. Deferred dreams are real, and the direction we take after them can make all the difference. “What happens to a dream deferred?” Does it dry up or does it explode into another direction?