All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible. – T. E. Lawrence
While we were in Seattle a couple of weeks ago, we had a hundred great encounters with fellow booksellers who were incredibly encouraging and interesting and excited about life in the book business…and we had one very brief encounter (not more than 30 seconds total) with someone whom we didn’t even know who said, “Call me sometime and I’ll tell you why your idea will never work.”
Isn’t it something how a phrase like that can impact your whole day? There can be a dozen people who are encouraging, but just one person who is discouraging and suddenly that one person is all you can think about.
After the initial frustration wore off and we were able to think a bit more clearly about what this stranger said to us, we determined to use it for good and accept the inherent challenge of it. It also made us stop and consider more profoundly the value of those who encourage us as well as the value of those dreams that our family has dreamed in years past.
It’s interesting to ponder the idea that at one time or another everyone has dreams, everyone. Big dreams or small, ridiculous dreams or profound – they all have their purpose and they all become a part of the story. I look around at life in my early forties and think, “Yes, dreams come true.” Sometimes they’re big and sometimes they’re small, but they do come true. Sometimes they even come true in ways that we had not originally dreamed them, and sometimes they are much grander than we had ever hoped against hope that they would be.
The great Shel Silverstein, in his opening poem to the magical Where the Sidewalk Ends (1974), wrote “If you are a dreamer, come in…a hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer….come in!”
So why will your idea never work? It is as good a question as I have ever been asked. For when I can answer it more clearly, I can dream better…”with open eyes.”