O Me! O Life! The Lost Art of Dreaming Big
Have you noticed the Apple iPad commercials that quote Walt Whitman’s wonderful poem “O Me! O Life!” while showing a montage of active creativity? I was able to immediately recognize Robin Williams in his role from Dead Poet’s Society telling his students to live fully and not waste a moment.
For those of you who are not familiar with it, the poem ends with “…the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.” I get chills when I hear it. It reminds me that we are put on this earth not just to go through the motions, but to leave our mark.
While many people found that movie to be pretty corny, I loved it. I admit it. I found the whole rage-against-the-dying-light theme pretty inspiring back when I was in college, and still do. I fear that many people have lost this burning desire to feel and live fully. They have lost connections and dreams. They have lost the longing to reach for something that may not be easily attainable.
Somewhere around the time when we are asked to turn in our crayons in grade school and start worrying about what others think of us, our dream-big trait starts to weaken. Then life happens and suddenly we have day jobs and mortgages and things we have to do, bills we have to pay.
It is far to easy to sink down into the daily minutiae and just let the days go by. Why not? Everyone else is doing it?! And isn’t it so much easier to just relax into the couch after a long day at work, making ends meet and bringing home the bacon? Who wants to ask the big questions and dream the big dreams?
I get it. Really, I do. I get stuck in ruts where the idea of putting words on paper or playing in my fabric stash seem like way too much work. I can’t even be bothered to pick up a book. All I want to do is sink into the couch, turn on the tube and escape from the responsibilities and stress and busyness of life.
But when I do pull myself back from the edge long enough to remember what it is I love about creating and writing, I remember the passion and fire that gets lit deep within me when I allow myself to dream those big dreams again.
This is where movies like Mr. Holland’s Opus , Dangerous Minds, and Rudy come in – they show us people who continue against all reason to follow their dreams. Even The Little Mermaid shows us this. They encourage us to reach beyond what people expect of us, to become more. I think many popular movies and books follow this theme because of this. They remind us how to dream big.
I have come to know some people who inspire me to keep reaching. They go home after putting in a full day at work and they work on something bigger, something not easily attainable. And little by little they are making progress toward these dreams, this bigger goal, this brighter life. Maybe it’s a new career, or a cool invention they want to build. Maybe it’s something more personal like training to run a marathon or learn how to make their grandmother’s sauce. Or maybe it’s writing or painting or creating an inspirational website.
People wonder why I “waste” time writing. Let’s face it, millions of people say they want to write a book. Millions of people try to write books, and the number of those who manage to do so consistently and make enough money to support their families is tiny.
I realize I may never make money at this. I realize that writing full-time for a living is probably never going to happen. I will most likely never be famous and quite honestly am not sure how I would handle that anyway. The majority of middle grade readers may never know my name, and may never read my books. And yet, I continue to write.
Why? Because I love the way it makes me feel. I crave the feeling of inspiration striking me in my gut and making me feel alive. It is my way to contribute a verse in this vast and wonderful play called life. Maybe one person will read my words, my books, and be inspired to follow their own dream. That is a wonderful mark to leave.
What is your great unreachable dream? What tiny steps can you take today toward it? What verse will you leave?
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