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One of my favorite dreams is from my childhood, inspired by Walt Disney films I am sure. I am a princess dressed in a white ball gown with gold accents. I am waiting for my prince to come. I know that he is on his way and I am feeling excited and happy. I envision him in my mind, as he arrives dressed in a white military style suit with gold trimming atop a white horse. But in my dream, he never arrives.
More recently, I dreamed that I didn't have chronic pain anymore. I was very disappointed when I awoke to find it wasn't true. As if to correct a mistake, the next night in my dream I couldn't remember what it felt like not to live with chronic pain. I woke up and realized that was true.
Dreams are devious things. The ones that happen when we are asleep are a curious mix of the real and the symbolic, with a dash of the events of the previous day mixed in. Nothing is as it seems and trying to figure out what they mean is the subject of many, many books.
Then there are the dreams we create in our minds when we are day-dreaming. You know, when you focus on your wishes and desires and convince yourself that those are things that you want, you need and you can have. The dreams we create to deal with or escape from the boredom, frustrations and limitations of our daily lives.
Some day-dreamers say that if you can imagine it, you can achieve it. Sure, we all know people who seem to have attained their dreams: dream job, dream house, dream car, dream marriage. There are tons of inspiring stories, from fairy tales to documentaries, about people obtaining their dreams and lots of self-books that show us how to do it.
But lately I find myself asking, 'Are all dreams truly achievable?'
You see, my life with chronic illness seems to be thwarting some of my dreams. Using all these self-help techniques and strategies aren't helping to make them a reality. Some of my dreams don't seem to be possible in light of all the things that life has thrown my way, like illness, financial constraints, adversity, reality and limitations.
Which makes me wonder if the deficiency lies with my dreams or me, the dreamer...
In reality, there are just as many stories about unfulfilled dreams as there are about dreams coming true. In fact, some of the best stories I have read involve things like unrequited love, missed opportunities, unforeseen tragedies and frustrated ambitions. In these messy moments of anger, frustration, disappointment and sorrow, I find myself connecting to the people in these stories much more than with the ones who live blissfully in their perfect, dream-fulfilled worlds. Like the heroine in one of my favorite childhood stories, the original The Little Mermaid.
As much as I would like to live my dreams, I am constantly reminded that this is not a perfect world. Life can be unfair and difficult. Life doesn't promise us a huge house on a hill with a rose garden. So while day-dreams may serve a purpose, like being a refuge from the onslaught of real life to a source of inspiration when we are feeling down, I accept that not all dreams can and do come true.
I guess that revelation should make me sad. But instead I chose to focus on how truly special it is when, despite living in an imperfect world, one of my dreams does come true.