What are your dreams?
On your morning drive
on your subway commute
when you’re at home, in bed and close your eyes..
what do you dream of?
In this thrilling, mysterious, epic journey that is life, what do you find yourself imagining, thinking of or praying for the most?
It can be an object. It can also be a state of mind or a feeling.
Is it a job? Is it love? Is it a bigger home in a safer neighborhood for your family?
Is it a vacation? Perhaps there are places in this vast, wondrous world of ours that you’d like to visit. Places that only seemed like a fairytale in magazines or on tv.
Maybe you just want to be happy and experience a joy not hindered by depression, bills, injury or fear.
Regardless of race, gender, location or profession, We are all connected by our natural human inclination to dream and aspire.
Just like the 5 senses (sound, sight, taste touch, smell)
Dreaming is a sensory experience that adds such rich color to our lives.
It’s as profound as the sense of sight that allows us to watch birds sail through the sky.
It’s as miraculous as when music meets our ears.
It’s as gratifying as it is to feel the the comforting touch of a loved one.
But having all of these full, awesome visions for your life doesn’t come without hardship.
That’s because our dreams have a persistently negative long-lost cousin, twice removed constantly trying to get in our ear.
Dreams, meet Cousin Doubt.
Cousin doubt likes to come over to the crib, put their feet up on your couch and then proceed to tell you what you can and can’t do.
Doubt just loves to point out all of your flaws, failures and obstacles.
Cousin Doubt wants to make you feel like and idiot and discourage you from dreaming.
Doubt is a hater. Plain and simple.
Have you ever doubted if you can actually accomplish your goals?
Ever felt as though you were too naive for your own ambitions?
Thought that maybe the doubters and the haters were right about you all along?
Have you ever come close to giving up on your dreams?
It’s ok, friends. Many of us have been there.
Self doubt is normal. It doesn’t mean than you are a failure.
It’s just a sign that you are beautifully human.
Quite often we abandon our #lifegoals
not because we don’t really want to accomplish them-
but many times we give up on them because the circumstances in front of and around us can seem so overwhelming, so unrelenting and so unfair that our dreams feel unachievable.
As a singer, actor and songwriter, the essence of my livelihood is filled with uncertainty.
My life as an artist is not like other professions where there is a relatively clear path of success (good school+ great grades+ a degree or 2 usually = a career path with an expected annual income).
The arts are less a meritocracy and more so a Wild West crapshoot with a combination of timing, talent, connections, competition and complete randomness all aligning in some way to determine success. Most of us know what it’s like to face constant rejection.
Right now, someone out there reading this finds themselves living in the space between destiny and defeat.
They may find themselves on the edge of happiness and hopelessness-
Between greatness and grief.
Whoever you are. Whatever your pursuit is.. I promise you- ….I PROMISE YOU
VICTORY IS ON IT’S WAY!
The peace of mind, success and/or spiritual fulfillment you seek can come true.
The question is. Will you be impatient and throw it away?
Or are you willing to wait for it?
Aaron Burr, sir
“Wait For It” is 3:14 of inspirational rapture written by “Hamilton” creator and star,
Lin Manuel Miranda ( obscure name, I know. Maybe some of you have heard of him).
It’s sung by Aaron Burr, a role originated by Tony winner, Leslie Odom Jr.
Odom is one of the most honest, emotionally giving and just downright talented artists to have ever stepped foot on a Broadway stage. The dexterity of his vocal talents and the beautiful nuance of his communication as an actor are the perfect vehicle to communicate Aaron Burr’s complex duality.
You see, in the show (and in historical analysis), Aaron Burr is often criticized for playing things too safe. He is often coy and neutral where others are visibly expressive and committed. He is strategically passive where others are passionate.
But while Burr can understandably be called a coward, he is also unquestionably ambitious. “Wait For It” is the moment in the show where he seems to pull back the curtain of his facade to tell the audience and reminds himself that that he filled with ambition, purpose and passionate desire.
