A Dream Deferred

I am certainly no Langston Hughes, nor do I presume to offer commentary on his great work. Yet, the title, A Dream Deferred, seemed to fit my thought process for this post. (ref. Langston Hughes “Harlem” 1951) After several conversations with my peers and young people around me, it would appear that the events of our society has put many dreams on hold. People are waiting for the Pandemic to end, for things to get back to normal, for bipartisan politics to take place, for their finances to improve, for a conducive opportunity, and a number of other things. Thus, the dreams are deferred, (postponed, put off for a later time) but for how long?

Can we really afford to put off our hopes and dreams and wait for a better time or season? If COVID 19 has taught me anything, it is not to count the days too far in advance. January 2020 was the beginning of a new year with promises to be better than the year before. We all were marching through the days taking so much for granted, and then March changed everything. No longer could we take our elderly family members for granted, not longer could we take our jobs and income for granted, no longer could we take our health or our friends for granted. Nothing was concrete, everything was elusive. The things we put off until spring, or until a more perfect opportune time never happened, mostly because we were in a “wait and see mode.” Here we are, more than a year later still waiting to see what’s going to happen next.

Don’t get me wrong, I too have some deferred dreams. The books I had hoped would be ready for publication are still on the shelf of my soul. It has not been easy to continue writing under the haze of grief and despair. Even blogging has been a challenge. Yet, those of us who could muster up the courage continued to press on. I am amazed at how many new businesses were launch during this time. I’m in awe of the people who decided that this was the time to achieve their goals in art, music, or literature. These people found hope in the midst of peculiar circumstances. They didn’t give up. They didn’t postpone. They met the challenge head on. They decided that now was as good of a time as any. One person declared, “If COVID takes me out, at least I will have given it my best shot!”

There’s a scripture that says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” (Proverbs 13:12 ESV; some people believe this was Langston Hughes muse) Without a dream or hope, we can become depressed and sick in heart and mind. Mental health disorders have been unmasked during this time of social distancing and sheltering-in. The news stories about new strains of the virus scare us. No one wants to return to wearing masks and distancing ourselves from love ones, but we have a say in how we will respond to the various messages of the airways. We can decide to seek out relationships, to achieve our goals, to be proactive in mental and emotional healing, and to work toward achieving our occupational and or vocational desires. We can be like those entrepreneurs who launched their dreams into reality and experienced life at a new level. We have the ability to change our immediate circumstances by allowing hope to come to the surface of our thoughts and acting on it.

In the last two months, I have been writing more. To my surprise, the more I write, the more I want to write. I started dreaming poems and stories again. I hope to bring two new works to publication this summer. Will I? I don’t know, but I do know I will be giving it everything I’ve got. Writing is a part of who I am. When I defer writing, I am putting my entire being on hold. That is not mentally or emotionally healthy for me. Are you postponing living? Are you putting off being your true authentic self? Have you put yourself (your hopes, goals and dreams) on hold?

For years I have been trying to get my mom to go to the salon with me for a pedicure, manicure, and a facial. For years I have heard her say she wished to have a professional arch her eyebrows and shape her nails, but she would never go. I finally got her to go to the salon on my birthday. She reluctantly got a pedicure with reflexology. Afterwards, she was so elated. She described her experience to me with a big smile on her face. She regretted not doing it before and pledged to go again and get the works. My mom is 89 years old and this was her very first trip to the salon. I tell you this story because your dream deferred doesn’t have to be a big thing. It can be a small thing, a typical thing, a thing that seems ordinary to others, but for you it is a desire that needs to be fulfilled. It can be the thing that makes your “tree of life” grow. It can be the thing that brings you satisfaction and perhaps joy as well.

Are your dreams deferred? Why? Do you have the ability within you or your scope of influence to change it? Is there someone in your life who can help you do whatever needs to be done to get there? I encourage you not to put off for a day which you have yet to see the things you can do today. That’s like trying to spend money you do not have. Cease the day!

I wish you health, wholeness, and joy as you strive to achieve your dreams.

From the publication of his first book in 1926, Langston Hughes was hailed as the poet laureate. This volume is a treasure-an essential collection of the work of a poet whose words have entered our common language. Amazon.com

Delayed Gratification Has its Advantages

We have come to expect so many things to come quickly, almost instantly, so delayed gratification doesn’t sound very appealing. Yet, some things are worth waiting for. Like when my mom makes a crushed pineapple bread pudding, it’s worth the wait. Sure I could go to the local grocery store and purchase something engrossed in plastic and start eating it as soon as I get in the house, but it couldn’t hold a candle to my mother’s homemade dessert.

There’s something to be said for those things that take time to earn, to win, to create, or experience – things like earning a college degree, planning your wedding, earning the respect of your colleagues for your accomplishments, completing your first novel, having a baby, buying your first house or renting your first apartment. There are so many more things in life that require time to accomplish and appreciate. Not to mention becoming the best you, you can be. It takes time to discover who you want to be.

The reasons for delayed gratification vary, but they become important milestones – milestones that define the seasons of our lives. Whether we want to admit it or not, there are some things we just wouldn’t be able to handle if they arrived instantly. If we are in our season of immaturity, we may not be able to sustain or maintain the goal, accomplishment, or achievement intellectually or financially. If things come too quickly or without any effort, we may not be in a season to appreciate its value. After all, if it’s really worth a lot, why did it come so easily we may think, and of course the answer to that question comes after we loose it.

Those of us who have reached a certain level of maturity need to explain to the younger crowd the advantages of delayed gratification. Some of them are under great stress because they are trying to accomplish in a year or two what took their parents 10, 15, 20 years to accomplish. In this age of technology it may not take that long, but milestones still take time. Stability takes time. Quality takes time. Longevity takes time. These are the advantages of delayed gratification. My grandmother used to say, “Anything worth having should be worth keeping!” That takes us right back to maintaining and sustaining, and don’t we want to maintain good relationships, great occupations, excellent reputations, lasting legacies. I certainly do!

Delayed gratification gives me something to look forward such as: date night, my next book, fellowship with friends and family. It gives me purpose, the drive to go for the goal. It’s how I set my priorities for my work schedule, my personal investments, and bucket filling (refer to previous blogs). It’s how I plan for both short term and long term goals like writing, traveling, and self-care. It’s an accepted way of life, because even those things that seem instant really aren’t. (Just asked all those designers who make Google work for us!)

Well, I have to leave this thought with you because I’m about to leave for a date that I’ve been waiting for all week. The delay for that is over! What’s on your delayed gratification list? What was or is the advantage of waiting? Come share, we’re waiting!

Achieve Breakthrough Using Delayed Gratification by [Master Resale Rights]
a Kindle book available at Amazon.com
In order to receive the most possible gratification from something we must first learn to hold off on instant rewards. This may seem like a hard task to accomplish for many people. With a little practice and the use of these helpful steps, waiting for the big prize will become a walk in the park.