Last week I posted an essay about my dreams for the world, coincident with Martin Luther King Day. Serendipitously, the next day my niece emailed family and friends soliciting dreams for her seven-year-old son. My nephew’s been waking from bad dreams so mom’s compiling a Good Dreams Jar from which he can choose an uplifting idea each night before bed. After contemplating what a caring and creative mother my niece is, I got on task. Within minutes I realized there was scant correlation between the dreams I wished for on MLK Day and those I offered my nephew.
I dreamed that every person had a fair stake in this world. I dreamed that my nephew slept all night with a puppy in his arms.
I dreamed that everyone had basic shelter. I dreamed that his hero Emmet came over and they built the entire world of The Lego Movie.
I dreamed that everyone had enough food. I dreamed that he had a bowl of ice cream that filled itself after every spoonful.
I dreamed that education and economic opportunity were universal. I dreamed he grew so tall his feet hung off the bed.
I dreamed the dreams of a man pushing sixty, blessed with friends, family and creature comforts that derived from luck as much as effort. Simple, though unlikely, dreams to spread my bounty and create more balance in the world.
For my nephew, I dreamed the dreams of a boy pushing eight. A boy wanting to be bigger, to be noticed, to know how he was different from others, if not downright better.
Making this list of dreams two days apart for two different generations made me realize how difficult it is to reconcile human aspiration. Wishing for equal justice is not the opposite of wishing to make the winning soccer goal, but the desire to be champ can undermine fairness. After all, this dream thinking occurred the same week as the New England Patriot’s deflate-gate brouhaha.
Youthful dreams must be personal – they reflect our quest to know who we are. As we age, our dreams can be more far-reaching, but only if our circumstances allow. If I were homeless or hungry, those immediate needs would command my dream list.
If my nephew is lucky, his good dream jar will lead him to better sleep. He will grow into a teenager and dream of having his own wheels, then a man with dreams of career and family prospects. Eventually, I hope his dreams will look like mine of today, dreams of sharing based in gratitude. By then my own dreams will likely contract. I’ll dream of keeping my teeth intact and my mind firm and my bed sheets dry.
While his son and his grandson’s dreams will include unending ice cream.