Maybe we are not supposed to fulfill our dreams, but instead lay the foundations for future generations to carry out the work and complete the dreams.
This was the thought that came to me as I sat down to write this piece. I also thought about what it could possibly mean for each us who are the bearers of dreams we hope to see manifested.
I came across an audio version of a lesser-known speech entitled Unfulfilled Dreams given by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. one month before he was assassinated. In it, he talked about King David’s dream to build a temple and how he died before he was able to carry out the vision. Dr. King said, “At so many points we start, we try, we set out to build our various temples. And I guess one of the great agonies of life is that we are constantly trying to finish that which is unfinishable. We are commanded to do that. And so we, like David, find ourselves in so many instances having to face the fact that our dreams are not fulfilled.”
Moses was another person in the Bible who did not live to see the manifestation of his dream. He never made it to the Promised Land, but generations after him were able to enter the Land of Milk and Honey. Solomon, King David’s son, was also of the next generation and completed the Temple, thereby fulfilling the dream of his father.
Even Dr. King, who faced death threats, imprisonment and violent acts as he led the civil rights movement, did not get to see his dream of social justice come to reality before he died. After his death, the work of his dream was continued by his wife, their children and numerous advocates for social justice.
Because dreams come in different shapes and sizes, they tend to fall into one of three categories—those that we are meant to fulfill in our lifetime, those that we begin, but are completed by someone else, and those that are never meant to come true. It’s important to understand which category our dreams belong to and our expectations for their completion.
“It is the place of uncertainty that requires us to have courage in pursuing dreams.”
For example, my dream is to become a self-employed writer. I am the only one who can make it come true. It’s not something that can be left to the next generation; therefore, it’s important that I do what is required of me to fulfill it. I must also understand that despite my hard work, faith and determination, I still may never experience what it means to live in the fullness of my dream.
So, what if it isn’t always about fulfilling the dream, but instead being in process towards it? What if it’s “the doing” that matters the most? Isn’t it better to have tried, given it your all and then to come to the end of your life without regrets about not having had the courage to reach for the unknown? Perhaps what is most important is our willingness to do what is necessary in order to give birth to what is inside each of us.
Ultimately, we do not know what will be the outcome of our dreams. We are given visions and desires to succeed at manifesting them, but we do not receive guarantees. It this place of uncertainty—never knowing if our dreams will amount to what our imaginations lead us to believe is possible—that requires us to have courage in pursuing dreams. It is also in the process of doing the work that we become more of our true selves and inspire, encourage and motivate others to do their own work, while they pursue their dreams no matter the outcomes.
Eleanor Roosevelt said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” Do you believe in the beauty of your dream and the worthiness of pursuing it even if you never see it fulfilled?
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