Space for Dreams, Space for Fears

My mom was one of my best friends. We talked almost every day before she died. But if you’ve been reading this blog long, you know that already. Most often, we talked about every day things like the weather and the news and what we’d done that day. One of our favorite things was to watch the moon rise together though we were 600 miles apart. 

Sometimes, we would dig deeper to the harder things. She knew my dreams, my fears, and my struggles, and did for as long as I can remember. She gave them space to breathe and me space to become. That space of safety and recognition is a sacred one, and I have come to understand that it is a place we too seldom share with others. 

One night when I was home visiting, Mama and I were lying in her bed watching television—half paying attention to what asanine thing Rose was talking about while Blanche glared at her and half talking about life. 

“What are you most afraid of?” I asked her. My mother wasn’t afraid of much.. 

“Someone having to take care of me,” she replied without a pause, never taking her eyes away from the TV.

“I would never mind, not for a second. Neither would anyone else,” I told her.

”I know, but I don’t want you to have to.” 

I thought then that her fear was simply inconveniencing others. Now I know it was much more nuanced. I would have understood that that evening if only I had asked her more, if I had more fully acknowledged her worry. I can’t do that now, nor can I ask the same questions of my father. 

I do know what both their dreams had been, before, as children—when life was wide open with possibility. They mentioned them to me once, and the heartache I felt for them as they looked back on what they could have done kept me from prying deeper. Had I been brave enough, I could have asked them more about those dreams and how they felt about them in retrospect. I could have learned from their disappointments. I could have helped them realize different dreams for a different time. I could have made them feel seen and heard. But I didn’t. 

I wish I had asked the dreams of their golden years. I wish I had pryed. 

When we share our goals and dreams with another, we are not only trusting that person with the tender sprout of hope that we have for a new happiness, we are also giving that aspiration itself a deeper root system. We are giving it a space in which to be nurtured and in which it can grow. When a friend believes in us enough to ask about our projects and our plans, they feed us and support us in immeasurable ways, often keeping us accountable to ourselves, to our dreams. When a friend knows that thing for which we hope in the middle of the night, Into which we lose hours of work toward a future we can only imagine, she has special insight into who we are and is able to see a fuller picture of us. That friend can’t do that, however, if the dream is tucked away so tightly in our hearts that it can never be seen. 

Fear, though. Fear is different. It shrinks away in the light of friendship. A fear spoken loses its power, especially when it is treated with respect, when it’s recognized and questioned and then a piece of its burden is willingly picked up by another.

Such simple gifts these are. To share your own dreams and fears. And to receive those of another. Why, then, do we hold them so close to our hearts? Why, then, do we not actively seek to know the dreams and fears of the ones we love most?

If we speak our goals and dreams aloud, now they become more real, and we are forced to address why we might not be doing everything we can to make them reality. If we speak them aloud, others will know if we fail to achieve them. If we shine light on our fears, we expose our weaknesses. 

If we ask the hard questions of our friends, they might ask them back.

Maybe this seems too high a price to pay, but I think the cost is balanced when two people both pay it to one another. 

So I am especially thankful for all of the people who care enough to follow this blog and thus give space for my dreams to take root. And my hope is to provide that same loving space for others. 


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