Dreams Go By: The Wake Up Call at 35,000 feet

Music has been a soundtrack of my life and I’m sure for you as well. Songs that have framed a time in my life, never fail to bring a smile to my face. The music takes me back to the emotions and feelings of that time and place. It never fails. At any time on a random selection playlist I can be transported back to any  time of my life, I could be sitting on a surfboard on a cold wintry day; I could be that nervous young kid again, in love with the girl next door; preparing for a major football game ; or lining up to see independent bands in a dark basement of a hotel.

Memories, wonderful memories.

Recently I flew from Australian to the United States, and during that trip all the memories flooded back as the playlist played the memories of my life. I love music. And on this flight one song just knocked me back, slapped me in the face and punched me so hard that I knew I had to share. While memories are great, new meanings can be forged. Meanings that allow the song to have new relevance in my life. I call it my wake-up call at 35,000 feet.

“There you stand in your dungarees​
Looking all grown up and so very pleased​
When you write your poems they have so much to say​
When you speak your dreams it takes my breath away
You know I want to be a ball player​
A regular slugging fool​
But I guess our dreams must wait awhile​
Until we finish school*”

Harry Chapin’s “Greatest Stories Live” starts with his classic, “As Dreams Go By”. The lyrics from the first two verses just blew me away. To me it was always a cute song, a song with a story, but for the first time the song became my story. It built a new meaning for me. It became my story, the story of my life. I first listened to Harry when I was mid-teens and the real meaning of that song was missed. Maybe it was because as a teenager my life seemingly stretched ahead of me. It seemed inconceivable to me that I wouldn’t achieve my dreams, that I wouldn’t forge a life of greatness. Now I know different.

Life still lies in front of me, but realistically less of it. A good 30 years has passed since this song was first enjoyed and now the same song has created some greater urgency in my life. I’ve let opportunities slip by in life, haven’t looked after myself, talked myself out of things, just to name a few. I’ve lived with regret, I’ve lived with the knowledge that talent is beaten everyday by people with less talent but greater commitment. I’ve taken myself out of the game at times, for reasons of fear. The wakeup call at 35,000 showed me, that now is the best time to be forging the life of your dreams.

“And so you and I​
We watch our years go by​
We watch our sweet dreams fly​
Far away, but maybe someday
I don’t know when​
But we will dream again​

And we’ll be happy then​
‘Til our time just drifts away*”

The problem is we believe we have time. A quote and a thought that has been attributed to many people, but one that resonates deeply with many more. And how true is this. When we are young we have a dream, a dream born from our amazing imagination and a deep belief that we can do anything, but for many reasons that we give ourselves, we park our dreams until a better time. In the first versus it was the need to finish school, the middle verses spoke of marriage and the need to start a family, and the final verses detail the attachment to the grandchildren. All the while suppressing the dreams of the couple.

“You say you should have been a ballerina, babe​ There are songs I should have sung​
But I guess our dreams have come and gone​
You’re ‘sposed dream when you are young*”

Is there really a time when our dreams really do leave us and come beyond our reach? Absolutely. When we suppress what we want to do and live the life we believe we are expected to live, there will come a time when our dreams that we dreamed with a fervour and an energy get beyond us. I will never be a
professional surfer, a professional rugby league player; the list goes on.

“Listen to the seasons passing​
Listen to the wind blow​
Listen to the children laughing​
Where do broken dreams go?*”

So, grab it while you can. While many of my. dreams are now beyond me, the reality is that dreams change as we grow and learn. Our purpose for life becomes more apparent, driving greater fulfilment in our lives. If our childhood dreams were the ones we were destined to bring into fruition, we would have a world filled with Princesses and Cowboys (many would say we already do Just check Instagram).

Dreams mature just as we do. Yet, many will still suppress their dreams, beliefs and goals.

We suppress them for the very reasons detailed in the song, we get married, we get a job, we raise a family. To live a life, we perceive is the one we are supposed to live. To suppress talents and gifts, while dealing with a life we have chosen. Now this isn’t to say we don’t enjoy our lives. Our families, friends and lovers are dear to us, of course, we enjoy their company, we love the times we are with them. But that song that sits within you should also be heard. That poem you wrote for a beautiful sunrise is needed in the world.

What is needed in the world is energetic and passionate people. Not the world of average and mundane.

Some fly under the radar and look for certainty, many will be fearful of chasing their dreams for fear of criticism, others will find other reasons or excuses. Others chase their dreams part-time, as a hobby.

Many will have the talent of others on the world stage and comfort ourselves with that very knowledge, others find success as a teenager and live on that the rest of their days.

The problem is, we all believe we have time. There are many things I still want to achieve, many things I want to do, places I want to travel, experiences I want to feel. Suppressing them, waiting for a better time or circumstance, may be reasoned away as logic, the reality is that time will run out. My purpose (and yours) cannot be left to be buried with the lost and broken dreams of so many others. You are important, your dreams are important. Grab it while you can. Have energy, have passion, believe in yourself. Opportunities abound, we must be wise enough to see them.

 

Lyrics for “As Dreams Go By”
here you stand in your dungarees​
Looking all grown up and so very pleased​
When you write your poems they have so much to say​
When you speak your dreams it takes my breath away
You know I want to be a ball player​
A regular slugging fool​
But I guess our dreams must wait awhile​
Until we finish school
And so you and I​
We watch our years go by​
We watch our sweet dreams fly​
Far away, but maybe someday
I don’t know when​
But we will dream again​
And we’ll be happy then​
‘Til our time just drifts away
There you stand in your wedding dress​
You’re so beautiful that I must confess​
I’m so proud you have chosen me​
When a doctor is what you want to be
You know I want to be a painter, girl​
A real artistic snob​
But I guess we’ll have our children first​
You’ll find a home, I’ll get a job
Listen to the seasons passing​
Listen to the wind blow​
Listen to the children laughing​
Where do broken dreams go?
There you stand in your tailored suit​
So many years gone by, but you’re still so cute​
You take the car to go and meet the bus​
When our grandchildren come to visit us
You say you should have been a ballerina, babe​
There are songs I should have sung​
But I guess our dreams have come and gone​

You’re ‘sposed dream when you are young
And so you and I​
We’ll watch our years go by​
We’ll watch our sweet dreams fly​
Far away, but maybe someday
I don’t know when​
But we will dream again​
And we’ll be happy then​
‘Til our time just drifts away

 

Written by Harry F. Chapin • Copyright © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc

About Author

Tony Curl

Tony Curl has been a successful corporate leader for 30 years. He now works alongside leaders in Australia to maintain clarity on their vision and purpose, and helps map their way around their roadblocks and obstacles. Unless you take action on your goals, they remain a dream.

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