Living the good dream

Two days ago, at 5:27 PM Central Time, a baby girl was born.  The look on my brother Tim’s face as he held his first grandchild is priceless — deep loving eyes looking at the camera as he cradles the new little dreamer, her eyes half open.

We have so many dreams for babies, dreams that we create and mold for them out of deep love. But do dreams ever come true? Do the dreams that we had as babies, as children, as young adults, ever come true, or are we just spinning our wheels, victim to the whims of time and space?

1962I look at a photo of another baby girl, this one strapped in a chair, red puffy top over white puffy bottoms. The eyes, nose, and mouth are recognizable. What is she smiling at? What is she thinking?, this baby girl, because she is thinking. What dreams do her parents have for her?

1968In the next photo, she is in first grade, before the “cat eye years.” What is she looking at? Is she trying to be Mommy and Daddy’s good little girl, squinting to follow the photographer’s pointing finger.  “Look at my nose,” he says. But his nose and her world are one big foggy mess.

In the next photo, the girl holds a trophy. She won first place in the eighth grade science fair for a project called “Making Color from Black and White.” Dad had helped 1976her of course. Ask her how the magic worked and she will shrug her shoulders saying she was just along for the ride. But a fun ride it was, making believers out of “Doubting Thomas” teachers who said it couldn’t be done until they saw with their own eyes that it could.

The girl grows up and eventually graduates from college. The trophy now — a bottle of champagne, still her favorite drink. She knows what comes next — graduate school at Georgetown University and a bright white future.

1988She dreams of becoming a spy or a diplomat, working behind the scenes to make the world a better place. She will get a good job, meet a nice man, get married. Kids? No, thanks. She never liked them much.

Where did this young woman and her dreams go? How did they die? And was it first degree murder or involuntary manslaughter?

The irony is that if I could go back and relive my life, I wouldn’t change a thing. And so I would end up exactly where I am today: living in a tin can, albeit a very nice tin can. (“No offense, Pegasus” — “None taken,” he replies with a wink and a nod.)

But where I am today is not where the girls holding the trophy or champagne ever dreamed they would be. Not in a trillion years. Not in their dreams.  They didn’t know that dreams die and become life.

“What dreams do you have now?” you challenge, “You still must have some dreams?”

Good question. I close my eyes, elbows on the table, fists on either side of my chin. This is my list:

  1. Find happiness and peace.
  2. Don’t forget to love.
  3. Be open to the possibilities.
  4. Believe in miracles.
  5. Smile at strangers.
  6. Be good to myself.
  7. Never, ever give up.

No dreams of meeting that perfect man, that Prince Charming on his white steed who will save me. No dreams of making a million dollars and living off the interest. No dreams of happily ever after.

I believe that most people — regardless of where they live, what they do, how much money they make, their skin color, sexual orientation, or religion — dream the same dreams.  My dream is your dream is their dream is our dream. When one dream dies, with a bang or a sigh, can we dream yet another? Can we keep on dreaming?