If you’ve seen the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind (and if not, you should), you’ll probably recognize the monolithic rock outcropping in the shot above. Richard Dreyfus‘ character, Roy Neary, has an experience that plants an image in his mind, one he is drawn to recreate. The image is that of Devil’s Tower, where he goes to have a more meaningful and complete experience.
It is a metaphor for life, if you think about it. We have dreams. We have visions. When we’re younger, we don’t think about whether we “can” or “can’t”. We like to say that we’re too young and stupid to know we can’t.
As we get older, we start to worry about the sensibility of our dreams. How responsible we are supposed to be. And we let the dreams slide away from us and disappear.
Others take a different route. They live only in their dreams. Their dreams become nightmares. Roy Neary followed the visions in his head to the point of driving away his family. They just couldn’t understand his obsession. But in the real world, these are the folks who cannot see any version of the world that isn’t their dream. And when reality doesn’t conform to their picture of how life should be, they resort to other means to keep up that image. And this is the stuff of nightmares.
But losing the dreams entirely is a whole other nightmare. It’s living in a world devoid of possibility, without hope. It’s slogging through our daily lives without giving ourselves the possibility of seeing the beauty and joy there can be, if only we’d allow ourselves to see it.
When I was younger, I was the dreamer who couldn’t be told no. I took charge of a situation and I got it done, especially if someone said it couldn’t be done. That wasn’t an admonition to me – it was a challenge, an invitation.
Life has a way of trying to stifle that. You get kicked in the teeth, in the ass, in the tender bits. You start to doubt. And that doubt turns to belief. You question your worthiness. You settle for less, because you no longer believe you deserve it. You create your own quiet nightmare.
We’re better than that. We deserve better, all of us. We deserve to be happy, to feel joy. We deserve to dream.
It’s a scary thing, because dreaming means we have to allow ourselves the opportunity to be hurt. Kind of an odd phrase, I know, “opportunity to be hurt”, like it’s something we want. But the fact is, we should want that opportunity. We don’t want the hurt, but without putting ourselves out there where we might get hurt, we’ll never fully experience the joy that comes with not getting hurt. We need to create the opportunity, the possibility that we might get hurt, to take that chance, to allow the dream a shot at becoming reality.
It’s taken me a ling time to truly learn that. Too long. But I’m starting to dream again.