He lets us know that his choice to “wait” isn’t apathy but actually proof of the depth of his commitment.
Although he feels neutral, lost in the crowd, and somewhat powerless, he empowers himself with a reminder of just how powerful he really is.
“I am inimitable!
I am an orignal!”
This song’s exploration of the power of patience resonates greatly.
Here are a few reflections on dreams and waiting.
Patience Builds Character
“We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope Romans 5:3-4 (English Standard Version)
We are a society that lives for instant gratification.
We are becoming more intolerant of obstacles – our threshold for adversity seems to be diminishing.
It can be easy to be discouraged by the waiting process when there are so many examples of overnight celebrities and rags to riches lotto winners constantly marketed to us.
But remember that it’s the quiet moments of struggle where you truly become stronger.
Your mind sharpens, your resolve grows and by having your faith tested, it will eventually increase it even more.
This is what it means to rejoice in suffering. It isn’t a celebration or even an direct invitation for suffering. It’s a joy that comes from knowing that what doesn’t destroy you makes you stronger.
“Wait” Still Means “Work”
The word ‘wait’ can be a little misleading.
Merriam-Webster uses phrases like “to delay”, “stay in place” and “to remain stationary” in order to define waiting. So when we are asked to wait for something, we naturally assume that this means that we are to remain inactive and un-engaged; to just stand idle and wait for the time to pass like a misbehaving child placed on timeout.
Please remember, that just because you’re waiting for an opportunity, that doesn’t mean that you are sentenced to some kind of professional or spiritual purgatory. There is still much that you can do to make sure that every moment is fulfilled and with purpose
Wait is a verb; an action word.
Your dreams still require your participation while you wait for your moment of truth.
“I’m not standing still I’m lying in wait”
Are you waiting for a life changing phone call that will land you your dream job?
Whether you’re a teacher, lawyer, secretary, nurse, fast food worker, athlete, artist or an entrepreneur, YOUR DREAMS CAN ABSOLUTELY COME TRUE.
But in the meantime, you should be continuously developing and expanding the skills required for you to take your passion to the next level.
This means studying to acquire deeper understanding. It means practicing to sharpen your abilities. It means simply just going out there on your own and find ways to do what you love without waiting for the permission of some big-shot to call and give you permission to be that which you already are.
Having The Courage To Wait, Honors Your Worth
In certain circumstances, patience can serve as evidence of how greatly you value yourself and your dreams.
Academy Award winning actor Denzel Washington often shares a story about an early career choice to turn down a role and the positive impact that discipline had on his career.
Denzel was offered a role in a movie that he felt was demeaning to his race and unworthy of his talents. Thanks to the advice of Sidney Portier, Denzel realized that hastily accepting a well paying job in the interest of fast success would devalue his image and limit his potential for future success.
Because he listened to his instincts and had the courage to wait for something better, he is now one of the most successful actors in Hollywood history.
Do you know that you are someone special?
Do you know that all of the positive character traits and unique qualities about you mean that you are not someone to be diminished?
Do you know that you are worthy of happiness and fulfillment?
Do you know that you are worthy of love?
You really are.
However, I know how hard it can be hard to remember that in this world of social media that we are so consumed by.
It seems to encourage unhealthy psychological competitions and convinces us that we need to progress in life more quickly for the benefit of pleasing and keeping up with others.
Who has the best job..
Who goes on the best vacations…
Who has the most desirable spouse..
Who has the cutest baby..
Who is the most successful (#booked for those who audition for a living)
Who wins the most awards
Who’s content gets the most likes or shares..
It’s all so exhausting.
And it’s all so meaningless.
Your value is not predicated on popularity or even by the acceptance of others.
Don’t feel pressured to make certain choices if they aren’t a healthy reinforcement of what you represent or what you desire out of life.
Don’t cheapen your awesome potential by buying into the low expectations of those who don’t even understand how great you are and how great you can be.
Don’t distort your natural beauty just to fit inside of someone else’s flawed perspective of it.
