personal reflection & growth
" Dreams are Our Friends "
by: Edward Naughton, Founder, CEO
The nature of dreams and my own personal experience of dreams have not only been items of interest for me but also insights into self-awareness and the place of the unconscious in our lives. I believe in the saying, “All dreams are for health and healing” and that paying attention to our dreams can be significant for us. Having been a participant in dream sharing groups for several years I saw the value not only in writing one’s dreams but also in “unpacking” dreams with others.
In such sharing we did not assume to interpret each others’ dreams but rather through invitation asked clarifying
questions or suggested, “If it was my dream, this is what it could mean for me.”
In such a way the individual would be able to reach that point of “Aha, that’s what it could mean,” and be able to
reflect more on the dream and its meaning.
Having been encouraged in my life “to follow your dreams” I was inclined as a lecturer to encourage students to pay
attention to their dreams and see them as hints or aids as they sorted through life’s mysteries. A particularly bright and creative young student who had gone on to Law school after college graduation came to visit me after several years had passed. I had assumed that he was following a successful legal career until he appeared at my door and I was surprised
by his appearance. Though he expressed the same brightness and thoughtfulness of the past he was dressed surprisingly
in clothing not seen in boardrooms or attorney’s offices. I was curious and asked what he had been doing over the years
and was surprised by the answer, “I am working as a crab fisherman in Chesapeake Bay. I found myself in Law school and after a while started wondering what I was doing there. I didn’t want to be a trial lawyer, or legal consultant, or any of the other positions of the profession and I remembered your encouraging us to “follow your dreams.”
I quickly began questioning my earlier advice but as we talked about his life, work and relationships I saw the same
happy bright young man. He was fulfilled in his own way and there was a joy is his remark,
“I had always dreamed about being a crab fisherman and I am at home.”
I suppose it’s risky to follow one’s dreams and I believe it is important to consult with others in making life’s choices but
I also see the frustration and emptiness of people who have put their dreams on the shelf because of practical concerns and still yearn to recapture the inspiration and energy of those earlier dream experiences. It is exciting to meet accomplished individuals who find the inspiration and courage to recapture the enthusiasm of their earlier years and their dreams.
I think of the Medical Doctor who now seems driven, if he has a chance, to return to the spirited place of his youth when
as a young man, moved by his own faith and his concern for others, he gave thought to becoming a missionary in foreign lands. Because of circumstances that dream turned into a desire to serve the elderly in the area where he lived to provide
not only personal care but also medical attention. He dreamed of being able to touch the lives of those most needing care, the invalid, the chronically ill struggling in the later years of life.
With this determination he completed his college courses, medical school and the ensuing years of internship and hospital residency. He was a practicing physician! On he went through the early years of practice establishing himself in hospital settings and private practice finding his life and work gratifying in that he was helping people while personally fulfilled with work and family life. But he had moved away from his roots and his early dreams and was now building a career as a successful physician with a growing business. Investing time, energy and finance he eventually had built a practice which incorporated three other physicians, Nurse Practitioners, Nurses, allied medical help and clerical assistants.
The result was a multi-million dollar generating medical business with potential ongoing development.
Was this the dream? Is this the accomplishment that he had generously contemplated as a young man? Such were his thoughts particularly as he realized that running a business is an expensive operation. Associates reimbursements, employee’s salaries, office costs and a turbulent economy can wreak havoc on any enterprise. Was it time to take stock, review his life and hearken back to the creative inspiring hopes of a young man? It was time to take the dream off the shelf and live David Thoreau’s Walden declaration, “I wished to live deliberatively to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
Our doctor rediscovers his mission, not as a minister in a foreign environment, but as one who responds in new ways to the elders he always thought about and cared for but now with deeper meaning. Rediscovering his dream has brought him new energy and insights. Dedicating his experience and medical skill to meet specific needs of the elderly and chronically ill he has uncovered creative ways and methods in elder care and finds his dream come true in giving life to others.
“Follow your dreams” need not be just a youthful axiom, a recurring interior desire but rather a constant reminder that we are, in our depths, more than we know in our consciously chosen lives. The courage to be true to our deepest selves, our inner truths, is both a gift and a challenge that is recovered time and time again if we dare “follow our dreams.”
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