We Stop Dreaming

We stop dreaming…

…and worse, we decide to call it growing up.

I am a Puer aeternus: meaning that I plan to never grow up. At least when it comes to dreaming. And since I have no plans of dying as well, this quote by Brian Williams makes a whole lot of sense to me.

“A person starts dying when they stop dreaming”

And I don’t want to die, EVER!!!

And that implies I won’t grow up either. See, I’m already thinking as a kid. Kids have this idea that everyone grows up, and then they die. Of course, kids don’t die. And we’ll leave it that way!!!

Leave it to Peter Pan, the archetypal Puer aeternus (Eternal Boy) to say it best:

If growing up means it would be beneath my dignity to climb a tree, I’ll never grow up, never grow up, never grow up! Not me!

What prompted this post was some things that were said at this meeting I went to on Saturday. The speaker said something in the light of:

A lot of us keep on living until 65, 70…, but we have already become living corpses at the age of 21. This is because at this age, we stop dreaming. When we were young, we all thought about traveling the world, owning islands, and mansions…but then we decide to grow up. We begin to rationalize our dreams, to make it match our “realities”. We decide to settle!

And then he said something: “It all boils down to one word – Association.” Associate with those who expect more out of this world, and you begin to expect more as well.

This is what I would say draws me a little closer to kids, and adults who have refused to stop dreaming. Thank God I have friends like that!

Their expectations, or should I say “our” expectations, are laughable and just plain ridiculous, however, it’s what will keep us young – we are basking in the fountain of youth after all – long after the worms have had the bodies of our counterparts for dinner. You’re next for dessert if you stop dreaming!

It’s a tradition of this blog to end with a song. And of course, the most fitting song should have something to do with being “Forever Young”. There is Bob Dylan’s, there is Rod Stewart’s, and then there is Alphaville’s (you’ve heard the Jay-Z’s cover of this, right?)

Tired Already? So am I!

What’s really the point of having dreams. aspirations. hopes. goals?

Like, can we just stop already?

Friedrich Nietzsche (I think I’m a little obsessed with this guy!) once said:

Hope is the worst of all evils because it prolongs the torments of man.

This speaks of the disconnect (or so it seems) between the doing, and the waiting – the expectations we have for those beautiful dreams to come true.

I admit, it is frustrating. And especially when you’re THIS CLOSE.

However, like my mother always says to me:

It’s only a matter of time.

But, that’s exactly the gripe I have. Why do things like these take time?

I got reassured again yesterday by my mother, and also by the woman who will soon be my Supervisor – as I intern as a Health Education/ Social Science Researcher on health issues, mostly diabetes, among Mexican Americans –  to “believe in the beauty of [my] dreams”. The future belongs to those who do after all, if consideration is to be given to the words of Eleanor Roosevelt.

It’s that time between the conception of those dreams, and the eventual point when they come to life that’s the cliffhanger. And the suspense is killing me, I admit. I liken dreams to babies (oh precious sweet little creatures!), and please don’t picture this: but for my dreams, I am the pregnant woman…waiting to give birth. Same for you as well for your dreams!

It’s only a matter of time! In the meantime however, the deeds that will help bring those dreams to reality will have to continue… (no matter how arduous they may be at times!)

I’ll end on this note: with a song of course!

In the words of Elvis Presley. I would scream this on the top of a mountain – arms spread wide, mouth open wide, eyes upwards to the sky, all that jazz – only if I had access to one…

Tell me why, oh why, oh why can’t my dream come true…RIGHT NOW?

Creator, GO CREATE!

Okay, I promise not to ruin this by talking too much. But,

I’m sure by now, if you’ve been following this blog, you should be familiar with Alim Kamara. He’s fast becoming an undeniable presence on this blog ( read why here, and here too)

This morning, I found this inspirational piece below by him:

So, what are you still waiting for?

Creator, go create. Dreamer, go live your dreams!

…This Close (Guest Post by @KarlNova)

Below is a guest post by a friend, Karl Nova. He blogs here at: http://karlnova.blogspot.com/ and from time to time, he brings up interesting topics for discussion on twitter: @KarlNova

The reason he’s posting here is because he’s a fellow dreamer. You can go ahead and ask him what he does…don’t tell him I sent you though!

Like I said (I wish!) posted somewhere on this blog:

“You, you may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one

I hope some day you’ll join us…And the world will be as one” – John Lennon

…And he’s decided to let me post his piece on here as it relates to dreams, and disappointment. If you’ve ever dreamed, and attempted to take the little steps towards that vision, you probably do know what it feels like to be disappointed or discouraged. As you might have noticed by now, music is a significant part of this blog. I’ve posted songs, or lyrics on here…and the title of this piece is part of a line from a song I already posted here as a theme song for one of my core values – service; and I thought it was a befitting title for this piece.

