A boy in a wheelchair dreams of dancing.
It’s the biggest dream he has that fills him up with hope.
‘There’s all this new research that they’re doing and I think if I tried them all, one of them is bound to work for me,’ he smiles at his school counselor.
‘I read your file and… you know you are severely crippled,’ she answers him, holding sheets of medical research in her hands. ‘These studies take ten years or more before they are even tested on humans…’
And as the words of his counselor sinks into his heart, he bows his head and leaves the room. He lets go of his dream. Someone finally woke him up to reality.
‘It’s not going to happen, but I’m really okay,’ he says to his girlfriend. ‘I’ll make new dreams. I’ll dream of things that are possible.’
Yes, I was watching episode #19 of Glee’s first season and in my heart, applauded the scriptwriters for handling the delicate, nearly intangible topic of hope and reality, with dignity and grace. Year after year, thousands of hopeful wannabees put themselves out in American Idol auditions… and I am always amazed at how many people live in a bubble where all things are possible.
‘My momma says I’m a great singer so f%#k you Simon Cowell!’ I hear that statement repeated time and again on the show.
One of the hardest things I’ve had to handle, when auditioning singers in the past, was telling them that they didn’t have the natural foundations for what makes a good singer. Here I am, on one hand, telling people to build visions and dreams, while the flipside to what I do is bringing reality into what simply cannot be. I do my best to help them seek out their natural giftings and build on what’s already in them.
Dreams and reality – if there ever was a better conundrum, I haven’t found it.
‘Years ago, I couldn’t carry a tune,’ SoftSpeaker once said to me. ‘I know you won’t believe it but I never sang in public, and when I did, people told me I wasn’t cut out to be a singer. But it was all I dreamed of doing.’
She has since recorded albums and her voice is heard on at least two internationally marketed albums. She has performed in front of thousands and yet, here is a girl who says she couldn’t sing. What would have happened then, if she allowed someone else’s opinion change her course?
Can a dream be so powerful it changes the very elements of a person’s physical makeup, taking the impossible into the realm of possibility? Would that have worked for the boy in the wheelchair?
The first song I ever sang for my vocal teacher (more than ten years ago) was Dream A Little Dream (funny… I only just saw the irony of my selection) and because she was a jazz singer, she cut me off. I think I hurt her ears and caused embarrassment to her favourite genre of music.
Back then, I actually harboured dreams of performing on stage. My first vocal teacher (the temperamental witch!) was unyielding in her attack on my dreams and truthfully, I thank her for that because in injecting such mockery at my juvenile vocal attempts, she steered my dreaming into the right direction.
Today, I know that I’m not cut out to be a singer with albums under her belt. My ideals are lowered and I just want to sing well enough to hold a song without the cringe factor, while I do what’s necessary on stage. I have since sung in choir recordings, taught choir singers, done backing vocals, performed in musicals and my forte (if any) would be funny, dramatic and hilarious pieces. Yes, my singing is more a support role to what I do better – I am a communicator.
Do I still dream? Hell yes.
But I’ve also learnt the difference between fantasies and actual dreams. My definitions of both categories are based on a healthy combination of experience, brutally honest people, hope… and a sprinkling of all-things-are-possibility.
I fantasize about writing a book (while I battle deadlines for short articles), running a restaurant (I don’t even cook regularly though I must say, I eat well) and being in the top 20 fastest runners of a marathon (when I can’t even finish running 10k).
And my dreams? Ultimately, I just want to be happy and fulfilled every single moment of my day.
But that might just be made up of many tiny little fantasies… and that’s why it’s important to keep it all alive. With the power of dreaming and the Dream Maker’s ability, it might all come true.
Am I contradicting myself in this entire post? Yes. Because that’s precisely what dreams do.
They contradict reality and offer the solace that one day, what we want will happen, what we want changed will finally transform and what we desire most of all is really, already in our hands.
I say, dream on.
Now please excuse me while I go back to my fantasies.