What Happens to a Dream Deferred?


I love the romance and unpredictability that the road offers. The whole life it beckons. Sure it’s not always business lounges or coups de champagne, but it’s the whiff of everything new and a different sun just around the next horizon that keeps the mind fresh.

I know that people say that you can’t predict what will happen in life. Sure, the little things you can control—what, your career progression or next move perhaps—but inevitably the unpredictability of life happens when you get hit by a car on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, and it irreparably changes your world forever.

But I beg to differ; you can predict life. You can see yourself three years from now, living in this house, working at that job, living with this man. It can be exactly how you’d imagined it; I could predict three years before that I’d be living in this house, working at this job, although perhaps not living with this man…

I see the predictability seeping like irreconcilable dread all around me. For me, it exists in mediocre marriages because society expected it, or perhaps after five years, a ring was simply the next logical step. I see it as the trade-off between a life of passion and a life of easy comfort. It lies in the life where hours are passed for cheap entertainment over the deep emotions that move the core. It exists in the caverns of lost dreams and ambitions.

I think back to the old poems that we were forced to memorize as children. Robert Frost, John McCrae… and then Langston Hughes, whose poem reverberates through my skull as I ponder where to take my life next—if I’m willing to choose freefall—or whether to move at all from this allegory of Plato’s cave….

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?

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