A couple of days ago my daughter Elsa and I watched Cinderella for the umpteeth time. The movie begins with the song, “A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes“. And listening to the song, and the familiar story that followed, got me thinking…
In our childhood we embrace the fairytale fantasy that Walt Disney does so well to present. As a little girl, like so many others, I dreamt of being Cinderella or Snow White, of meeting my Prince Charming, of being swept off my feet, of having my life transformed in what seems like an instant. These dreams are fantasy we are told as we grow, fantastic but not reality, and we are told to abandon these dreams, to be practical, to teach ourselves to ‘grow up.’
Growing up means that instead of Prince Charming we look for a Good Provider. Instead of being swept off our feet, we are taught to take care of ourselves. Some even go so far as feel that these childhood dreams are damaging and destructive because no reality can live up to them and we can let life pass us by as we wait for our dreams to be fulfilled.
I spent a lot of my childhood alone in strange homes and many hospitals under different, sometimes frightening circumstances. My dreams and fantasies is what kept me going. Without them I don’t think I would be as whole as I am today. I needed to believe in magic. Raised without a religious background, my dreams were my faith in the good that can come around the corner.
So as I watched Cinderella with my 5-year old daughter, I thought about my dreams and how they have carried me through my life. I agree that living in a world of fantasy is not healthy, nor do we need a Prince Charming to feel good about ourselves, but I don’t think we have to “grow’ out of our dreams if they matter to us. I never did.
We all want different things in life and what I always wanted was true love. Not the practical, take care of you and be by your side love (not that it is bad) but the full blown love of my life, eyes sparkle when we look at each other, fairytale love. You see I always believed it was out there and that I may not meet him riding up on a horse but if I just waited I would meet him, one day. Thank god I didn’t give up on my dreams because if I had, I wouldn’t have recognized true love when I finally found it.
So while it took a while with some detours along the way, I did finally find love in an unlikely place in unexpected way with someone I would have never imagined. Yet my dreams pushed me to give it a try, to follow my heart and just “see”.
I think the danger of losing your dreams is as great as following them blindly. I had to learn to take care of myself, to pursue a career, to be responsible. But I did all that while staying open to my heart’s wish, to my dream.
This is my second post where I have referenced Cinderella and I think I feel akin to her story. All great love stories have a period of struggle and sacrifice before the lovers are united. Ours is no different. Our separation has been very long and hard but we accept it because of the reward of being a family. Our sacrifice has shown to ourselves and others that this relationship is real. How much easier it would be if we loved someone else yet also how unthinkable. The doubters have not been silenced but they are much quieter now. We have not reached our magic moment but we are much closer.
As a parent I encourage my children’s dreams as well as their independence. I don’t think they have to choose between taking care of themselves and dreaming big. They are not mutually exclusive.
As culture, Americans have moved away from fantasy and focused on the here and now. In other cultures where ritual and faith are more integral in daily life, you also see more belief in magic, miracles and dreams. I honor my self-sufficient American sensibility. I appreciate that I can roll up my sleeves and get it done. But I also have learned to cultivate the woman, or perhaps the girl, in me who has fantastic dreams and believes (now knows) that…
“No matter how your heart is grieving
If you keep on believing
the dream that you wish will come true”