Tag Archive | "dreams"

Hold Fast to Your Dreams

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In the 1993 biographical drama Rudy, a young man from a small steel mill town overcomes his physical limitations, intellectual shortcomings, and the doubts of friends and family members to achieve his dream of gaining acceptance and playing football for Notre Dame University.  The true story, based on the life of Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger, chronicles his childhood aspirations, academic deficiencies, and familial and societal pressures impeding the pursuit of his dream.  Ultimately, through dogged determination and hard work, Rudy triumphs in a way that serves not only to fulfill his aspirations but also to uplift and inspire his younger siblings and us all.

In the film, during a lunchroom conversation with his best friend Pete, whose untimely passing in a steel mill accident provides the impetus for Rudy to break with family and fiancé and head to South Bend, Indiana to seek acceptance to Notre Dame, Pete offers a definition of “dreams” when he quotes his own father saying that “dreams are what makes life tolerable.”

More than “tolerable,” I would contend that dreams are what make life stimulating and meaningful.  Absent dreams, our lives would meander haphazardly from experience to experience.  With little or no significance attached to any of our experiences, each day would be a virtual replica of the previous one and would compound the sense of life’s meaninglessness.  Without meaning, our actions become pointless.  And, without action, a pall is cast over that expanse of time that is life without purpose.  A life shrouded in depression and poverty of spirit is not worth living.

And so, hold fast to your dreams.  Pursue them with jubilation, hope, and tenacity. Though the dream should remain unfulfilled, you will find that the steps themselves taken toward its achievement represent victories that, no matter how small, will provide your life with purpose and significance.

While providing you with a life of purpose, your dreams may also inspire others.  Dreams are infectious.  Witnessing your efforts to achieve your dreams encourages others to pursue theirs.  And, the sense of accomplishment accompanying fulfillment of a dream stimulates the development and quest to achieve yet more challenging dreams.

The film ends with Rudy being carried off the field in his final collegiate game, but Rudy’s life and story continued.  What he has dreamed and accomplished since that time are fully known only by him and those closest to him.  While achievement of few of life’s dreams is heralded by tens of thousands of cheering supporters, the value of each dream achieved is not diminished.  For each dream is an embryo in a purpose-driven life. 

In Dreams

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Dreams have puzzled, motivated, and terrified mankind for all of recorded history and probably beyond.  Although dreaming is universal to the human condition, surprisingly little is known of its purpose and significance in our lives.  And yet, our waking preoccupation with our dreams is a testament to the deference with which we treat them.


Scientific investigation has concluded that dreams occur during periods of heightened brain activity when external stimuli are blocked from the mind, as in sleep.  These periods of heightened activity occur during REM (rapid eye movements) cycles from four to six times nightly and in the non-REM period in the hour or two immediately before waking.  During these periods, parts of our brains are functioning at near-awake levels.


Aggregately, we remember few of our dreams – less than 3% according to most scientific studies.  And, the dreams we do remember are often fragmentary and evanescent.  Yet, most of us have had the experience of awakening and attempting to reconstruct or interpret the meaning of a dream remembered from our sleep state.


In antiquity, dreams were considered to be messages from God or the gods.  And thus, in the Bible are numerous mentions of specific dreams including Jacob’s dream of a stairway or ladder to heaven in Genesis and Joseph’s dreams of contacts with angels that led him to accept the then-pregnant Mary as his wife and later, to flee with wife and child to Egypt, as written in the Gospel of Saint Matthew.


Today, many people still believe dreams to be messages, either from natural or supernatural sources.  And, interpretation of dreams has become a booming cottage industry with numerous books and psychics at the ready to assist us in ascertaining their meanings.


A basic problem in interpreting dreams is that our dreams themselves, or our memories of them, are frequently fragmentary and disjointed.  Most of us desire stories to be neatly packaged, with a beginning, middle, and end – although, not necessarily in that order.  Dreams, however, defy rules of storytelling and timelines.  They are often snippets or snapshots of places, people, or things, the connections of which are seemingly incongruous.  Time in dreams can be sequential, simultaneous, or nonexistent.


Although dreams are hardly the stuff of reality programming, the emotions felt by the dreamer are genuine.  In this regard, dreams may be a subconscious attempt by our minds to come to terms with real-life waking issues.  But, whether messages from the supernatural or own subconscious minds, dreams, depending upon their nature and content, will continue to divert, bemuse, and plague us.


Perhaps, in the gulf between reality and dreams lies eternity.  Or perhaps, as in the lyrics of the late, great Roy Orbison, dreams enable us to recapture  something precious that has been lost.

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