We are raised on the language of fortune and fairy tales. We are fed the dream. The princess is rescued from her tower, Snow White is awakened with the kiss of her prince charming, and Cinderella’s shoe fits perfectly. They begin once upon a time. They end happily ever after. Always, happily ever after. And we chase that dream. But something is chasing us as well. Nightmares lay in wait. There are wolves in the enchanted forest and poison apples. Sometimes the princess is left alone in her tower. Sometimes the kiss never comes.
Life does not dictate the dream or the nightmare. They are of equal footing. It is we who decide what will fill the pages of our story. Dreams are what we seek, nightmares are what pursue us on the way. And they do find us, all too often.
Dreams give us something to reach for, something to set us on fire from the inside out. They are meant to sustain, fostering a belief that can be protected in the recesses of our soul. They are the spark and our hope when the nightmare arrives; when the storm rushes forth and we are overtaken by the swell. The dream is the light that can’t be swallowed by the dark. It is why we endure. That dream, however small, however simple, can be the thing that allows us to survive it all. And survive we must. It’s not enough to dream out loud. It must be rooted to something deeply held within us, and it must be something we fight to keep, a resident of our heart, fuel for the soul, something we don’t just let happen to us, but we pursue with fervency, a bold courage, and unrelenting deliberation.
Nightmares will descend and envelope, but unlike the dreams we sustain, they are fleeting. When our “Once Upon a Time…” is overtaken by the nightmares and we don’t find our “Happily Ever After,” the dreams we keep alive won’t let us believe that it will ever be too late, that it is ever really “The End.”