What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
Like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
Like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
Several years ago, I came across this film called Life Or Something Like It. The movie starred Angelina Jolie (with a bad bleach job) and some other people I can’t remember. In fact, there’s absolutely nothing other than the title that I can remember about that film—but for me that’s significant enough. Other than its slightly ironic tone, what I like most about it, is its inference that there is something amiss. There is a disconnect with life, as if it’s not something concrete—hence the “something like it” part. That disconnect goes into a deeper disconnect people have with their own lives. They are physically present, and are alive but are not really living—not in the way they intended or hoped they would. The “dream” got “deferred” so they exist in a world something akin to life.
Now abstract literary observations aside (I didn’t call this blog, Confessions of a Literary Goddess for nothing) the real issue that I think is at hand is dreaming. It should come as no surprise that civilizations for thousands of years have tried to decipher the meaning and purpose for dreaming. Even now, modern science and psychology, still have not been able to figure out why we dream. What is interesting in this debate are the various explanations for dreaming, which range from spiritual or angelic visitations, to manifestations of our subconscious to even alien encounters.
Of course this act of dreaming, which is an unconscious thing (and in my case, very very bizarre) and to dream, which is an aspirational conscious action—are two separate things. However what connects them both is you. Your dreams and your dreaming, irrespective of their purpose, have to do with what is inside of you and what is unique to you. It is your collective thoughts, feelings, impressions, beliefs and perceptions of the world around you. What makes them important are that they can have a profound effect on how you live your life.
You may naturally wonder how a dream about Star Wars can impact your life, but every once in a while you can encounter a dream or its hellish version, the nightmare, that can stay with you for years. It speaks something to you. The fact that psychiatrists—most notably Freud—have made it a point to study them reveals their significance. Although I’m no dream weaver, I suspect that your dreams are made up of all the stuff that encompasses your person and the true secret to your person lies in them. Just like your dreams for yourself are what you most want to be and hope what you will become.
When a dream is deferred or in a lot of cases, permanently ended, it is like a part of ourselves die. Sometimes that death is a slow death, but regardless of its speed, its effects are devastating. The bitterness, the regret, the pessimism are all symptoms of this dying dream. The worst examples are those who resort to violence—on others or themselves. A person who kills themselves is only physically manifesting a death that happened long before. Even if the cause appears immediate somewhere along the line they stopped dreaming.
For me then that’s why I feel it is important to try to live the life you dream to live. It may not match exactly, and could take years to pursue, but it should never be completely abandoned. For to dream is to believe in life—and nothing else like it.