“Hang on to your dream” one man shouted. “Don’t let go” a lady cried out. “Keep dreaming big” a voice could be heard from the crowd. “Stay focused” another man yelled. “Believe in yourself” an elderly woman exclaimed. Sounds like encouraging advice, right? Now, picture these motivational slogans given to a man who is holding on to the rear bumper of a Greyhound bus as it starts to drive away. Inside the bus is his former girlfriend accompanied by her new husband, both traveling to their new home across the country. The man has two choices; hold on to his dream until he becomes “road spaghetti,” or let go.
I saw an older gentleman recently performing on the street at a Pittsburgh festival. He had a tiny Karaoke player and a microphone. He was singing crooner songs in the style of Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. The problem was, he was terrible. People walked by and laughed at him. I’m sure being a singer has always been his dream. I’ll give him credit for his boldness and tenacity. He was singing for thousands of passersby, but I have a feeling his intention was not to have them laughing at him like he was a big joke. I have a friend who is in his late sixties. At one time he was in a 50’s Doo Wop group. His dream was to be a famous teen idol, and at that time he had a good shot at it. Of course, that time has long gone, but he still sings at nursing homes and having a blast. To the folks he sings for he is a teen idol. He simply adjusted his dream and is having the time of his life.
Having a dream is a good thing, but knowing when to let go or at least adjust a dream can be an important step in one’s life as well. We sometimes need to simply face the facts. Many people daydream about what they’re going to do after they win the lottery. It becomes an obsession. Debts mount up but they know when they hit the lottery everything is going to be all right.
Like Juan Ponce de León, others are searching for the Fountain of Youth. Their dream is to stay forever young. No matter how many surgeries one gets, eventually there is just no escaping getting old. I often dream I have beautiful, thick hair only to awaken, look in the mirror, and find a middle-aged, balding man looking back at me! I regularly go to the gym and I’m in better physical condition than most guys my age, but I’ll never be a young Sylvester Stallone (Rocky). Shoot, let’s face it, I’m never even going to be an old Sylvester Stallone (Expendables)!
Sadly, some lonely hearts are dreaming of that perfect mate to fall out of the sky and drop into their laps. Honestly, it’s time for some guys to get real. If you’re an overweight, balding, middle-aged man, chances are you are not going to marry some twenty-something “hottie” unless you have millions of dollars to impress her. Yet, I have heard guys my age talk as if they could get a young lady anytime they want to. Come on now! On the other hand, I know a few guys in their fifties who married wonderful women they met on legitimate dating websites. They let go of their fantasy of just meeting that special someone by chance one day on the commute home from work, or in the produce isle at the grocery store. They adjusted their dream, got busy, logged-in, and got a date!
If your dream hasn’t taken off after decades have passed, it may be time to do what the lyrics of a Van Halen song says, “Dream another dream. This dream is over.” Don’t stay stuck in an elusive dream like the lyrics in a Jack Johnson song describe, “I was sitting, waiting, wishing…” I’ve come to a stage in my life where I realize certain things are just never going to happen. It’s okay, because I’m just adjusting my dreams to my present reality. Tennis legend and social activist, Arthur Ashe said it best, “To achieve greatness, start where you are, use what you have, do what you can.”
Frankly, some of our “dreams” are really just selfish desires for wealth, fame and pleasure. Some of those dreams only focus on our temporal life in this world and take no thought for our lives in eternity. The Bible has this to say about those kind of dreams, “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit’;whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.’But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil” James 4:13-16 NKJV. The Bible doesn’t oppose ambition; just selfish ambition. “But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying.For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic.For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind” James 3: 14-16 NLT.
I’m not trying to discourage anyone from following their dreams, but occasionally I feel it is wise to stop and take a long, hard look at your dreams and see if they are still achievable, or if they are even worth pursuing―especially in the light of eternity. Maybe it’s time to stop chasing that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and simply start enjoying the beauty of the rainbow.