It’s so frustrating when you’re…’this close’ – Alim Kamara

And I’m sure you do agree!

____________ . ___________ . __________________

Karl Nova begins:

Disappointment is a hard thing to deal with.

I hate being let down and I hate letting people down but both have happened quite a lot in my life and even though it sounds pessimistic, I know it will still happen again because you know that’s life innit?

Some who are more eloquent and loquacious than myself will tell you with more grandiose verbosity than I care to muster that “every disappointment is a Divine appointment with destiny” and I do believe that, it’s just that when let downs happen, it takes more than eloquence to numb the pain though it is helpful to be reminded that if we look closer it all could be a blessing in disguise as our wise mothers tell us with comforting tones and encouraging hugs.

The more disappointments happen, the more you try to protect yourself from them happening and what we do is lower our expectations or even walk around expecting let downs to happen even when there is no sign or hint of it. One might even start to reduce their hopes in the name of being “realistic” and one who was once a dreamer about possibilities over time hardens into what they call a “realist” and to be fair one must keep it real and try to be objective but like an old song by Les McCann says “trying to make it real compared to what?”

The thing is we can’t live like that and deep down inside we know this, even the greatest cynic knows this. The late great comedian George Carlin said:

“Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist”

…this is very true. If you ever meet a person that comes off as very cynical about everything, just dig deeper and you might probably unearth a story of someone who has been let down a lot in life. Either that or they have been around people who they have seen let down and seeing all that has affected how they see things generally.

Like I said we can’t live without hopes, dreams and aspirations even if sometimes those things seem like the proverbial carrot dangling from the proverbial stick leading us on. Yes indeed some dreams do seem like a mirage in the desert that you never seem to be able to reach but everyone needs something to aim for or you just live aimlessly with no purpose. No one can live for long like that, even if you don’t know what it is, you sense you were born for a reason. You sense that there is something more than the norm that you are seeing around you that you are here for.

Besides all this, there is the day to day survival that is happening regardless… and you are here, right in the middle of it. Everyday you wake up and life goes on. You are on a journey regardless. As long as you are breathing the journey continues. So my prayer for you and for me as we live is that God will guide us all. I pray that God will heal hearts that have suffered setbacks and that somehow by grace we turn stumbling blocks into stepping stones.

Yes I know it is not easy, yes I know it is easier said, tweeted, facebooked, instagrammed etc than done but we must do this. This one life we’ve been blessed to live on earth has no sequel here. Yeah YOLO and all that but that is not an excuse to live reckless, it is more of a call to treasure every moment you have. You can’t crawl back into your mama’s womb, you can be reborn into a life that extends into eternity though but hey that is a whole other blog 🙂

* * *

Ayo’s Note:

Granted, there are those who might stumble across this – who don’t believe in a god or don’t find prayer helpful in any way, but I do believe (nice word choice, right?) there are lots of things you’ll find helpful in what has been said so far!

I’ll close with these words that resonated with me:

“Everyone needs something to aim for or you just live aimlessly with no purpose. No one can live for long like that, even if you don’t know what it is, you sense you were born for a reason. You sense that there is something more than the norm that you are seeing around you that you are here for.”

Getting Out Our Dreams…

You might have at one point or another come across this slogan…but if not, then you can from today say you’ve come across it. G.O.O.D is the imprint of an egomaniac whom we’ve come to adore or at least hate more over the years…Easy to figure out of whom I’m talking about, right? You can call him someone who is full of himself, a megalomaniac, an arrogant idiot, a jerk, a jackass, or whatever adjective you may (which might be true to some extent), but one thing that cannot be doubted or undermined though is his passion for the often ridiculous dreams he has. In a society like ours where conventions are applauded, which extends to music and “art” – two major things he’s passionate about, he breathes for the sole purpose of breaking those molds. He’s almost become the first to take a particular route;  and then everyone else follows suit.

Me thinks by now you should really know who I’m talking about….and if you don’t, well I’m sorry!

Now what does this have to do with this blog? It should be clear since this is a blog about DREAMS after all. As I said in the post before this (click, you’re welcome),

Life is too beautiful not to dream. This is the purpose of this blog, to document those dreams, and the deeds that are being done as I journey to achieve them. However, I am interested in not only documenting mine, but others’ as well

So, it is in light of this that I’ve decided to create a section on this blog called G.O.O.D which would document the dreams of others…since I’m not the only dreamer here. It would be a great delight to share the dreams of others, and the deeds they’ve done (or are doing) to achieve them.

