"I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear." - Martin Luther King Jr.
On the third Monday of January every year, we honor a man who spoke for our the aliveness in us all.
As Coretta Scott King reflected, "The Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday celebrates the life and legacy of a man who brought hope and healing to America."
Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech changed the world. MLK showed us that dreams have tremendous power, and eventually, all dreams fueled by faith, passion, patience and persistence come to fruition.
In honor of the man who had that noble dream, here are five thoughts on the true power of dreams.
1) Dreams give us vision. Our dreams can take us from chaos to clarity, and eventually to concept. Keep a dream journal to start understanding the language of your unconscious. Look for recurring symbols that may offer a meaningful perspective on an issue you may be struggling with. After a night filled with vivid dreams, jot or doodle down as many images or thoughts you can remember. Symbols may emerge as guides in your daily life, as well as creative allies, leading to self-realization and fulfillment.
2) Dreams can bring direction to our detours. We've all had things in life that haven't worked out as we planned -- a breakup, a breakdown, a loss, a setback -- everyone deals with "detours" in their path. A detour is many things -- unexpected, a nuisance, difficult, hard to grapple with, frustrating -- but it can be beautiful. When the road looks like a dead-end, our dreams can create new pathways for us to travel along. Dreams help us find the beauty in "not knowing" by bringing images and sensations into our awareness that we might not be able to grasp onto ourselves, when trying to navigate our detoured route. Dreams have the power turn our "detours" in life into everyday blessings.
3) Dreams give us faith that healing is possible. They show us the potential of the human spirit. As Peter Levine, author of Waking the Tiger, says, "I have come to the conclusion that human beings are born with an innate capacity to triumph over trauma. I believe not only that trauma is curable, but that the healing process can be a catalyst for profound awakening -- a portal opening to emotional and genuine spiritual transformation. I have little doubt that as individuals, families, communities, and even nations, we have the capacity to learn how to heal and prevent much of the damage done by trauma. In so doing, we will significantly increase our ability to achieve both our individual and collective dreams."
4) Dreams fuel the fierce drive to bring our passion into the world. Dreams come from our innermost desires. They tell us not necessarily how we'll get there, but why we need to get there. Once we have the "why", the "how" will work itself out. All we need is that fierce conviction that can only come from dreams to act as our compass. Keep dreaming -- Remember: Martin Luther King Jr. once gave a riveting "I have a dream" speech. It was NOT the "I have a plan" speech! How can it create the world of your dreams?
5) Dreams remind us who we are. Our dreams are the seeds that God plans for us, where our intuition whispers to us, and where we can find an anchor to our place in the world -- even if we are "displaced" from it. In our dreams, we can find our way back home. After almost losing my own life, my dreams are now my safe place, where I can mingle with myself and with God. They are my Velcro to the universe and an ever-flowing fountain of faith, replenishing my trust in life whenever circumstances may make me afraid. Dreams dreamed me back into life.
Dreaming to Survive
I learned the rejuvenating and transformative power of dreams firsthand. After my life-saving surgeries at 18 years old, I gained life back after my coma, but lost the only world I knew. Defeated, my "inspiration" became worn. and my imagination lost its bubbliness, fizzling into "survival mode." Eventually, through my dreams, I learned to re-trust those buried-away fantasies and ideas in my mind, and allow them to send me soaring for the day, taking a risk and daring to believe again. Dreams reminded that "Amy" was still in there. I dreamed my "aliveness" until I felt that aliveness in my body and flesh. It took time, but thankfully, dreams are an ever-renewing source -- a source that rebuilt my faith.
Or, as Martin Luther King, Jr. himself once said, "Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase."
Dreams inspired me to take that first step.
Thank you, Martin Luther King Jr., for inspiring faith, dreams, and all the power they hold for our world. The greatest gift we can give to each other is little steps in faith, trust, compassion, and bringing our dreams to light.