They will make you and break you, these three.
I was thinking about how I was raised and how I am raising my children. I think that all three of these words play a role in how we are raised, and who we become. I want to talk to you about three perspectives that consider these three words differently and I’d love to hear about yours and how they may have shaped you, and how they’ve evolved as you’ve grown and become older.
Let me define these three simple words….
Hope – I would say it’s a feeling of desire toward a positive end, and a measure of confidence that it can or will happen.
Dreams – this, to me, is when we indulge in thinking of something or we conceive of something that is very desirable to us
Plans – this is a design or a scheme we build that enables us to proceed in an ordered fashion, achieving milestones along the way
Sure, it’s easy to sit back and look those up in a dictionary and leave it at that. Frankly, you could ask anyone on the street to define those words and you’d likely come up with very similar answers. These aren’t words that have deep meaning, or can be interpreted in many different ways. But I have always felt that these three generally understood words, in all their simplicity, hold a level of complexity that is almost unparalleled in our world today. Because they can come to define us, good or bad, pending on what our situation is.
The first perspective I want to talk about is a child’s. Remember your hopes, dreams and plans as a kid? I do. I remember a lot of them clearly, and boy do they ever differ from where I’m at now. Hopes when I was a kid? Sure, I had them. I hoped I’d get hamburgers for supper. I hoped I wouldn’t get caught smoking my brother’s cigarettes. I hoped I wouldn’t get beat up or bullied at the bus transfer station in Leduc. I hoped my dad would come wake me before he left for work and would give me a big hug. Dreams? Yep. I dreamed of Disneyland – my dad had gone to Disneyland on a business trip once. I was about 4 or 5. He called me from there to tell me about it, and said he couldn’t wait to take me there. In the meantime, he brought me one of those ridiculous skullcaps with the Mickey Mouse ears and a huge stuffed Mickey Mouse. I wore the hat and held Mickey tight, dreaming of the day I could go to the Magic Kingdom! I dreamed of riding a motorcycle. I’d see my brother on his, daily, and just spent hours dreaming of having my own some day. Plans? Sure, I even had those as a child. What kind of plans does a child form? I talked to my mom about this. She said one of the best ways to describe me as a child was unstoppable, when it came to my planning. She said I would consider absolutely every option available to me, and it was as if you could witness a plan forming in my head as I asked questions, looked around and investigated alternatives. My mom said there was nothing that was out of reach for me, physically speaking. My parents could hide something as high up and as hidden as humanly possible, and I would build a plan – finding my way to the spot, pushing chairs into place to get up higher, sneaking my way into places I shouldn’t be, and eventually ending up with what I wanted. I think a good way to boil it down is to say as children we do make plans, we do consider successive steps, but they’re not very long-range plans. Or am I just speaking for myself?
The second perspective I wanted to have a look at is that of a young adult. Obviously, as we evolve as humans throughout our lives, how we build our plans, what we dream of, and what hopes we consider realistic change. They have to. I remember some of my hopes as a young adult. I hoped that I would, somehow, make my way through university. I had hopes of seeing my father healed of his cancer. I hoped that I wouldn’t get caught driving drunk. My dreams changed too. I dreamed of cars. I day-dreamed and I dreamed at night, constantly thinking of vehicles – supercars with crazy performance specs, trucks, go-karts, boats, you name it – I dreamed of owning them, driving them. I also dreamed of finding the perfect girl. This one I remember clearly, as I was in a long-term relationship that was slated to end in marriage, yet I always dreamed of finding the right one. I guess I just knew I hadn’t found her yet. And finally – those plans. Ah yes, those plans. I had built plans to get through university – I needed a plan, since I was travelling constantly and owned a bar at the same time. It was a recipe for disaster, to be honest, but with a plan, I did make it through and survived. But here is where I have to make an admission. My way of doing things, which was to always consider all the possibilities and then move forward with a solid plan, had taken a back seat. I had too much on my plate, and made impulsive decisions far too often during that turbulent time of my life. And interestingly, most of my memorable moments that I’d probably do differently a second time around are from that time. I don’t call them regrets, because all of them have contributed to who I am today. But I can clearly see how my life benefited from a plan at most times, and though I don’t regret them, how impulsive decisions have often had a less than desirable effect on my life.
