Dreams Are Not Only for the Young

Rabbi Dr. Irwin Wiener, Spiritual Leader, Sun Lakes Jewish Congregation

Several years ago, I read a story about a man who owned a horse ranch and had agreed to let the house on his ranch be used for a benefit to assist the needy.

When he introduced the speaker, he told of his motive for allowing such a gathering to be held at his home. He related a story about a young man who was the son of an itinerant horse trainer who would go from stable to stable, racetrack to racetrack, farm to farm, and ranch to ranch, training horses. As a result, this boy’s high school career was continually interrupted. When he was a senior, he was asked to write a paper about what he wanted to be and do when he grew up.

That night this boy wrote many pages describing his goal of someday owning a horse ranch. He wrote about his dream in great detail and even drew a diagram of a 200-acre ranch, showing the location of all the buildings, the stables, and the track. He then drew a detailed floor plan of a 4,000-square foot house that would sit on the 200-acre dream ranch.

His heart and soul went into the project, and the day after he finished the project, he handed it in to his teacher. A few days later, he received his papers back. On the front page was a large “F” with a note that indicated the teacher wanted to meet with him after class.

The boy and his dream met the teacher after class and wondered why he received an “F.”

The teacher remarked that the dream, as detailed, was unrealistic, especially for a boy like him. He had no resources, came from an itinerant family, and owning a horse ranch requires a lot of money. Money is needed for land purchase, stockbreeding—on and on—I think you all get the picture. The teacher continued that there was no way someone like him could ever realize this dream and urged that he write something else that could be believed, and if this were done, the grade would be reconsidered.

The boy went home and thought long and hard and even asked his father for advice. His father suggested that this decision was his, as was his dream.

Finally, after sitting and pondering for a week or so, he turned in the same paper with no changes and told the teacher to keep his “F” and he would keep his dream. Needless to say, the teller of the story was that boy.

Life is about dreams. Can we, at this stage in our lives, still dream? What kind of dreams do older people have? Are dreams determined by age?

Well, the simple truth is that dreams are not just for the young. Dreams change with time, but humans continue to dream, because life, as we know it, is filled with dreams—good ones and bad ones.

Some of us dream about the future of our grandchildren. Some dream about survival—more than just escaping tragedies, but concentrating on quality of life as we survive to an age never dreamed possible by past generations.

Some dream about not being able to dream, because we can no longer remember what is behind us and frightened about what is ahead of us.

Some of us, at this time in our journey, are concerned about being a burden or not being willing to accept help when it is needed. Some are scared of losing independence. What is needed is to remember that life is a journey. A journey that sometimes takes us to the unknown that includes defeat as well as success. A journey that encompasses all that we have learned and the ability to take those lessons and apply them to our enjoyment of today. A journey that allows us to teach our children and their children the beauty of age—not the fear of it.

Perhaps it will help if we allow for dreams, because dreams are what life is made of. Dreams give us courage and determination. Dreams can and do become reality because of perseverance and a will to live.

And even at death, the dreams are not gone—they just become memories. So, dream on.