Monday, December 3, 2012

What It Means to Dream

I've been thinking a lot about dreams.  No, not the kind you have while you sleep - I mean, the kind you write down on the lists of your heart, the kind you work and plan for, the kind you stay up all night studying for, the kind you want to achieve because you just don't think you could live happily if you didn't.

Everyone has a lot of advice on dreams like these.  I've heard some of them...
My least favorite one:

"Shoot for the moon.  Even if you miss, you'll still land among the stars."  -Author unknown
{Oh, really?  And on what surface exactly would you be "landing" on?  Is there a secret, hidden bed of happiness where people go after just missing their dream?  I get the central point of it, but do we really need to cheese it up with all the celestial talk?!}
By contrast, a few of my faves:

"Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude."  -Benjamin Franklin  {Obvious genius!}

"Energy and persistence conquer all things."  -Benjamin Franklin  {Undeniable genius!!}
Ah, yes!  There it is!  The secret to achieving goals - which really isn't that big of a secret - is persistence.  The dictionary defines persistence as "firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.    

{If you're now thinking:  Ok, Dream Weaver, what's this got to do with literature?!  Just hold your horses!}

Lately, I have been struggling to persevere.  Even though I know it isn't the case, I have felt like I am completely alone and like no one on the planet understands how hard it is to keep trying for a dream but never get it.  

After a few days of wallowing around in my own personal pity pool {and subsequently, procrastinating on a bunch of school stuff}, I finally managed enough focus to complete one assignment for my ENGL112 class.

I read Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun. And boy, am I glad I did.

I'm not going to go into all the details of the story - although I think it's a great one - but I do want to talk a little about my favorite character, Ruth Younger.

Like practically everyone, Ruth has dreams.  They might seem simple to others, but, to her, they are mighty mountains to move.  She wants a house for her family.  She wants her marriage to survive despite the many rough patches and arguments.  She wants more.  And just when it seems like God has given her family a hand-up, another thing pushes them back down.  {Don't even act like you've never used the phrase "One step forward, and two steps back" to describe your own lack of goal achievement...}  When it would be so simple and understandable for Ruth to just throw her hands up and quit trying, she does just the opposite.  She digs her heels in, she finds her voice, and she proclaims that they will proceed.  Ruth Younger exemplifies persistence.

Sometimes literature surprises you.  A story can be good for a laugh, or a cry.  It can teach about another culture or place.  It can even teach you about you!

For almost a week, I had allowed myself to take a break from persistence.  I had been sitting around just thinking about how badly I wanted to achieve my dreams. 

The fact is that one of the necessary steps to obtaining one of my dreams was completing that blasted assignment!  Had I been persevering like my BFBF {Best Friend, Benjamin Franklin - duh!} instructed, I would have swiftly read A Raisin in the Sun.  I could have saved myself all of that unfocused wasting of energy!  I would have immediately realized I needed to buck up and channel my inner Ruth...

Kudos to you, literature!  Thanks for reminding me that nothing comes to those who give up.