“You, you may say  I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one I hope some day you’ll join us And the world will be as one” – John Lennon

So be on the lookout for amazing friends of mine who will come here to share with you the things they are passionate about. For the most part, it’ll ease me from having to bother you guys with what I have to say (what a relief that is!)

And if you’re passing by here, and think you would like to share things of which you’re very passionate about – your dreams!, send me an email @ ofdreamsanddeeds at gmail dot com so we can share with the rest of the world, and they’ll hopefully find your deeds towards achieving your dreams helpful enough to emulate as they journey to achieve their dreams as well.

We are ready, to Get Out Our Dreams. The world is ready to hear us (or at least I think this enormous cheering sound is indication enough that it’s time for your voice to be heard…so speak on!)

My Deepest Fear…

This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.

I am sitting here at the library and thinking to myself, I can’t lie to myself anymore. I am absolutely tired of it. I can’t pretend anymore that I don’t see streets paved with Gold (on this earth mind you) on which my feet will soon walk on… I can’t pretend anymore that I am nothing special. I can’t lie to myself anymore that I don’t have something to offer the world…that I am not needed here. That I have nothing to contribute.

And the greatest fear of mine is to live up to this truth of my uniqueness. There is a spark that has been deposited in me by my Maker, a light that is not meant to be hidden under a bushel. My fear is coming to terms with the reality that I have a voice the angels in Heaven envy, the kind of voice that mountains are more than willing to echo. My fear is being able to stand up confidently in front of the thousands of people I see before me, and being able to believe them when they tell me that they are here to hear what I have to say….

And I have to say, at this moment, I have to try and sniffle as hard as I can to prevent this drop of tear developing in the corner of my eyes from falling down…I’ll excuse myself after I finish writing this!

My greatest fear is owning up to the fact that there is absolutely nothing ordinary about me. And I am sitting here at the library, thinking to myself, “why did it take this long?”

Why did it take this long, to realize that “my playing small does not serve the world.“, that “there is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around me.

And so, today I let those fears go….

As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. – Marianne Williamson

This is in the spirit of the lessons I’ve learned through my LeaderShape experience, coupled with a lot of self-reflection, especially over the past month. I started keeping a Gratitude Journal at the beginning of this month, and I was stupefied as to how much of life I actually missed before now…the simple little things we count as insignificant! Like the smile of a child, the hellos said by strangers, the fact that someone said “thank you” for something you did for them, laughter, music, poetry, running in the rain, the fact that I had something to bite on, the fact that I was able to run, and catch the bus before it passed by me….

And today, just in the space of 12 hours…I received two news that reminded me that there is something in me that others see, which I’ve refused to see for a long time.

One: One of my poems, which I wrote as a memorial for the victims of the Dana Air Crash that happened on June 3rd in Lagos, (my country) Nigeria, was selected to be included in an Anthology meant to commemorate Dana Airlines Flight 9J-992 from Abuja to Lagos, Sunday June 3, 2012.

Two: The mid-course evaluation of my Philosophy Professor, who at the end of his helpful comments wrote: “Keep up the overall consistently strong work” This is a very challenging class, as a boatload of work has to be done over a period of 5 weeks. Gruesome to say the least! And so far, I’m in the A minus range, and it might stay that way if I, according to my Professor again, continue to “keep up the good work in class!”

We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. – Marianne Williamson

As for me, I am done with being fearful of how awesome I am…

MEPHOBIA: Fear of becoming so awesome that the human race can’t handle it, and everyone dies.

…And I give you permission to go do the same.

Life is too beautiful not to dream. This is the purpose of this blog, to document those dreams, and the deeds that are being done as I journey to achieve them. However, I am interested in not only documenting mine, but others’ as well…which leads us all to the next chapter of this journey.

More about that soon….

In the meantime,

If your heart turns blue, I want you to remember
This song is for you, and you are full of wonder

What A Daredevil’s Taught Me About Dreams.

– 11:50 PM

I am not in bed, as I should be. I actually really was, but then I woke up. I just can’t go to bed without saying something (and I’ve said a lot) about the magnificence of the day. Let me show you a glimpse…

If you still don’t know what I’m talking about, you will in a minute! This amazing story that will forever go down in history happened just a few hours ago! And, I just thought I should write something down to preserve the freshness, for as long as this inspiring coffee is still brewing within my soul. At least to create some sort of permanence before we move on to the next big thing (don’t we always?)

