Seriously, What Does Happen to a Dream Deferred?

As many of you know, from the summer of 2004 to the spring of 2012, rarely a day went by that I did not wish I lived in Europe. I pursued this dream down many an avenue, rabbit hole, sidewalk chalk painting and dark alley, and then one day, just like that, I knew my chasing was done. The next few months were pretty hard as I tried to figure out where that left me, and I thought a lot about the famous Langston Hughes poem.

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

Friends, never in all my BS-ing English lit days had I been able to truly understand this poem. I mean I got it. We all get it. Where do dreams go when you stop dreaming them? What happens to them? But when you’re in that place, that vacuum left in the departure of your deepest desire, you know it’s not the dream drying up – it’s you. You feel like the life is just oozing out of you, like you stink of the death of your dream, like a crust has formed over your heart, like you’re carrying the weight of your life that used to float along on hope. You feel like you just might explode.

I thought about this poem, this topic, a lot, and then very slowly, over the course of a few months, I stopped thinking about it so much. I was challenged by it again later when asked what my dreams for my life were, and at that point, I realized that new ones were starting to build up inside me. I would still love to live in Europe, and I would do it if the right opportunity presented itself, but I’m content just exactly where I am. Maybe for the first time ever.

And now when I look back on last spring (and the 8 years leading up to it), I am thankful – thankful for the dream and the adventures it gave me, thankful for the passion it stirred up within me, thankful for the people it led me across, thankful for the lessons I learned in pursuit of it.

Donald Miller’s latest blog post includes these lines:

There is no guarantee our dreams will come true. But is that the point of dreaming? Must our dreams be realized, or is the call to dream them in the first place? … We must understand the realization of the dream is not so much the gift as the dream itself.

So keep on dreaming, kids. Whether you get there or not, it’s totally worth it. And if you can stop off at my place on the way for a night, I’ll make you some tea, and we’ll choreograph a dance.

Author: beth

I'm told that I'm cleverly stupid, and that's why people are friends with me. And here I thought it was because I was so dang cute...

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