The Legacy Of Future Dreams
As I think about us being the link between past and future generations, I wonder about our ancestors, how they had the courage, held on to their dreams, and often risked everything to fulfill their dreams of coming to America, and here we are, the culmination of those dreams.
“When we undertake the pilgrimage, it’s not just to escape the tyranny at home but also to reach the depth of our souls.”
– Orhan Pamuk
We grieve forgotten or broken dreams from our past, but in honoring the life of poet Mary Oliver, who asked: “What it is you plan to do with your wild and precious life?” it is our responsibility as legacy writers to “reach the depths of our souls,” to make conscious the plans, aspirations, and dreams we have for our future, and to provide that as legacy for future generations.
A simple example: A young woman recently told me she wouldn’t get in to a course of study she dreamed of, so she wasn’t going to apply. My response was that she surely would not be admitted if she didn’t apply! We both laughed; she decided to make application, and she begins that course of study in October.
“We dream to give ourselves hope. To stop dreaming – well, that’s like saying you can never change your fate.”
– Amy Tan
Having dreams for and planning for our futures require us to believe that our lives are always precious – and often wild. We need the courage our immigrant ancestors had to live our dreams, knowing we won’t always get what we hope for. It requires of us the willingness to grieve broken dreams, to let go, and eventually to open again to hopes for the future – words more easily written than lived.
“I hold it true, whate’er befall; I feel it when I sorrow most, Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”
– Alfred Lord Tennyson
1. Reflect and write about dreams you had for your life as an adolescent and young adult. Did they become a part of the life you’re living now? In each decade since then, your life has likely changed in surprising and unexpected ways. Were those changes related to conscious visions and dreams you had for yourself? If yes, how have you celebrated them? And if not, have you allowed yourself to grieve them so you can dream new dreams?
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
– H. Jackson Brown Jr.
2. Let yourself explore and dream about what you aspire to for your next twenty years. Be brave enough to commit to them by writing them down.
3. Choose a legacy letter recipient – a trusted someone with whom you want to share your dreams for yourself.
4. In your letter share about old dreams that came to fruition and those that did not. And allow yourself to be vulnerable enough to share those things you hope for in the next twenty years.
5. After you’ve written your letter, reflect again – about how thinking and writing about your aspirations for your precious and wild life adds to your courage to act to make them real, as well as how that makes you feel and think about yourself, and the legacy of your life.
“May you allow yourself to dream your dreams, and may they enrich your precious life.” – Rachael Freed
Rachael Freed, LICSW, senior fellow, Earl E. Bakken Center for Spirituality & Healing, University of Minnesota, is the author of Your Legacy Matters and Women’s Lives, Women’s Legacies: firstname.lastname@example.org, and www.life-legacies.com