by Eric Payne
In our society mediocrity has become the norm. In this economy, hopeless-speak is just what we do. We want more and more; better for our kids yet they listen to us gripe all day long. Many of us get on our knees and pray to a God we cannot see, but won’t even make eye-contact with let alone give a penny to, a homeless person stationed on the sidewalk in front of us. We think nothing of financially support singers, dancers and ball handlers, contributing to their millionaire lifestyles but at the same time nickel and dime ourselves when it comes to investing in our own well-beings and development. At bedtime before sleep takes us away from it all — this hell on Earth — a tiny question dances across our minds that we won’t ever admit out loud: “What happened?”
- What happened to that boy or girl we used to be who was filled with their dream(s)?
- What happened to the vigor that drove us to not let anyone or anything slow us down?
- What happened to that fire for life we once had? Where did it go? Why did it go?
Why Is The Exception Not the Norm?
There are, of course, exceptions. And guess what? These individuals often don’t consider themselves to be exceptional at all. They use terms like “luck” and “being blessed” with the right combination of means, opportunity or persons of influence who were able to help them along the way. None of these factors would have mattered had they given up on their dreams. Without dreams they wouldn’t have known when or how to act when their opportunities arrived. They were prepared for when it came rather than upset and caught unprepared because it might have come later than they expected. One such individual, Mikki Taylor, beauty director and cover editor at Essence magazine, was one of the seemingly endless number of professionals and celebrities who lined up to meet and share their own dreams with 110 youth selected from all around the nation for Disney’s Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and Essence. It was an amazing 4-day weekend of intense experiential mentoring covering from animation to veterinary science. The end goal for these young “Dreamers” is to leave the experience better equipped to transform their dreams into realities and in turn help others like them do the same.
Taylor delivered one of the many powerful messages to the Dreamers during their Commencement Ceremony. As I sat there with BMWK’s Lamar & Ronnie Tyler listening intently, she reminded me of the following:
- Know your value. Your perception of who you are determines how you carry and conduct yourself.
- You must arm yourself with the necessary tools for you to accomplish what you want.
- Be about the business of making your dreams come true. Treat your pursuit of that dream as if it were a business.
- Don’t get sidetracked by who and what is perceived to be “cool.” Take your direction from the right people.
- Seek out informed individuals to help you reach your goals.
- Make your gift your pursuit. Money is definitely nice, but you have to do more than just want to make money.
- Do not build a house in the valley of your troubles. Own [up to] them and then move on.
- Don’t allow the limited vision of someone else to become yours. My own take on this: Advice is often another’s excuse for their own failure(s).
- Use your gift. Spend it up entirely because it is on loan to you from the Creator.
- When it comes time to act step out on faith. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen. It will be your guide and your legs when the road is rough.
The kids weren’t the only ones who needed to hear these words.
To Dream The Impossible Dream
A person will only go as far as their beliefs allow them. A child starts out beginning that anything is possible. Then they reach a point where resistance rears it’s ugly head. It is at that point that they need someone who knows a little more than they do to bolster their courage to do the “impossible.” This doesn’t mean it can’t be done. There are plenty of success stories involving kids who didn’t have anything resembling a parent or authority figure to help along their rough, maybe even impossible roads to success. But shouldn’t that experience be the exception rather than the norm? Each one should teach one in any and all ways possible.
I left the experience blessed to be able to connect a budding and passionate young photographer with several accomplished professional photographers I know personally. For all I know this may the reason why four years ago, after knowing none prior, I “suddenly” came to know and become friends with several photographers nationwide. Will you do the same when your turn comes or will you simply remember all that wasn’t done for you when you used to dream?
Yesterday is gone. There is nothing that can be done or undone with it. All each of us has is right now. Even if you are reading this at 6 o’clock in the evening you can finish off your day recommitted to being about the business of bringing your dreams to life. Or you can make yourself available to usher a child, either yours or someone not as lucky as yours, that much closer to their dreams.
If you are one of the many downtrodden described at the beginning of this piece, despair no more. No matter whose fault it is or was, it’s going to be okay. Stop punishing yourself and stop allowing yourself to be punished. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and reconnect with your dreams — the divine intention that was inserted into you as your life’s purpose! But beware. This is all easier said than done. There won’t be any thunderclaps because you’ve got a new attitude. It’s unlikely that opportunity will begin pouring down from the heavens. But as Steve Harvey expressed repeatedly throughout the weekend, once you stop dreaming and pursuing those dreams “you may as well cash in the chips.” Dreams are what drive the life force. A life without dreams is simply an existence at the expense of others — your spouse, your children, your society, everyone you come into contact with. Please, make your life count.
To learn more about this amazing weekend of dreams and opportunities that happens once a year at Disney World, visit Disney’s Dreamer’s Academy.
Eric has written the articles Investing In An Emotional Letdown and the now infamous, My Wife Is NOT My Friend (on Facebook). He keeps it truthful about being a man, dad and husband on his blog, Makes Me Wanna Holler.com and at the Makes Me Wanna Holler.com Facebook Experience. In his “spare time” Eric reviews autos, tech products and writes relationship articles for Atlanta-based J’Adore Magazine.