Thursday, November 3, 2011


When I was 14, my grandfather read me Don Quixote's The Impossible Dream. He challenged me to dream the impossible dream, to fight the unbeatable foe, to try when my arms grow too weary, to right the unrightable wrong. We'd play chess and he would patiently listen to my adolescent ramblings; things I thought about, problems I wanted to solve, careers I wanted to try. He'd show me pictures of Europe or tell me stories from when he'd been "all over the world". He gets excited about the vibrancy of life and the wonders waiting to be discovered. To this day, he continues to look me in the eye and urge me to reach far, have goals, be someone....dream.

This last spring, my friend was our JC's student valedictorian. Surrounded by hundreds of caps and gowns, weepy relatives, and elated students about to transfer to universities of their own, his voice carried over the loudspeakers encouraging us to dream. Calling out to his fellow graduates, fellow "keepers of the dream", he entreated us to own brave...remember what we'd learned and do the most with the opportunities we are given. Dreams can be frightening and daunting, but something we must pursue with confidence. "Keepers of the dream", he challenged, "now is our time."

And today, sitting in class at UCSD, we analyzed socio-cultural anthropologist Appadurai's theory of Capacity to Aspire. He argues that impoverished people need their voices to be heard. That development discourse should revolve around the opinions and needs of the people in question...not the agendas or wallets of international organizations and companies. When given a voice, when given the opportunity to envision a future for themselves and their descendants, the destitute can finally dream. So often, the Western world doesn't realize how incredibly fortunate they are to be able to dream, to aspire, to imagine and innovate. When every moment is not dedicated to basic survival, we can enjoy the luxury of "what if". I, for one, had definitely taken this for granted.

Dreams are powerful tools. They are also a privilege. And since we have the freedom to dream....let's dream big.


The Autumn Rain said...

Love this. Thank you.


Mary: said...

I love it, too. It's so good I have to share it - I hope you don't mind :-)