Healthy Awareness: When do we give up on our dreams?

At the “Looking Back, Moving Forward” exhibit opening at the Fullerton Museum, there were many beautiful art pieces.

As you enter the gallery, you see the first painting on canvas by Elise Acosta. It is entitled “No Escape,” depicting her estrangement from her father, who was once supportive of her art career. The woman is encased in a bubble reaching upward. Elise said “that her world was turned upside down and she had no way to get back” during this time. Perhaps her painting had been therapeutic, and today there will be one in which the woman is out of the bubble, for she reconciled with her father before his death.

It’s exciting to view the art of women such as Sharon Kennedy’s “More than Flowers Needed this Time,” Donna Edman’s photos from her book “Wisdom of Women,” and 93-year-old artist Fay Colman’s “Flower,” among many others. The art exhibit is open until August 16th, so go to see it.

I ran into Walter Clark at the exhibit at the Fullerton Museum, and he questioned me about my dream article. He said, “When is it time to give up one’s dreams?” I think about the time when my friends and colleagues Delia, Alex, Randy, and I had a dream about a program to combat bullying in schools.

This program encompassed working with those being bullied and those who were bullies. We called ourselves the Center for Social Integrity. I was teaching a class at the University of Southern California consisting of doctorate students who were superintendents and principals of high schools, and we presented our idea to them. Unfortunately, our dream did not come to fruition, primarily due to a lack of financial support from the schools. Not only were we without money, but we were tired, and family obligations took precedence. It died on the vine, so to speak. It is sad because bullying is still a problem, and nothing much has been done about it, even as our previous first lady declared bullying her project.

Reflecting on our time together working at the Center of Social Integrity, it was a particular time of working together and forming long-term relationships. There was the unity of having a shared dream and trying to make it come true.

I asked Walter if he ever had a dream. He said he wanted to provide useful products to people. He spent a year trying to build a telescope and gave up that dream due to finances. Then there was his idea of a computer language curriculum. Ten other patents followed, which never went into production or became profitable. However, Walter valued the time he spent working on his ideas and said that the inventing process was the most fun in his engineering career.

I read that the statistics of inventors whose dreams come true is only about 5 percent. What about the artists who lived in poverty and were never recognized for their art? What drove them? I also think about the dreams of those artists whose artwork is displayed in the Fullerton Museum. Can dreams become an addiction, like believing you will strike it rich by winning the lottery? I conclude that if dreams become financially maladaptive and negatively affect the creator, their family, and their friends, perhaps they should be given up. However, if there is joy in these pursuits, keep dreaming.

An interesting anecdote about dreams is from Brene Brown’s book, Atlas of the Heart. “When someone shares their hopes and dreams with us, we are witnessing deep courage and vulnerability. Celebrating their successes is easy, but when disappointment happens, it’s an incredible opportunity for meaningful connection.” This reaches the heart and feelings of how we treat our dreamers. Dream on.