Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A Dream Deferred

A Dream Deferred
By Langston Hughes

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?

Growing up, I was the dreamer of all dreamers.  I was the one who went around teaching my peers how to dream.  My dream of an arts filled future was a spiritual experience.  I never felt closer to God than when I was dreaming, or working towards what I knew to be my destiny.
 I was on the right track.  I went to a high school for the performing arts for half of each school day.  My program of study was Radio and Television production.  In this class I felt as if I could finally breathe, as if all of my dreaming had led me to that point.  At Fort Hayes Metropolitan Education Center for the first time in my life I felt like an artist at work.  In my class we worked on radio broadcasts, music videos, news broadcasts and short films.  I worked after school as a production assistant for an educational television network. I interned with television and film based companies. I was on my way…and then life happened.
 After graduation I headed straight to New York City (my hometown) expecting producers to take one look at me and see my passion and hire me right on the spot.  I would take any job, but the offers didn’t come as quickly as I thought they would.  At the time I was staying with a relative who suggested that I go back to Ohio and work a “normal” job.
I see this moment when I decided to leave New York City, as one of the biggest mistakes of my life.  Something changed.  After getting back to Ohio, I learned that I was accepted for an internship in NYC, but I didn’t have the money to get back there.  
 I started working regular  9-5 jobs.  First I was a janitor, but that was okay because while I was mopping bathroom floors I would take dance breaks, and work through monologues in the mirror.  I would have full-fledged productions running through my mind.  Then the office jobs came. I begrudgingly worked them.  I tried to hold onto my dreams, like I would a dear friend who was slipping away, but with each let down my dreams got more cloudy until they all but disappeared. 
The ache, however, for fulfillment did not leave me.  It glowed and hummed beneath the surface like a crystal in Superman's house buried beneath mounds of snow. 
Growing up I was very familiar with Langston Hughes’s poem, but I did not understand it until my own dreams were deferred.  I’ve found that dreams really do  "sag like a heavy load," and on many occasions I thought it would explode…  
What were your dreams?  What advice do you have for those of us whose dreams have been deferred? 

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