#MyDreamIs || Stu Bothwell
Allow me to begin with a disclaimer: I’ve always found the conversation around dreams to be one full of tension and I find myself carrying this tension around with me every day.
I am an individual that is fuelled by vision and imagining what the future has in store. Yet, even in my dreaming, I can’t help but shake an unsettling feeling.
“What’s your dream?”
“I dream that one day I’ll ____________”
Many of the answers we hear today to the dream question are filled with a hope for the whole & a heart for the flourishing of others. Yet, in the age in which we find ourselves, increasingly often we hear answers that centre on the future achievement of a little something called success.
Being successful is no bad thing. However, when dreaming is reduced to that unfixed time in the future when I will succeed, I begin to wonder if we’ve lost sight of something significant.
Whether we realise it or not, when we dream only of the future moment in which we are looked upon as successful, we are left feeling unsatisfied with who we are today. Not only that, with placing the pressure of being ‘unsuccessful’ upon ourselves, our actions find their value & direction only in the future.
Today & what we do in it no longer matters. Only the future does.
If our dreams are tied to success, we end up devaluing today & overmphasising our dreams of a successful future. Unsatisfied with who and where we are, our attention is fixated on the future, viewing the present as simply another step towards our arrival; that moment when everything will be in its right place.
In dreaming only of success, we lost sight of the significance of today.
In focusing only on our future success, we become blinded to the value of our everyday behaviour & circumstances. Around us, all of the time, we can choose to invest in endeavours of significance. I’m talking about the everyday, simple, earthy behaviours that emphasise the value of giving all of yourself to your family, your community, your street, your craft, your business, your colleagues; I’m talking about your dream for today.
As we shift our sense of value from achieving success to discovering significance in our everyday, we bring a contribution that shapes lives, communities & cultures. We stop dreaming about the future & begin to build towards the future – a future shaped by flourishing & generosity.
Your everyday contribution matters.
It matters because your community matters. Your family matters. Your vision matters. Your neighbour matters. Your friendships matter. Your rest matters. Your art matters. Your education matters. Your sacrifice matters. Your commute matters. Your music matters. Your work matters.
Your choices & behaviours matter.
And Dr. King knew it.
His declaration from the Lincoln Memorial stands as some of the most inspirational words uttered by a human being. Yet Dr. King’s dream wouldn’t have been realised if it wasn’t for the everyday actions of courageous civil rights protestors. Subversive non-violence was the adopted approach, and in the choice to stand unwavering in commitment, a dream was realised.
This is the genius of Dr. King’s dream – a dream fuelled by a vision of the future, but shaped by the actions of today. He realised that how people choose to behave & act mattered. The most simple action of standing still, despite the brutal cost, changed the course of human history.
In the way that this world has been wired, everyday actions matter.
Participation in the everyday pursuit of significance, through everyday actions is the truest form of success.
As someone who serves a local community of faith, I find the deepest joy when those around me choose to contribute in the everyday. As they welcome people to find a home, as they feed families across the city, as they write songs, as they support the hurting, as they create a cinema for those could never afford a cinema ticket, as they invest in each other as brothers and sisters, as they choose to contribute to the life of the city in the most simple of actions, my heart becomes full.
I find a sense of purpose in revealing the significance of the everyday.
I dream that I’ll never lose sight of that.
Last year my wife & I were walking along the remains of the wall in East Berlin with its thousands of graffiti pieces bringing colour to a darkened past. Along the way we paused at a famous set of words set on a concrete canvas, which read:
“Many small people, who in many small places, do many small things, that can alter that face of the world.”