What do we do with our dreams?
This has been the theme today in Chicago. What do we do with our dreams? What are our dreams? How far are we willing to go to pursue what we believe in; what we dream of?
Monica Haslip, founder and executive director of Little Black Pearl, one of the organizations with whom we're volunteering throughout the week, seems to keep dreams in her pocket, next to the lint. She's had thousands, it seems, and somedays she's clearly had so many that a few of them had to survive the spin cycle and land back where they'd started: with her.
We were lucky enough to have lunch with Monica today, and to be able to receive her stories. From working comfortably at BET to literally running out of money in the planning and processing stages of the Little Black Pearl Workshop, she's seen it all, and she's never taken any of it lightly. When she was twenty-eight, she got the idea to buy a building and turn it into a youth art space -- so she did it. When she decided to expand and build a brand new facility, she did it. When the contractor turned around and sued her for $2 million and she knew she could fight the suit, she did that, too. She's built some of Little Black Pearl with her own hands. She's demanded that the Chicago Transit Authority donate a bus on which the kids could paint -- "I called somebody at CTA," Monica told us, "who said that the CTA never had, didn't want to, and absolutely wouldn't donate a bus to us, and then I got them to donate a bus to us."
That is to say, when she wanted public transportation to be her students' canvas, she did that, too.
She won't lie to you. She says the most important part of a dream is that when you have it, it's already real. But from there, it's all on you and how much you're willing to put into it. Somedays when it got really rough, Monica said, it was all she could do to just accomplish what she could in a given day -- and so she accomplished it.
We talked about our dreams tonight during our reflection. Not the weird dreams where Bugs Bunny is a gangster and there's a contract out on your grandmother's life -- which was a very real dream from my childhood and no, I don't want to get into it -- but the real dreams that we want to pursue. Some of us want to be actors. Some of us want to work with children. Some publish; some be the President of the United States.
My dream is to be a performance poet. As much as I'm willing to admit that these days -- and that is a fairly recent confession -- I'm afraid of it. Terrified. As Gregory Pickett put it, "Ain't Nobody Hirin' Poets."
Wait; what's that? You don't know Gregory Pickett?
But we all have dreams. That's what today was about. Whether it was my conversation with a boy who told me that painting keeps him out of trouble and that maybe he'd like to keep doing it, or my own staring at the carpet and trying to put myself in the mindset of a twenty-eight year old purchasing a building on a hunch and a passion, tonight I know that dreams are about commitment.
Dreams don't fall into your lap -- that's why they're called dreams. When we dream at night, we burrow deep into our subconscious and decide what really matters without letting ourselves and our days and our woes get in the way. When we dream during the day, we drift away from the world for a moment and take a breath to think about what we really want to think about. In either case, the ideas we grant ourselves are fantastic and whimsical, and it's no coincidence that we can only hear them once we get rid of the static.
It is late. Soon, I will dream. Soon, I imagine, we will all dream.
It's a start.