Last, comes the parent‘s perspective on these three words. I have hopes and dreams for my own children. I hope that my children make the right decisions throughout life. I hope my children choose the right friends, and that they do the right thing, wherever they are and however difficult that may seem at the time. I hope my children abide by the Golden Rule and that they leave footprints behind that will allow others to respect them. I hope my children will always stand up for what is important to them and what they believe in. I hope that my children will always be healthy and happy and that they will have faith – whatever it might be in. I sure hope that, when the time comes, I can let my children go. I am a protective father, and although I do let my kids make their own decisions often and also make their own mistakes, I hope I have it in me to let my children go and do their own thing.
Dreams? Sure! I’ve got plenty of them as well. I dream of a time when I can open my front door, and crouch down and throw my arms open – to receive my grandchildren and to hold them tight. I dream of a time where my children are on their way – when they have flown the proverbial coop, and are spreading their wings. I dream of what they may become (as people, not in terms of their jobs, etc.) and I pray that I would support them in whatever they are in life. I dream of a time when I know my children are on their own, and I can focus on the next phase of my life with my partner and the things we will do then.
This brings me to my final point, in terms of these perspectives. As a parent, I have often been prone to falling into what can become a dangerous trap. It is a good thing to plan around your children, but I firmly believe it’s not a good idea to have plans FOR your children. We can get stuck in a rut that is a lifelong plan we have for our kids, and it can truly destroy our relationship with them – at every age, and phase of their lives. As a matter of fact, our plans for our children can even destroy them. Is your plan for your child to succeed at school? That plan can make you sit your kid down for intolerable amounts of homework at an age where kids should be allowed to play outside and figure out who they are. Is your plan for your kid to be the best at playing that particular instrument that you chose for them to play? You may just be forcing your child to music lessons that they will resent forever, and in turn, may end up resenting you for. Do you have a plan for your child to follow in your footsteps for their own career, Ms. Teacher or Mr. Doctor? Think about the effect of forcing something on your child that they never really wanted for themselves. Consider the impact of doing something they hate for the rest of their lives just to have pleased you and followed your plan. It’s easy to have plans for our children, but instead, I think we should plan for things we have been given the responsibility for. Yes, plan for their future – plan for how you’ll pay for their education, plan for their future health and physical fitness by encouraging them to move more and eat less, plan for their happiness by practicing what you preach and preaching the right thing.
There is one other thing I want to quickly examine. It is the lives of those children, young adults, and parents, that exist, at one point or another, absent of hopes, dreams or plans. I was taught to and have always tried to practice empathy and to think of those who were dealt circumstances less fortunate (in my opinion) than mine. What about those children who were orphaned in Haiti, and are being preyed on by rapists? What hopes can they muster? What dreams can those scarred babies’ hearts conjure up? What of those young adults who accidentally become parents? How can their best-laid plans to party it up for the next 3 years (and still make it through high-school) remain unscathed? Can their plans to save up their money from their part-time jobs to buy that first car continue? Adults can fit into this category too. What of the husband or wife that finds their spouse cheating on them? How well do you think the dreams and plans they had will hold up to that kind of pressure? What of the parents that have to bury a child of any age? Those hopes and dreams they had are ripped from them, to be replaced by a dark spot on their soul – the scar of a part of themselves that has died. There are countless things that can rob us of our hopes and dreams and that can force us to change our plans.
I want to conclude this by saying our hopes, dreams and plans remain our own. Whatever we’re exposed to, whatever we’re going through, this is true. Whatever the circumstances, whatever pain and sorrow, or happiness and relief we experience, let’s try to keep all those hopes alive, and reach for those dreams, as ridiculous as some of them may feel to us, and follow our plans to their conclusion. And let’s always remember to try to make a difference in the lives of those whose hopes and dreams seem shattered, for you and I can truly make a difference. Thanks for reading this! I’d love to hear about hopes, dreams and plans you’ve had, and how they’ve changed with age, been taken away from you, or otherwise evolved.
If you’ve enjoyed this, feel free to browse my archives tab for other posts.