Whoopee! I get to go to the circus tonight! I can hardly wait.

Pardon my excitement. It’s not even a “real” circus – not a Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey type circus. But I’m excited anyway.

My daughter called while we were having breakfast to tell me that Josh, my middle grandson, wanted to be sure that I knew that his circus is tonight.

Each year, his school puts on a circus. The little kids, from pre-school to about the third grade, put on costumes and become circus animals, clowns, strong men, and jugglers.

Josh is going to be a juggler. He had mentioned this casually in church Sunday. Then, to be sure that I got the hint, he had his mother call. He’s been practicing, my daughter tells me in that world-weary tone that parents sometimes use, mostly with fruit.

I was a little older than Josh is when I fell in love with the circus but then, my school didn’t put on yearly circuses so my development was slightly retarded.

I had to wait until Disney put out a movie version of a book written in 1881 by James Otis Kaler. Toby Tyler; or Ten Weeks With the Circus, was intended as a cautionary tale about what happens to bad boys who do things like running away to join the circus.

In reality, the movie inspired by the book inflamed the minds of little boys (and girls) all over the country with the romance of the circus. I loved the movie and read the book and played with Toby Tyler paper dolls and colored in Toby Tyler coloring books.

I dreamed of running away and joining the circus. I would become a bare-back rider with a sparkly, but skimpy, costume and a white plume rising from the top of my head. Or I would become a lion tamer and work my will on the savage beasts so that the people in the audience would tremble with fear and then gasp with amazement at my skill and courage. Or maybe I would be a clown. Or a juggler.

Ah, well. Dreams change. Toby Tyler helped me dream through the complexities of growing up and the banalities (though I would never have used that word then) of lower middle-class life in middle America. Then Toby Tyler was discarded, like a much-loved doll finally left on the shelf. I dreamed other dreams.

The latest issue of Discover magazine (arrived yesterday) has a brief teaser about a blog post on http://discovermagazine.com/web/consciousness:

“Back in our watery days as fish, it was difficult to see things far away: Light is limited tens of meters underwater, making vision murky.
“When we moved onto land, suddenly we could see much further, possibly making the act of planning more feasible and worthwhile.”

Dreaming is about moving out of the murky depths of our lives, seeing further and hoping and planning for more.

Dreams, whether they are merely the vague hope of something better or full-blown technicolor, popcorn-scented productions of the active mind, are vitally important not only for children but also, and perhaps even especially, for adults. Dreams give us something to hope for, something to work for, a goal that focuses our attention and our efforts.

It will come as no surprise to you when I say that life doesn’t always work out the way we intend. Our dreams don’t always come true. I didn’t become a bare-back rider or a lion tamer – or a juggler.

And some of my dreams turned into nightmares.

Perhaps you have had similar experiences. Whatever your dreams were, whatever your disappointments were, don’t stop dreaming. Don’t stop hoping.

It has been said that when you stop living, you start dying. I think the same is true for dreaming. When you stop dreaming, you start despairing. It is a form of death.

Author's Bio: 

I am a Baby Boomer who is reinventing herself and an internet entrepreneur focusing on self-help for the Baby Boomer generation. I spent sixteen years serving as pastor in United Methodist congregations all over Kansas. Those congregations were made up primarily of Baby Boomer or older members, so I developed some expertise with the Baby Boomer generation. I am now on leave of absence and living in Atchison, Ks. with my almost-thirty year old son and two cats. I also help my daughter, also living in Atchison, with three sons, ages 8, 6, and 18 mos, while their father is in Afghanistan. My website is found at http://www.for-boomers.com