There’s a woman in the Democratic Republic of Congo standing there. In her lovely, colorful dress she stands in the middle of some, by our standards, humble dwellings. The photographer Brandon asks her, “What’s your biggest dream?”
The woman, almost smiling as the camera clicks, replies, “To be the mother of a doctor, the mother of a minister, the mother of an engineer.”
Wow. So there’s this amazing thing (I am not sure what else to call it) called “Humans of New York.” The photographer usually posts several photos and quotes from people throughout the day. Right now he is on a UN World Tour, and the journey has been so beautiful and broken, I have cried or laughed at each post–and sometimes I’ve done both. People are people all over, you know? We are all made of the same stuff, and our hearts all break and fall and love– sometimes over the same things, sometimes different. I follow the page on Facebook, but I guess it is based on a “Tumblr” account–something I’ve not ventured into. I first read the woman’s story above on Facebook, and her answer touched me. You can see her picture here. She is beautiful and graceful and regal as she stands there, isn’t she?
And in her answer too, in my opinion.
But not everyone agreed.
I remember someone commented, “Shouldn’t her children have a say in this?” “Why is she setting such high goals for them? She should be happy whatever they want to do.” And so on.
As a Mama, I get it. I dream big for my children. My Daddy once told me that each generation wants their children to have it a little better than the one before them did. Maybe that’s it. I want them to dream big, and I want to be right there encouraging and empowering and cheering them through to the finish line, until they figure out what the next big thing is, and off we go again. I want them to be satisfied with where they are but never quite comfortable enough to stay there. (Not necessarily geographically speaking, y’all. Staying put is fine, not moving is not. There is a difference.)
I think that DROC Mama wants something better for her children too. I think maybe something might have been lost in the translation since some folks seemed to read it another way, but looking at that picture, my heart heard what I think she is saying. Her biggest dream is that her children will choose a path that could take them far away from the worry and strife and poverty for their own families–a path that will not only allow them to take care of themselves, but also to care for others.
Sitting here now thinking about it, I think her biggest dream is symbolic of her hope–the careers she spoke of for her children take care of the body, the soul, and their future. All of which can give her hope that things will be better for them and for those who follow. She wants her children to make a difference in this world, and she thought of three paths that will do just that if done with caring and compassion.
Both of which I’m hedging my bets she’s teaching them.
I’m sad that she was judged so quickly and harshly by folks here in our society–one in which the education and paths to all three of those choices are a little easier, I expect, than in the community this woman is living. She is choosing strength and a foundation of caring for her children.
And her biggest dream is about them carrying on and making a difference.
That. Right. There.
Her biggest dream wasn’t winning the lottery, if they even have one. It wasn’t about owning a mansion or driving a fancy car. It wasn’t about writing the next great highly-acclaimed novel. It wasn’t even about having enough food on the table or clean water to drink.
She is a dreamer. And her dream is about those she was given to love and to raise. And it was a gift from her to them–a gift of hope blooming and them making this world a better place.
I don’t even know.
I don’t know what my own answer would be if asked that question. I have so much. So. Very. Much.
Dream? My biggest dream?
That the world be a little less broken and that me and mine can be a part of getting it there?
Tonight I’m thankful for folks like Brandon at HONY who are changing our world, bringing us all a little closer together one photograph and shared story at a time. And I’m especially grateful to my sister half a world away who taught me a big something about what matters and what real dreams and caring look like in this world. Bless her.
Love to all.
As I sat here writing tonight, this song kept going through my head. I was a huge fan of David Cook’s as he competed in American Idol, and I LOVED this song he sang in the finale. I guess that’s why I keep hearing “If you don’t dream big, what’s the use of dreaming?” over and over. That and “Go big or go home.”
Here’s the lyrics to the song with vocals by David Cook. (The other videos had the judges’ stuff after and who needs that–we already know he WON, he’s just that fabulous. And he’s a dreamer too…..) Hope y’all enjoy.