Saturday, December 26, 2009


Dreams can be those things you have in your sleep, or they can be hopes for the future. Either way, they are works of imagination.

When folk write that man cannot live by bread alone, dreams for the future are one of those other things people need. To be entrusted with someone’s dreams is an act of profound trust, because of the capacity to enrich, or to devastate, their life that such trust means.

To help fulfil someone’s dreams can be a deeply binding thing. Just as tainting, frustrating or destroying their dreams can be a bitter, hateful and hating thing; for so much of what a person is, and hopes to be, can be wrapped in their dreams. How much of the bitterness of divorce comes from broken dreams? A lot, I suspect.

Not least because of the deep sense in which having one’s entrusted dreams devastated undermines any confidence in one’s own judgement. Those who habitually pretend (above all to themselves) to be something they are not can thereby be doubly devastating in breaking dreams and self-confidence: so are they serial killers of the soul.

It can be very hard to live a life of broken dreams. Too hard for some. Many a suicide is the fatal result of broken dreams, of not being able to face living a life of broken dreams. Or a life of dreams not allowed. The elevated risks of suicide among children whose parents reject their sexuality is surely deeply connected to the pain of dreams disallowed: though the sense of one’s parents rejecting one’s identity is no doubt even more important. But identity and dreams are hardly entirely separable in such matters. Indeed, that so much of one’s sense of self can be invested in one’s dreams does so much to give them power.

It can be surprisingly easy to break someone’s dreams. You do not always know what inner woundings those dreams cover, or seek to heal.

To face having broken someone’s dreams can be a hard thing. One of the reasons folk often cannot deal with what they have done: not only did they not understand, they cannot face the understanding. Which, of course, means that finding the strength and moral decency to face what you have done, and then act to try and heal the damage, is so commendable.

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