As the Cooper brothers sang, “Dreams never die, just the dreamer”. Growing up, most of us had huge dreams and unrealistic expectations. We dreamed of being rock stars and rich tycoons. The world lay before us, our oyster as the cliché goes, and anything was possible.
Then reality kicked us between the legs and throat-punched some of our dreams.
If you’re anything like me, and I know I am, then you have realized that life has not always turned out the way you thought it would. I had no idea that I would be living and doing the things I am now. It’s not a bad life, it’s just a different one.
Time has a way of healing hurts, or so the cognitive distortion goes. It also has a way of killing dreams and shoving reality in your face. That storybook romance you signed up for has turned out, after a number of mind-numbing years, to be a series of boring and hurtful years with someone who does not understand you and never will. By now, if you are close to forty, you have a storehouse of trauma to deal with, or not deal with. The older you get the harder it is to be an optimist. We become realists about life, or pessimists, if we are honest enough to admit it. If you have ever found yourself almost yelling at a wedding, “Don’t do it!”, then I’m talking to you.
I have developed a theory which I call the “37 year itch”. This theory propounds that somewhere around the age of 37-45 women (and obviously some men) who are married or in a long-term relationship wake up one morning and look at the aging, snoring, drooling person beside them and realize that they do not want to spend the rest of their life waking up to this schmuck. The children are in school now, their career has been stunted, and the thought of forty more years with Mr. Entertainment is too much. You would be shocked at the number of marriages that end when the players are in their late thirties and early forties. A majority of these break-ups are initiated by the woman (in a heterosexual relationship… and obviously in a lesbian relationship…).
Dreams never die – if only it were so. Some of us become afraid to dream any more. Dreams can remind us of our failures, of opportunities lost, of hopes deferred.
It’s not too late to dream again. Your mature dreams may not involve superpowers or thirty-day orgasms, but they can still be amazing. Every time I hear of a fifty year old going back to university or a grandfather dating again I believe in dreams. Every time a woman has the guts to try again, or a person believes they can be whole again, I believe in dreams. Here’s to everyone who didn’t have the brains to stop while you were behind, who started something wonderful, who faced down their fears and rebuilt their world. Here’s to those of you who are too stupid to quit. It is a powerful thing when someone dares to hope.
Here’s to hope.
I love this quote from Shawshank Redemption. Red, the narrator, is finally released from prison after a lifetime of incarceration and decides to get on with living, ” I find I’m so excited, I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it’s the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend, and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope.”
May you be free.