Thou Shalt Not Only Take and Take and Take…
So much of our daily lives are focused on ourselves.
It’s important for us to remember that we are a global community of billions and there are friends and strangers out there who could use some of our attention and love.
Life should be about more than what it can do for us as individuals.
If you only spend time thinking about what YOU want, what YOU need, what YOU don’t have and how YOU feel, then it’s understandable why you will feel sad, anxious or angry whenever obstacles in life present themselves.
We also have the tendency to forget that the things that we are going through or the things that we feel that we are without really aren’t all that bad.
My great-grandmother Margarete would always say
“things are never so bad that they couldn’t be worse”.
It’s all about perspective.
When you choose to devote more of your time and energy to the effort of lifting others, it shifts your perspective
Don’t be a leech. Don’t be a thing who’s only function is to take away life’s blood from someone else just to feed yourself. Feed others with love, kindness, compassion, encouragement and support.
WORTH THE ‘WAIT’
When you endure through uncertain times, it makes victory that much sweeter.
What’s a rainbow without the rain?
In actuality, the colors in rainbows are always present but they don’t become visible to the human eye until water passes through and reveals the lights to us.
Without a storm, we wouldn’t be able to witness the joy of the colors afterwards.
Similarly, the pretty diamonds that many enjoy only exist after having gone through intense heat and pressure.
Just like a diamond, your purpose is revealed in the midst of pressure.
Just like the rainbow, the light inside of you is best shown after you’ve gone through some storms.
I know that times get tough and life can be especially challenging.
But you will make it through!!
Be patient. Hold on to your faith and your dreams and once you reach your breakthrough, the joy you will experience will be immeasurably greater than it would have been if you got everything you wanted exactly when you thought you were supposed to have it.
It may that feel that way now, but your struggles will soon be apart of a beautiful testimony.
One Last Point
This is somewhat an aside. A little abstract but still something for all of us dreamers to ponder none the less.
When we think of realizing our dreams, we typically think of the things that we want.
We usually think of the things that we consciously desire.
But what if your destiny is something that you’re not even actively searching for?
What if your dream isn’t even known to you yet?
What do I mean?
You ask “how can my dream or destiny be something that I don’t know?”
Indulge me for a moment more and I’ll explain.
Think of dreaming in the context of sleep.
Sleep experts tell us that our dreams are a sequence of subconscious thoughts that freely dance around while we are asleep. This means that not every dream we have we are asleep is an intended vision.
Tonight, when I go to sleep, no matter how much I may want to dream of driving a race car or being the main event at the next WrestleMania or of Derrick Rose still playing for the Bulls (still too soon…I know), theres a good chance that I won’t dream any of that.
Much like how we have some dreams at night that we don’t actively summon, there are beautiful possibilities awaiting us in life that we haven’t even conceived yet.
As a kid who grew up moving around the Southside of Chicago, I never ever pictured myself performing professionally in musicals and plays. I didn’t grow up listening to Broadway cast albums like a lot of performers and I surely didn’t know that it was a thing that people could actually do for a living.
Now my journey in the theatrical industry has certainly seen it’s share of trials, frustrations and disappointments, but the unplanned occurrence in my life of a career in theater has taken me across North America and has resulted in some irreplaceable bonds that I am thankful to God for.
Be open to the idea that your dream job, your dream house, your dream lifestyle could be so grand, so magical and so fulfilling that it hasn’t even been realized by you yet!
Maybe you started out wanting to be a high-priced attorney but then will find true joy and completion being a chef.
Maybe instead of the fancy 6 bedroom mansion that you’ve always wanted, perhaps you will find no home more comforting than the humble 2 bedroom apartment and the neighborhood that it’s in.
All I’m saying is that life is a continuously growing and evolving event.
Be open to the freedom that comes from knowing that all things are possible.
Whatever your destiny, continue to dream. Continue to work with the passion and excitement as if you knew that your dream is coming to you at any second.
Your life can absolutely change in the blink of an eye
But don’t be afraid to wait for it.