What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore –
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over –
Like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
Like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
– Langston Hughes
My sophomore year of high school we read the play “A Raisin in the Sun” by Lorraine Hansberry, inspired by the above poem (which we, naturally, also analyzed). For a group of white, middle-class, Jewish teenagers, it was difficult to understand the many layers of meaning in both the poem and the play.
I remember many of us were confused about what this can do to a person. At that point in our lives I don’t think anyone had been in a situation where we needed to choose one path over another; up to that point (and for another three years after it) our paths were pretty much predetermined. I doubt any of us had really pushed off a dream because it was, at the time, unattainable. Few of us really understood the message.
Now, it comes easy. I guess time is the true teacher, and experience the provider of meaning.
After the second interview I really tried not to think about what had happened. But of course, I had to provide updates to those who knew about the saga. So I kind of became anti-social just so I wouldn’t have to deal with it. And when I was social I didn’t really behave properly.
Hence, the apology at the beginning of my previous post.
To choose one dream over another is not something that I wish on anyone. How can someone consciously say that dream “A” is better/more important than dream “B”? And, what happens to the dreams that are pushed off? Will they ever come back? Langston Hughes didn’t address that question in his poem – he just spoke about the physical qualities of the dream itself. What the dream manifests as if it is postponed.
He didn’t discuss the mental anguish of deferring a dream. He didn’t talk about the human agony of making that decision.
My dream did all of the things Langston Hughes listed in his poem – it dried up, it festered, it sagged, it exploded. Sometimes all in one day.
A question that I repeatedly asked myself this past month, often with nascent tears in my eyes, was how can I choose between two dreams that provide me with joy, and happiness, and a sense of fulfillment?
On the one hand, taking this job would mean that my career is set. I will have achieved the pinnacle of my goals and I would have legitimate job security for a good decade.
On the other hand, taking this job would mean that I would need to quit school. I would need to push off any other children that I may want to have. My job would always come first, which means that Hubby’s would suffer. Hubby would need to pull more weight around the house too
But, if I didn’t take this job – I could still have kids. Hubby and I would continue to share the housework, not to mention see each other on a fairly regular basis. And I could continue my degree, which means exposing myself to other people and opportunities in the music/theater world. The other day, while I was giving a presentation, I was complimented on my knowledge of the topic, my delivery and presence by Ronit Seter – which, for those of you not in the musical world, is like Sammy Sosa complimenting you on your batting follow-through.
But, on the other hand, if I didn’t take the job who knows when the next opportunity would arise? I was told during the interviews that there isn’t a lot of turnover in this field, because people tend to stick around for a long time. Five years is a generous minimum time commitment. Would other positions at the Tel Aviv Opera House (or other Performing Art Centers) have similar requirements and commitments?
All these questions and emotions are moot, though. Because I still haven’t heard back from them.
I have resigned myself to the belief that, right now, this job is not meant for me. And I am okay with that. I contacted the Opera House in the past when something came my way; each time, I pushed myself further and took additional steps to making the phone call, and applying for the job, and getting the interview.
I still stand by what I said previously – maybe I just needed to know what my dream entailed, so I could make a wiser decision if and when presented with this opportunity in the future.
I still believe, that sometimes we are presented with different choices and opportunities, and it’s up to us to decide to pursue it. But, sometimes those opportunities and choices appear when we aren’t ready for it. We’re either too young, or too old; too religious, or too secular; employed, or unemployed; single or married; with kids or without kids. Occasionally, we don’t even realize the opportunity when it’s staring us right in the face. Only with hindsight, when it is too late to decide anything.
I still believe, that I will recognize similar opportunities when they present themselves to me. And that I will continue to seek out these opportunities because they are important to me.
So I still believe, regardless of the state of life we find ourselves in, that following dreams requires faith, and guts, and determination, and support, and a little bit of crazy. Very rarely do dream opportunities present themselves at opportune times.
But I will hold on to this dream, because it keeps coming back.
And dreams do not have expiration dates.