This post is by all means related to the last post I wrote about possibility. It is as Art, and it is endless. Read here —> It is that same spirit of possibility that this daredevil, Nik Wallenda, exudes when he decides to walk across the Niagara Falls on a rope – 1800 feet from American terrain, crossing over to Canada. Which he did! Might I add, in 25 minutes! The first man in world history to do that! – cross directly over Niagara Falls, on a highwire! I mean, look at the guy! Just watch as he makes his strides towards the finish line:

He defied the odds! He’s living completely in that realm of absolute possibility. His next mission, which he said he already got the permit for, is to do the same defying walk, but this time across the Grand Canyon. Yes, the Grand Canyon! And then, what?

One of my friends called me, while watching him as he moved closer to the finish, and said “That’s something you would do, Ayo”. And I replied him, I’m not that crazy. The guy is definitely my hero! I’m far from a daredevil, but I’ve been known to do stuff that seems daring to my mates…simple things like jumping over stuff, parkour-ish. Nothing much, but they always scream though, well especially my good friend who called. He screams like a girl too (Sorry Idee, love you man!) But man, I am really short of words.

Now, I did make a promise in the About page that everything I post here will have something to do with my experience at LeaderShape, and so far so good. You probably are wondering how this relates, but I’ll show you in a minute. Like I said, this ties to what I talked about on the last post – the art of possibility…and interestingly enough, on Day 3 of LeaderShape, the theme was “Challenging What Is, Looking to What Could Be”. It screams of the glorious nature of the world of possibility. Here is a quote I found in my LeaderShape manual:

When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds; your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great, and wonderful world. – Patanjali

Such is the promise that is made in this world of possibility. It is indeed a new, great and wonderful world. There are no barriers. What really amazed me about Nik was that, being aware of the fact that there were definitely going to be challenges to deal with, for example the mist, the roars of the waters below, the loneliness he’s prone to feel while he’s on the rope in the middle of an expanse of water, fear possibly of the likelihood of failing, the wetness of the rope which might cause a slip; he remained calm and he proclaimed that being on the rope was to him “a blessing”, “an opportunity”.

This world of possibility begins with the pronouncement of these words, reminiscent of Martin Luther King Jr, “I have a dream”. And for two years, he fought against comments that tried to discouraged him. Officials who were supposed to be responsible for handing him a permit bluntly denied with comments like: “Not in this lifetime”, but he kept fighting, and still did not give up his dream! He has this to say, and I quote him loosely:

“People say I’m insane all the time, but they don’t get it, I love what I do”

His goal was to inspire others to dream, and not give up. And that, he’s certainly done!

On Day 3 of LeaderShape, we learned about the key dynamics of a powerful vision, which are:

It is vivid – something pretty clear

It is challenging – pretty much speaks for itself doesn’t it? Tough! Not easy!

It’s service directed – it’s a selfless act, for others.

It is expandable – it is something that can be built upon

It is compelling – there is no way you’ll be able stop people from talking about it! It resonates.

And if you analyze Nik’s vision, it certainly encompasses each of these key dynamics. I’ll end with this:

It’s tough and challenging, but we can all start to #WalkTheWire…one step at a time. Like he said, the first step is very very essential. It’s pretty much all that matters!

Culled from Wikipedia: As he was taking his first steps over the water he told reporters “It’s a beautiful view… A dream in the making.”

…Something he’s been dreaming about, like most of us,…since he was young (20 years to be exact!)

– 1:00 AM

Possibility; It’s an Art

The dictionary defines Art thus:

the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.

It describes Possibility as:

the state or fact of being possible; anything that is possible

Combining both terms, as “The Art of Possibility” what we get is this:

The production, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance of anything that is possible!

Now ain’t that something? But the question is, what exactly is this art of possibility? I believe from the analysis above, it has to do with the fact that you can produce what is beautiful, because in the strictest sense, anything is possible.

Everything I talk about on this blog will relate back to my experience at LeaderShape, and this for me is definitely one of the highlights of that experience. Without it, this blog would definitely not be in existence. And I’d assume it’s a good thing that it is in existence. You can read the About to get a grasp of what I’m speaking of.

So enough with the preamble….

We were told at the first day of the retreat that LeaderShape’s vision had a lot to do with two major things, namely: leading with “integrity”, and “a healthy disregard for the impossible” – I translated this to mean “endless possibilities”. And to be honest, everything we did had something to do with those two terms. Now, I am a dreamer, so the endless possibility stuff attracted me, though in a very subconscious way. Now, I am also a self-conscious self-doubter, which means that I keep track of my failures, and disregard or fail to acknowledge my successes (most times, I don’t even see them at all). The failures and limitations are more glaring. Now, that chain was what the “healthy disregard for the impossible” was meant to break, and trust me it did break it.

