Friday, August 3, 2007

Dreams

Last night I heard a speaker tell the story of a man-a very wealthy man by any standard. This man has an enormous, beautiful home on the outskirts of Rome. In this lavish home he has a room-a special room. That room houses his collection-of art, literature and music.

This collection, though, is different from the typical collection of a wealthy art fan. You see, he doesn't frequent the auction houses, bidding against other wealthy patrons in an effort to acquire highly sought after, well-renowned pieces. He doesn't send art agents traipsing about the country in search of that one "hot" item. In fact, not a single piece in this collection will ever make its way-on loan or otherwise-into an exhibit at a gallery or museum.

No, the collection isn't a collection of work by his children. Nor is it some amatuer collection that is special to only this gentleman. Every piece in the collection is by a master-pieces by Renoir and Van Gogh. Writings by Shakespeare. Musical compositions by Chopin and Beethoven.

But if, for some reason, you were fortunate enough to be invited to see the rarely-seen collection, you'd be ushered into this home, down a long hallway, to a locked door that opens to a dark, windowless room. And as the gentleman inserts the key into the door to unlock it, you'd happen to glance up, and as the door creaked open, you'd see a sign mounted above the door-a sign that says "Chamber of Unfinished Dreams."

You see, each of these pieces are unique in that not a single one is complete. As that door creaked open, and light leaked in, you'd see slabs of granite-perhaps with a hand and forearm sticking oddly from the side. You'd see canvases-half painted, faces of figures without feature. You'd see musical compositions-without a final movement. Poems without the last few stanzas. Unfinished dreams.

And I realized as the speaker told the story that, somewhere inside, we each have a similar chamber. And last night, as I listened to the speaker, I hesitantly walked down that long hall, and unlocked that door, and opened it-the door to that room that I so dread looking into. Because the contents of that room represent the dreams and hopes that, over the years, I've cast off as hopelessly damaged. Dreams of business ownership-dashed due to naive business decisions. Dreams of literary greatness-discarded due to criticism from others. Dreams of financial success; of personal development and career advancement; and others-dreams that nobody even knows about, that I've ultimately cast off as hopeless. Some of them are small. Some are huge. And I stand in that room, and as my gaze passes slowly over each one, I remember that swelling, the hope, the inspiration when each of those dreams were birthed. And then I remember the painful bitterness of awakening to the realization that that I'd damaged that dream-that it could never be. And I remember the long walk to that room, opening the door, and moving things aside-making room for yet another addition to this, my own "Chamber of Unfinished Dreams."

And as I stand there in that room, and remember each of those painful visits, I realize that the room is far more cluttered now that it used to be. You see, over time, I've continued to dash dreams, and the shelves are starting to fill, and the corners are stacked with piles of once precious hopes.

And I think about others that I know. People who, over time, have added to their own chamber, time after time, as we all do. Until the chamber was so full, that they had to remodel the home that is their heart-removing walls, and pushing furniture aside, so that there was room enough in the chamber for the new additions. Until, at some point, they wake to find that their entire existence is defined by that chamber. They spend their days and nights in one small bare corner of their heart, with an entire house full of unfinished dreams. And as they sit there in that corner, that look out over the vast sea of broken, damaged hopes and dreams, and cry over them.

And then I come back to the present, and look around this-my chamber-again, and realize that there are things missing. I remember trips that I'd made to this room to make another painful deposit, and realize that those unfinished dreams aren't there anymore. Like a particulalry cherished dream of personal success in the corporate world-that I'd sat sadly there on a shelf five years ago. And then I remember another trip down that hall-and on that trip, instead of making a deposit, I dug through the clutter, and pulled out that old dream, dusted it off, and got to work on it again. And now, I rush out of the chamber, and begin to walk through the rest of the house, looking at all those revived pieces-the once damaged, hopeless dreams, that I've dusted off, and started working on again. And then I look up at the walls, and see some of the finished pieces-some of them that had once sat on those same shelves, but now rest in places of prominence. Pieces that I proudly show off to friends and acquaintances. And nobody but me knows that the finished product isn't exactly what it was originally intended to be. Because the finished work is still beautiful!

And so, with that, I go back to that dreaded door, but this time with a spring in my step. I open it, and turn the light on. And begin to take inventory, dusting off each and every one of those dreams. And I make a commitment to, starting today, one by one, take those damaged works off the shelf, and renew my work on them!

I urge you, take the same trip. The creator is usually the only one who can see the flaws in a work of love. Pull out one of those dreams that you casted off so long ago. Dust it off, put it back up on the easel. And give it your all. I guarantee you that, when you're done, it'll occupy a place of honor in your gallery of accomplishments!

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow! What an inspiring post! As I read it, I looked at my own life and there aren't too many things that I have left unacomplished, but there are those few things that I dream of doing someday and at times I look at them and doubt myself, wondering why/how I ever thought I could accomplish such things. Then, reading your post, I realized, I am still young and I have my whole life to prove to myself and those around me that I CAN do something great! The key is taking it one step/project at a time and never loosing the passion that it began with! Thanks for the reminder!

Shane said...

Hey man - VERY NICE blog! But knowing you for over 20 years such a great effort is to be expected of you. I would like a tour of the room across the hall. ("The Chamber of Finished Dreams") It probably needs to be remodled as well. I would bet that it is twice the square footage of the other!

Its great that a person would often visit "The Chamber of Unfinished Dreams" to re-kindle a lost goal but I think that some people can spend to much time in that room - especially with-out windows - time is almost unaccounted for. Imagine getting cought up in "If I could have..." or "I should have..." How many dreams are you willing to put on hold? Man I just turned 27! I don't know how you feel but I'm starting to get a sense of urgency here! Those old farts were right - life is short! Spend more time in the room across the hall (The one WITH windows!) where you can enjoy the accomplishments that you worked hard to achieve. It has a much brighter view and its alot less depressing. And spend that time in there with Shawna, Lex and Gentry. I also believe that the majority of the "Finished Dreams", are more often then not, coveted by loved ones closest to you who shared in their completion. Like your Wife & Kids, Father, Mother or Brother In-Law. Well, maybe not your Brother In-Law.

Anyways I just wanted to let you know your doing a GREAT JOB and keep it up! I enjoy it alot and will return often!

PJ said...

Wow!

Thank you for the kind words Shane! I'm humbled-I'll be quite honest with you! I think that you must have your rose colored glasses on with respect to my "room across the hall," but I'll not make you take them off!

That said, very well-stated; time is short! I realize it more and more each day, and I DO feel the urgency!

And for the record, Brother-in-Law DEFINITELY needs to be included in that group!

Thank you man! The sentiments mean more than you know!

Thanks for reading! Come back again!

Anonymous said...

Quote "literary greatness-discarded due to criticism from others"

Forget em man you got the talent, go for it! I have read hundreds of books over the years, and I have to say... I can get bored real easy. You haven't bored me yet...

Write on.....