When I was young I had a dream of becoming a lawyer then becoming the first female Chief Justice of Kenya. I was very determined, ok in my words, but my actions were not collaborating with me. You see I am a versatile learner. I get easily bored of doing the same thing over and over. So even though I have an absorbing memory and was able to easily regurgitate in the exams what the teachers had said during the term, I never kept still. If I was not skiving off to buy mandazi through the school fence in Primary school, I was skipping classes in high school and missing evening preps all together.
And the way the Kenyan education system is wired, you either tow the line or fall down the abyss. I fell down the abyss. Never got grades to take me to public university, leave alone take a law degree. All did not get lost though, I still made my way through undergraduate and graduate school. Still got dreams of a PhD 😊 😊
But in the eyes of my grandmother, I was a lawyer. That is the name she called me to her dying bed. Even on her phone book she had saved me as Lawyer. My loving uncle up until recently still called me Chief Justice . . . sigh
Over the growing years, I have had many other dreams, which fortunately or unfortunately have come to naught. Some of those dreams have been very dear and hard to let go while others, well, I easily let slide.
I am sure you have also had your fair share of dreams. Some have lived while unfortunately or fortunately other have died.
When I grow up I want to be . . .
I will be married . . .
I will own my own house . . .
I will have children . . .
I will have travelled the world . . .
I will have lost weight . . .
I will have a six pack . . .
I will be earning a 6 figure salary . . .
I will have published my first book . . .
I will have . . .
I will have done . . .
I will be . . .
Then dream death strikes
It is not an easy thing to acknowledge the death of a dream, let alone letting the dead dream go. If you are like me, you are always resuscitating dreams, putting them on life support and continuing to pay huge emotional, financial, mental, social and physical bills (price) to keep such dreams alive. At some point you realize, you need, you must face the reality that your beloved dream is no more. And then allow the grieving process to begin: easier said than done.
As I continue to grow #IAm35 now, I am daily reconciling with the reality that dreams can and do die. The reality that holding on to some of these dreams to the detriment of even m y health is not a wise choice continues to dawn on me every day, but the willpower to let go is something else all together. And so I have been on a dream funeral phase for almost a year now. Taking stock of my dreams, big and small, consequential and not so consequential and putting to rest those that are no longer breathing.
Grieving Process or better Grieving Maze
One of the things I have realized with the loss of a dream as with the loss of a loved one the grieving process swings into action immediately. As with the loss of human life, the grieving process of a dream does not follow the chatted path. Instead of moving from one stage to another it is a mixed up maze of emotions and stages.
I teach a personal development course ‘Integrated Living’ and one of the hard lessons is on ‘Mortality’. Accepting the fact that one is mortal – limited in strength, ability, control, span of life. It is not easy to accept one’s mortality especially when faced with loss; Loss of dreams, loss of life. And that’s why the bargaining stage of grief is there. We cannot for the life of us believe that our dream, our loved one is slipping from us and there is nothing, nothing that we can do to stop this.
Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate M.D in their book “Hold On To Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter Than Peers” call this feeling ‘futility’. Realizing your limitation, it is such an asset in living life. Unfortunately many of us do not acquire this life giving skill while young and thus struggle through the rest of our life fighting futilities, on a wrestling match with futility and a losing one at that. We never learnt early enough that dreams like human beings can say a resounding NO to your advances. That dreams can reject you and you would do well to reconcile with the rejection rather than engage in the futility of fighting for dreams than are dead.
Once you engage the grieving process of your dear dreams, you are on a path towards healing and freedom. Yes the initial shock might reel you back 100 steps but you will go through, if you choose to, even when everything in your system is telling you otherwise. Because we all know peeps that have stuck in grief stages for years, numb, completely unable to move beyond shock and all through to acceptance. Once again, it is a life skill, one that we’ll all do well to cultivate in our lives and intentionally teach the younger ones for their overall life health.
The Dream Funeral
Unlike in the loss of human life where we perform elaborate funeral rites and finally bury the dead, dream funerals are not so easy to bury. Some people like Tania Ngima (watch to her story here) perform their dream funeral by writing them down in a piece of paper and then burning it up, surrounded by supporting village of course.
Please share with me other ways to perform a dream funeral.
Bottom line a dream funeral involves actions that evoke the emotions of grief and letting go. Better to do it practically in the way that works best for you, as long as you do it. And allow you to heal and to dream again!
Beauty from ashes
The beauty of dreams is that you can always dream again.
You can dream new dreams as long as life is flowing through your veins.
You can accomplish your dreams even if you have buried some.
So arise and shine!
Then go get your dreams!