We were told to think of a vision, and imagine that there was nothing stopping us from achieving it. We were told to dream, with no barriers…we were told to not see the sky, let alone see it as a limit. And I took the bait…

I refused to listen to the voices in my head that tried to dissuade me from dreaming. The calculating part of me nudged me to start thinking of my vision in terms of how “practical” or “reasonable” it is, but what I soon found out was that it’s unreasonable to weigh capacities in this realm of “endless possibilities”. Those words didn’t make sense anymore, everything was possible!

Having a vision allows one to be vulnerable. For me, it turned me to a little child…I was able to actually dream. Things I had told myself I wasn’t capable of doing, in an instant resurfaced, and I gained a renewed strength to pursue lost passions.

That my friends is what is called the Art of Possibility.

As with any type of art, there are techniques to be followed. Techniques are guidelines, and not hard and fast rules to be follwed. They only are there to give you a basic framework to work with, and after that, you can decide to in the metaphoric sense “step out of the box”, and break the rules. Many exciting forms of art have been produced by breaking the established rules. So what does this have to do with possibility?, you say.

Well, we’ve established that Possibility is an art, and it definitely comes with its own techniques that are meant to guide towards that realm.

It is in that light that I introduce you to this:

Benjamin Zander was one of the people we learned from and about at the LeaderShape retreat. His passion, and high energy for life is infectious. I, like most other people, thought he was crazy due to his highly optimistic approach to life. Life isn’t always that great, the cynic in all of us screams. However, in the realm of possibility, life can be…and that is what he aims to teach using humor, and other techniques.

So, on to those techniques.

Humor, as mentioned above is one of them. He calls it the Number 6 Rule: “Stop taking yourself damn too seriously”. Relax, enjoy life and when you make mistakes, throw your arms in the air and say “How fascinating”. (He’s crazy, I told you). This brings you out of what he calls the downward spiral, where you are in a rut of hopelessness and despair..no bueno.

“It’s all invented” is also another tool he talks about. This involves realizing that life consists of games that are invented, which can be recreated based on how we choose to tell our individual stories…and rather than playing a game of success/failure, where you are keeping scores, like me of how many times you’ve failed, you can decide to invent and play a new game. He calls that new game, I am a contribution game.

Quieting the voice in your head is a good one too, and it ties in with humor. I’m sure you’re familiar with those nagging voices, “you’re no good”, “stop dreaming, and wake up..smell the thorns on the roses” (yeah, they hardly point you to the beautiful things)…and it goes on. What he tells you to tell those voices is to say, “Thanks for sharing. I value your input, but I’m busy”

Others include, giving an A (which means that you should go ahead and award A grades to yourself and others, without consideration to merit or whether they/you “deserve” it or not), connecting with others in the sense of a community/collaboration, leading from any chair in the room…and the list goes on.

What this means is that you pretty much need to get the book…

I’ll end on this note, with a review of the book that captures the content of my heart , as written by Margaret J. Wheatley, Author of Leadership and the New Science, Coauthor of A Simpler Way, and President, The Berkana Institute.

The Art of Possibility makes a humane and brilliant future possible. I truly want everyone to read this book – it opens us to the treasure of our great human capacity for creativity. These practices are simple yet extraordinarily effective for tapping into the unlimited energy of the human imagination”

Okay, and now to really end for real… I hope it’s not cheesy to say that I came across this song from a commercial by Kraft cheese (get it?), and it represents all that possibility is. Music speaks for me when words can’t, honestly. So, press play, and I’ll see you beyond the skies!

Hello world!

Hello world!

Just before I actually start blogging on here, I would like to welcome you on board to my journey towards my vision – The Dream Institute, a bi-annual convention in different parts of the world where creatives as young as age 6 gather around to meet with other creatives, sharpening their skills, and being equipped with the necessary tools they need to impact the world with their innovative creations.

The past week, the week of May 14th till May 19th 2012, has been a strenuous and mind-stretching effort made by the LeaderShape Institute to make students like me believe in endless possibilities, vis a vis this quote by Eleanor Roosevelt that “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”  The thought that keeps reverberating in my ears this past few days has been “You can only do as much as you can dream!” It’s something beautiful, which at the same time seems daunting, but it’s not!

Of course, Joel Barker is right when he says “Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world.” It is in that light, in connection to what we’ve been taught about manageable goals and stretch goals this past week that I have decided to use this blog to track my progress until the eventual realization of that ultimate vision which is The Dream Institute (sounds fancy, don’t it?).

This blog itself is one of the manageable goals which I have set.

I get to tick one off, right?