I read the sign again: “Free Dreams! Absolutely no charge. Free Dreams!”
Inside the small shop a man looked out over his counter and saw me laughing. He smiled and waved me inside. I figured “what the heck” why not? I went inside the small shop to see what he had to say.
What happened next was no dream.
“I will take seven big dreams, two little dreams, and a wish…to go, please.”
I laughed at my own wit. The guy behind the counter gave a quick laugh back.
“So that his how you think it works.”
I was stunned. What did he mean?
“You think dreams are a joke, and you can separate them into big and small, and closet them in a different category than a wish?”
Who the heck was he to challenge me on what I thought. I came into his shop because he waved me in. I was mad and embarrassed.
“No. I just saw your cute little sign : “Free Dreams.” It made me laugh. I did’t come in here to be ridiculed by you.“
His eyes never left mine, nor did his smile fade. My words (dripping with venom and ire) didn’t dent his demeanor at all. He remained pleasant, friendly, but brutally honest without malice.
“All dreams are free. Big. Small. Hidden. It doesn’t matter, they are all free. Always have been, always will. It is the price you have to pay to make a dream real, that is where the cost is too high for most folks.“
“What are you? Some kind of motivational speaker? Are you trying to sell me a dream?”
“Dreams, young man, are free. Always have been. Always will be. What I am trying to sell you - is yourself.”
Okay, this was getting weird. My anger was almost all gone. It had been replaced by bewildered curiosity. This must be what it is like to talk to one of the Monks on a Mountain Top- where every word is laden with import, but you can’t figure out what he means.
“Sell me myself?”
He shook his head. The smile twinkling a bit brighter.
“No. Sell you on yourself. You have the power to make your dreams come true. All it takes is a whole lot of work. As they say in Galaxy Quest: “Never give up. Never surrender.” Your Dreams are free. Always have been. Always will be. No dream too big, no dream too small. They all can come true. If…you work your ass off.“
“I work hard. I work every day. I am too tired when I come home to chase a dream.“
“Why are you working so hard if it doesn’t bring you closer to your dreams?"
I didn’t know what to say. He was making it sound so simple. Like I could just choose to work hard- and all my dreams would come true. I thought about his question for a bit.
“Because I have to pay the bills. I have to live.”
“Ah…but you aren’t living. You are merely existing. What bills? Crap you don’t need but just want? Things you dreamed of having but instead they locked you into needing a job?”
I was flabbergasted now. I knew what he meant. I had Cable, the Internet, the latest Smartphone, a car payment bigger than my first check at my job, rent, Netflix, and a hundred apps that I only used once. I guess I could streamline a bit.
“Look, I work hard to keep that stuff. I need it for work, and in case you haven’t noticed, the world is changing out there- It is all about instant feedback, fame, and Social Media. You have to stay fresh, or you will be forgotten.”
The man smiled at me again. I was beginning to think he had heard my line of reasoning before, and was immune to any words implying that my situation was caused by anything other than me. He went on:
“Young man, you use your phone to send hundreds of texts…not one of them in any particular path to fulfilling a dream. You spend hours watching cat videos, playing Candy Crunch, and bemoaning the fact that you didn’t do anything that day. You are proud of your score in MMO games- and you spend hours playing them. But you don’t do any work. You could turn your MMO into a professional career. You could turn your Social Media outlet into a career. You could turn even Fame into a career. But you have to do the work. Dreams are free. The price is working your ass off.“
I didn’t know what to say. I tried to bring up a few examples of Internet Personalities that spend their day doing nothing. Their dreams came true!
His smile grew wider.
“Really? Name one “Social Media star” that doesn’t tweet several times a day, build and release video clips of all kinds, travel to meet their fans, expose themselves to more and more people, work with other Media Stars on projects to test the waters. The Fat Jew, Paris Hilton, Miranda…spend a day with any of them and you will be exhausted. Because they work their asses off to chase their dreams.
People find ways to make their dreams come true- and the Internet gives them creative ways to make their dreams come true; Ever seen those "reaction videos" where folks who wouldn't normally listen to a particular genre or era of music, musicians, or singers - film themselves watching an Artist for the first time? Those folks have found a way to explore different styles of music, and get other folks to take a look at them too. They all have Patreon Pages- and have made their career out of sharing and expanding musical influences.
But they learn to use the computer better, add blogs through WordPress, links to YouTube, and their Twitter accounts too- they are all doing the "work", along with listening to thousands of Artists. Just following their dreams, with hard work.
They know the next new thing is coming. So they push themselves to find it first. Or to link with the next new thing in their own way. They got opportunities by simply outworking the folks who only dream of making dreams come true. Some people get so much pleasure from chasing a dream, that they never care if they reach it or not. For them, the Journey is much more fun. Other folks need their dream to be their goal.
But those dreams have to end. Because they do reach their goals. Then they have to set new ones. Some folks can walk away from a dream goal after it is done. Walk away on top. It is rare, but it can be done. Other folks have to keep finding dreams to motivate them. That is so easy to do, because…”
I interrupted him with a laugh:
“I know. I know. Dreams are free.”
He winked at me.
Everyone dreams about having the good life, lots of material things: big house, fancy car, pretty things. Those dreams don’t have any punch to them. Ah…but dreaming about being a better person, good at your craft, or helping others reach their dreams…that can be done. But only with hard work.
There are thousands of rags to riches stories. You know why? They worked their asses off. Ask any SuperStar if they ever waited tables, worked construction, or delivered pizzas, or worked as a Temp. None of them started with any real advantage, except one, they tied their dreams to the twin yokes of hard work and goals.
The Rock had seven bucks in his pocket when he quit football. Sylvester Stallone was down to eating just oranges because he couldn’t afford much food before he made Rocky. Madonna, Lady GaGa, Michael Jackson, Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman, the list is endless of people who dreamt for free, but paid the price in hard work to get that dream to become reality.
A small town preacher changed the laws of an entire country by chasing a dream, and his “I have a dream speech” is as needed and necessary as it was when he first gave it. People are working their asses off to make sure that dream doesn’t fade away.
Not all dreams change the course of World History, or make someone a Silicone Valley Billionaire. Some dreams are more humble but just as hard to make real…like being a good Mom, a wonderful husband, or wife, a father, friend or boss. People work hard to make those dreams come true too.
Moms work their asses off to be a good mother. Dad’s work their asses off to be good Dads. No matter what the dream is, to reach it, you have to work at it.“
I shook his hand. I went outside and looked at the sign again.
“Free Dreams. Absolutely no charge. Free Dreams!"
He was right. I left that shop filled with dreams. As I walked away I let all of them go except the ones I thought were worthy of hard work. I narrowed my free dreams down to just three…now I have to pay for them- with hard work.
Dreams are free. Always have been. Always will be.