I love the song, “Things That Stop You Dreaming,” by Passenger. To be fair, I love all of his music and I often find his lyrics to be really thought- and emotion-provoking content.
Well, if you can't get what you love,
You learn to love the things you've got.
If you can't be what you want,
You learn to be the things you're not.
If you can't get what you need,
You learn to need the things that stop you dreaming.
Oh, the things that stop you dreaming.
It’s kind of bittersweet, you know? I mean, don’t get me wrong: I really believe in having an attitude of gratitude and I understand the importance of not missing your life because you’re too busy living in someday. Constantly scanning the horizon for your boat to come in means you’re going to miss an awful lot of what’s happening right underneath your feet, in the here and now. Right here, right now.
At the same time, though, I see no reason to give up on your dreams just because you’ve crossed some imaginary line in the sand, be it that you’re a grown-up according to the year on your driver’s licence, or because you have kids and therefore it’s selfish to want happiness for yourself beyond providing for them, or because in this economy, you know you should just be grateful to have the job you’ve got... Do any of these sound familiar?
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It’s great to love what you’ve got. After all:
But, why does love have to be contained, limited to just what you’ve got? I’m pretty sure that love is a renewable resource. The most renewable resource actually. It grows the more you give away. Why could you learn to be something, but not the thing you wanted to be? Why is it that getting a need fulfilled means you learn to quell desire, to stamp out the dream in your heart?
We tell ourselves that it’s this or that. Black or white. My way or the highway. Our society, the same one that nurtures the dreams of children, but then tells those children to stop playing make believe when they’re old enough to vote, teaches us to fill the voids with stuff, or busy-ness, or should haves and need-tos. To make do and get used to lowering that bar. To settle. It’s all based on fear, on what if and not enough. We put our heads down, doing what we need to do (I’m using the term “need to do” pretty loosely here) and distracting ourselves from what we are missing out.
It’s actually kind of ironic: We’re afraid of losing, missing out and not having enough, so we run ourselves ragged chasing “enough”. You know what that means? It means we pay a price. We lose; we miss out, on an experience of life that is actually what it’s all about. We lower our expectations for life and we make our world, and our experience of it, a little smaller.
Whose rules are these anyway? Why do some people get to live your dreams, while you need to stop dreaming and get real? What’s real? What if, instead of this OR that, it’s this AND that? Shades of grey, or heck, a whole rainbow in between?
As for me, I learned to be safe, to be stable, instead of following my dreams and doing the thing that made my heart sing. The result is an uneasiness, a sorrow in my heart, boredom and itchy feet. I live in gloomy adjectives: discouraged, disenchanted, depressed. Frustrated. Dissatisfied (which leads me to attack things that are safe to attack: my relationships with the people I love and with my own spirit). I’m ready to fight. I tickle with the sense that I am struggling against a system, when really, I’m struggling against myself and the walls I’ve built to keep me in.
That being said, I’m not saying it’s a one trick pony/unicorn-pegasus: Maybe some dreams don’t come true; at least, not in the way you envision. But that’s okay. You don’t get one chance to live your life your way. New dreams take root all the time.
So, ask yourself: What did you learn to love and what did you love but never get? What did you want to be and what did you learn to be, instead? What did you learn to need so that you would stop dreaming? What things stop you from dreaming?