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  • Rebecca Stark Thornberry

Don't dream it's over

What is behind your dreams?

I’ve been playing this little game recently. I’ve been allowing myself to dream a little bit. This has not been easy work. My dreams were so far buried, I didn’t even know what they were. That question, ‘If you could do anything, be anything, what would you do?’ made me so frustrated. I felt like I had no soul. I had no idea. I couldn’t answer. So many of us have forgotten our dreams. Abandoned them like a childhood toy that is now collecting dust in someone’s attic. We’ve learned they were silly, unfounded, cute, laughable. Those things are meant for someone else, but not for me. We admire people who have ‘gone for it’ as if they are super humans. The rare few who really have a gift. Not like us, we are just normal people meant for a normal life. Nothing special. So the dream gets tucked away. If you’re lucky, you still remember what it was. But I think a lot of us have forgotten. Perhaps it’s too painful to hold onto something you can never have. It’s much safer to disengage from it, put it away, never to be looked at again.


I also practiced some dream recovery a few years ago. What I learned about myself is that I wanted to be a dancer. I was convinced that is what I had been born to do. That was my true purpose, the thing that would make me feel most alive. There was only one problem, I was far too old and completely untrained. That dream was actually impossible for me. So I spent some time grieving, feeling like I’d missed my calling. If only I’d stuck with ballet. If only I’d taken those dance classes in college that I really wanted to take, but was too afraid. If only…


Instead, I spent my late thirties in clubs I was far too ‘mature’ to be in. I took some hip-hop classes (only to further prove that I had zero training and man, did it show). At weddings, I was the first one on the floor and the last one off. I loved dancing, and still do.

So, in my latest pursuit, the one where I have decided that I am done being afraid, I’m done playing safe, the one where I’m done sitting on the sidelines, this has brought me face to face again with the question, ‘what are my dreams?’. When I’m realllllly honest and not concerned with whether or not it’s possible, what others will think, or how much it might hurt to pull that dream out of the closet, dancing is still there (among other things), but the whole dancer thing really got me thinking. Why? What was it about being a dancer? What did that mean to me and why does if feel like a part of me? And then I began to wonder if it’s not so much about the method, but more about what the method represents that is the true dream. Because not everyone can be an astronaut or a president, but people still have that dream. Is that a silly dream? Meaningless? Are they meant to just live a frustrated, unfulfilled life because their dream is actually not possible?

To me, being a dancer would mean many things. Grace and strength and beauty. I’d have control of my body and it would be alive with energy and passion and power. I would certainly be flexible. I’d be disciplined. I would move people. And most importantly, dancing means liberation. Freedom. I could lose myself in a space where what I said or thought or felt didn’t matter. All that mattered would be what was happening at that very moment, in sync with music, co-creating beauty. I would be on fire. Other people would be liberated too. I could set hearts free when I danced.

Why can’t I still have those things? Is is possible my dreams are valid and true and placed in my soul for a reason? What if sometimes the representation of our dream isn’t what matters, but instead it’s what is behind that label. Maybe that’s where the treasure is. Just because I’ll never be on a stage leaping through the air doesn’t mean that my dream gets put on a shelf as an, ‘oh well’.

What is it I want to be liberated from? How can I be more flexible? Where can I find freedom? How can I help liberate others? Can I move through my life with beauty, grace, and strength? Can my heart leap with joy and passion and power? How do I live in the moment, be fully present?

What is your hidden dream? Did you want to be a pilot? Maybe what you want is adventure and exhilaration and partnership with something greater than you. Did you want to be a comedian? Maybe what you desire is to heal the human soul, bring light into the darkest of places, offer relief to weary hearts. Did you want to be rock star? Maybe what you want is to bring people together for a moment, unite people who would otherwise have nothing in common, offer a way for us to connect. What’s the dream behind your dream?

There are many dreams still available. If you want to be a writer, write. If you want to be an artist, paint. If you want to be a lawyer, go to law school. But don’t neglect those dreams that now seem impossible due to limitations beyond your control. Look behind them, what is it you truly desired? The desire that comes from that place in you that is love and light and goodness. The dream that was so available when you were a child and didn’t yet know to judge it. What does the outward form of that dream mean to you? What is it you think you would have had by being president? Find a way to let those dreams live in your current situation. They aren’t silly. They are the DNA of your soul. They are your clues to a fulfilled and meaningful existence.

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