What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
– Langston Hughes
The constancy with which I must light a match to keep my candle-lit hopes burning is exhausting. It requires patience and self-soothing after the mental injuries I inflict upon myself for not fully devoting myself to my dream. It requires support, not just from within, but from others outside myself. It must fight not to wane in the face of friends and family, meaning well, but serving only as redundant doubt and unneeded worry. It requires tired eyes and aching hearts; it requires perseverance. And, like anything important in life, it takes sacrifice. I have to stop for a moment and tell myself to choose: write or talk on the phone? write or go out? write or eat out? write or TV? write or exercise? And maybe the answer isn’t always “write”, but it must mostly be, because I am a fledgling, still trying to stay spry on my feet, so that maybe one day I can fly.
But it takes many falls to learn how to fly.
Why do we fall?
So we can learn to pick ourselves up,¹ so we know that when we rise it was because we had the strength to. Because to pick oneself up, no matter how much you tell yourself that you can’t do it, that you aren’t good enough, that you were a fool for ever thinking anything different, requires a bit of hope, no matter how infinitesimally tiny it is. Every time you stand up, you prove that there’s a corner of your heart, no matter how small, that believes. Every time you stand tall, no matter how tired you are of the effort, you show that you are tenacious in your dreaming, that you are steadfast, that you will not let the voices whispering in your ear get inside your head. So cry, weep, moan, groan, punch the pillows and clench your fists – as long as you do not fail to rise. It does not matter if there was never much hope²; even a fool’s hope can and will carry you to through to the end. It does not matter whether it takes an hour, a day, a week, a year, a decade. It does not matter how far you fall, the depth you must crawl back up from.
All that matters is that you did.
A dream deferred is never lost, no matter the length of its stay in the shadows. A dream deferred is not deferred forever. A dream deferred pounds in your blood, demanding to be heard, reminding you that it is here and it is not leaving. A dream deferred only leaves when you can no longer see it, feel it – when you stop it like you would the beating of your heart – when the very thing that is you, leaves – until, yes, it explodes with the might that is a seed of hope, sewed diligently and innocently into you, refusing to let you let it go.
Don’t think that there isn’t time. There is always time because time is what you make of it. You choose where and who to give it to. You are in control.
But, AND THIS IS A BIG BUT, if you do NOT take the time – forgive yourself. Light the candle, again.
I refuse to wilt at the sign that I have a long, long trudge left to get to my mountain – and if even with every ounce of determination one or two petals fall off, I promise to that little dream that I will fight and stand, no matter how lengthy or difficult the struggle. I will keep that candle warm and burning long, because my star is brighter and bigger than the confined space I have lent it.
I have a story inside me demanding to let itself be heard, and the only way I know to combat that voice is to let it speak.
This dream will not be deferred – and if it is, it will not be for long.
1. Quoted from Batman Begins
2. The wonderful Gandalf from Lord of the Rings: Return of the King