“I have dreamt in my life, dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas; they have gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the color of my mind. And this is one: I’m going to tell it – but take care not to smile at any part of it.”
― Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights
During various readings, I have come across some interesting study on suicidal actions based on economic circumstances. Various studies have shown that a wide range of people by gender and race have 50% higher rate of suicide if making less than $35,000 a year and the same set of peoples by gender and race who make over $105,000 a year have a 10% higher rate than the lower income group. Why? I took a while to think on this, and I believe that it is quite simple.
Dreams propel us. Knowing that there is something out there to obtain or a goal to reach is a driving force that keeps us reaching for that brass ring. We make bucket lists. We lie in bed and imagine a coming event(s) in our life. We make plans for retirement. We joke about spoiling grandchildren one day. The darkness of having a bleak, or the thought of having no future at all, is hard for many to see past, as with those who cannot rise above a heavy economic strain. In a strange way, it may also serve an even darker purpose when you have money for anything you want and have no dream to propel your existence. As in the first chapter of The Great Gatsby, Daisy Buchanan, who is wealthy beyond comprehension, whines about her and her child’s life: “I hope she’ll be a fool–that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool… You see, I think everything’s terrible anyhow . . . And I know. I’ve been everywhere and seen everything and done everything.” What’s her purpose for rising in the morning?
I love teaching on the works of F. Scott Fitzgerald, as many of you know. The Great Gatsby is a cornerstone of fine writing and easily a top 10 (top five with me) American classic of all time. Although the novel operates on multiple levels, the idea of dreaming is a primary key. Gatsby is fueled by his dreams, as when he is introduced in the novel by Nick, when Gatsby is standing on the end of his dock stretching his arms toward a mysterious green light. Nick has dreams also, when he moved from the moral mid-west, to the east coast, only to find a”foul dust floated in the wake of [Gatsby”s] dreams that temporarily closed out my interest in the abortive sorrows and short-winded elations of men.” And it isn’t long before Nick sees the purgatory of this “dreamy” world when he enters the Valley of Ashes: a place of bland, grey dust that covers everything and everyone; where there are tiny trails through the powder that leads to and from work and where “occasionally a line of gray cars crawls along an invisible track, gives out a ghastly creak, and comes to rest, and immediately the ash-gray men swarm up with leaden spades and stir up an impenetrable cloud, which screens their obscure operations from your sight.” No joy. No dreams. It is at the end of the story where Nick sees the human quest for dreams: “Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter – tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther . . . And one fine morning–” It is innate in all human beings to stretch and reach.
Yes, I have a bucket list on my blog. I dream, maybe more than others. I’m not rich by any means; a career in education is not the path to take for that. Yes, I have been blessed with a gloriously wonderful family and have things. But not all of my dreams include getting more things. I am excited about spending the rest of my life with my true love and prove that I am worthy of such a woman. I am ecstatic to see what’s in store for my son and daughter. I will one day hopefully ride a bicycle on the misty hills of Scotland, pedal through the heavily scented vineyards of France, through the old country of England, and deeply breathe the salty wind as I journey down the narrow roads of the Amalfi coast in Italy. Each one of these dreams, and there are more, will happen one fine day.
This all began with something written by Emily Bronte. It is in this quote that lies the answer to all of those who cannot see the light. Hold tightly to what you dream. Don’t allow others to poke or dismantle them, even yourself. Purse them. Hard.