“Our human compassion binds us the one to the other – not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future.” – Nelson Mandela
After the year we’ve had, who wants to bother dreaming? Who wants to take the time to make goals, to set intentions, New Year’s Resolutions, or cast a vision? Who wants to take the risk of hope?
It can feel too exhausting. We want to just sit back and let this new year wash over us, slowly, simply, and with as little eventfulness as possible. Just let 2020 die, we’re collectively thinking. Who cares what 2021 brings, as long as it’s not this?
But taking time to hope is not just about goal-setting or productivity. Hope is an essential balm for the grieving heart, hope is a buoy for a sinking spirit, hope is an act of daring, reckless, powerful courage. Hope is what we all need. Hope is what you need. Hope can be difficult, in times like this, but hope is one of the most essential needs for life.
Years ago, we published a blog post called ‘Dreams and a Paper Bag.” I can’t seem to find that blog on our site any more — I’m not sure what happened technically there, but it’s faded away. I want to reshare that post here. It was a guest post by our son, Thomas Walters, on a New Years exercise he and his wife did back in 2012. It’s a beautiful example of hope; dreaming of a better life, after all, takes all the fortitude of hope, and that’s the fortitude we need right now.
I want to encourage you to find hope this holiday season. Allow yourself to hope. Push yourself to hope. It might feel foolish, or silly, or even risky, but the truth is, hope is truly an act of strength. You have that strength — I know you do. Use that strength to hope, and let’s all come together for a better 2021.
Dreams & a Paper Bag
by Thomas Walters, January 2013: A couple weeks ago, as we pondered the approaching new year, my wife and I sat down on a couch and decided to let ourselves dream. She’s been working on a book for several years and I’ve been itching to write and sing more. This got us talking about what we want our lives to look like — our dream world! We [couldn’t find any paper, so we improvised: we] grabbed a paper grocery bag and a sharpie, and decided to let it all out, every little and big dream, uncensored. She inked the words “Dreams, Hopes, and Desires For The Picture Of Our Life in 2013 and Beyond…” around the border, and this is what happened…
As you can see, no dream was too big or too small to be included. Our professional and spiritual goals were included right along with the desire to eat more French food. Now, I know there are times to dig in and push through with what you have at hand. But there are also times to reflect on the state of your life and dream about how you’d like to see it grow into your ideal. And a new year is the perfect time to dream.
Now keep in mind [during this exercise], this is not the time to worry about things like practicality or how these dreams will be brought into your life in the coming months and years. This is simply the time to get by yourself or join those whom you share life most closely with and let your deepest desires dance with your imagination to see what life could be for you. Specifics help you really get at what you want, so try to include those as much as possible. For example, don’t say “play basketball more”; say “Play basketball 2-3 times a week.”
Don’t be afraid. Don’t hold back. You get to choose thousands of things everyday, millions every year. You don’t often get a say in where you start in many areas of life, but you do get a say in where you will go, what you will do and whom you will become. I know we don’t have all the choices; some are in other peoples’ or forces’ hands. But we do have quite a few, and we get to co-write the book that will become our life.
Envisioning that story is the first step to making it your reality. So I encourage you to dream about where you want your story to go. Imagine who and what you want to fill it. Then make prayers and plans to usher these dreams into your reality and see what good comes your way.