Each year during graduation season, stories surface about special graduates. I heard one the other day on a radio broadcast. A 92-year old woman was to receive a business degree from a community college. When asked what prompted
her to go back to school, she said, “I felt I still had something to learn.”
Don’t we all?
Last weekend, my sister-in-law and I attended a scholarship event in Michigan where we gave out the Gordy Wuethrich Memorial Scholarship. The auditorium was filled with students eager to begin continuing their education and embark on new careers.
In the essays, many shared their dreams. This part always encourages me. I confess, sometimes it brings a little stab of envy as well — a wish to be young again, to have another chance to chase a dream or two. But then I hear about one of those graduates in their senior years and realize it’s never too late to pursue a dream.
Practically, of course, I know it’s too late for some things. As seniors, we aren’t going to become Navy SEALS, for instance. Some dreams or goals that might have been possible when we were younger may be limited by physical ability and other factors.
But dreams are about more than pursuing a career. Maybe you’ve always dreamed of taking a trip somewhere. Of moving to a specific location or owning a certain kind of house. Is it really too late?
To achieve things we want, we have to first dream. The writer Anatole France said, “To accomplish great things, we must dream as well as act.”
Henry David Thoreau reminds us we need both: “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.” He also said, “It’s not enough to be busy…the question is, what are you busy about?”
Many of us are busy, planning, going, doing for ourselves and others. But sometimes in all that busyness, we feel we are missing something. Maybe it is the pursuit of a dream we’ve set aside or let go, thinking it’s probably impossible anyway.
If we think so, it probably is — unless we revive it and make an effort. Even Mohandas K. Gandhi said, “It is for us to make the effort. The result is always in God’s hands.”
Several years ago, I read a couple books by Henriette Anne Klauser, PhD. One was “Write it Down, Make It Happen,” and the other, “Put Your Heart On Paper.” At the time, we were spending weekends on Keuka Lake. I had a dream about
making the area our full-time residence. I took Klauser’s advice and assembled a booklet where I pasted in photos of the region and family members having fun at our lake camp.
About a year later, we took advantage of an opportunity to make that move. While it didn’t work out long term for reasons too complicated to explain in a brief column, I was stunned when I later found my dream book. I could see that visualizing what we wanted (or thought we did) helped us put feet on a dream. It may have not been completely thought through or the timing wasn’t right, but the words and pictures, in visual form, helped us take positive steps.
Journaling is another way to get your dreams on paper. As you write, you may not realize that you are penning your innermost thoughts. Rereading them later might just help you see what you want and give clues as to how to go after your dreams.
A year or so ago when I was extremely busy — and stressed out — I took a large fluorescent green poster board and did something mentioned in one of Klauser’s books, along with other sources. She called it “branching.” In the center is a key theme.Mine was “Dreams and Plans Still In My Heart.” With branches of related themes, I listed everything I was currently doing as well as what I still wanted
This process allowed me to visualize, one, why I was feeling so stressed, and two, that some activities had to go in order to pursue some dreams. My large
board is all words, but some do this and call them, “Vision boards.” I saw that once on a Hallmark movie as a bride wanted to have everything perfectly planned out for her wedding. The thing is, these are guides, not set in stone.
A senior friend from my writer’s group always wanted to attend a writer’s retreat. She decided to finally take the plunge and is driving, all alone, to a beachside resort for several days of concentrated work on her book. She just came to a place where she realized, if not now, when?
In one of her books, Klauser says, “Think Big — It Works,” as it did with my Keuka adventure. She also said something I really like: “Life is a narrative that you have a hand in writing.” What’s your dream?
(Contact contributor Deb Wuethrich at [email protected].)