Years ago, back when I was about 16, I wrote a song called, “Paint a Picture”. It went like this:
Paint a picture on the wall
Of everything you want this world to be.
Pick pretty colors, use them all
To paint the world you’d really like to see.
And when you’ve finished painting
All the dreams that you can think of
Stand back and take a look at all those dreams unfurled
Then go out and paint that picture on the world.
Honestly, I don’t know where those words came from. I certainly didn’t comprehend them at the time. No sooner than I had finished, my pragmatic mind immediately went to work on them: “What kind of hippie-dippy, flower-power nonsense is that? It’s way too idealistic – and unrealistic. I can’t do anything to change the world…” And on it went. Meanwhile my heart was desperately whispering, “It’s true, it’s true, you can, you can”.
But it was a lone voice.
Even as I attempted to pursue my dreams, the naysayers were all around me with their “words of wisdom”:
- “This is fine for now, until you figure out what you really want to do.”
- “Pretty soon you’ll have to come down out of the clouds and live in the real world.”
- “You have to earn a living. You have to put bread on the table.”
- “You can’t just keep chasing those dreams forever.”
- “God wants you to give up your dreams because He has a better plan for your life.”
Like a fool, I let their voices get into my head. And I stopped listening to my heart.
With “Paint a Picture” tucked safely away in my writing notebook, I quietly closed the cover on it and went on with life. Over the years, it got lost amongst sadder lyrics about broken hearts and unfinished business. Every once in a while I’d run across that idealistic little verse again. Once more, I’d breathe a heavy sigh. “Nice sentiment”, I’d think to myself. “But I was just a kid, I didn’t understand how hard life can be”.
Well, I’m not a kid anymore. I understand how hard life can be. But I’ve finally realized that God never asked me to give up my dreams for some “better plan” He’d concocted. I know now that He put that dreamer’s song in my heart the day I was born. And 16 years later, in a moment of teenage hippie-dippyness, I began singing the words while plunking away on my guitar, and I wrote them down on a sheet of paper. There they would lay, waiting to remind me time and time again that God’s only plan for my life was to dream the dreams He had planted deep inside me, paint them on the world and leave it a more beautiful place than I found it.
So, fifty-plus years into this trip around the planet, I finally figure this out.
What can I do about it now?
Well, I still have a few years left. I’m here for a while and for a reason, and somehow I don’t think it’s to sit around waiting on the bus. Regardless of what happened in the past, the message is still the same today: dream it, do it. Call me idealistic, unrealistic, hippie-dippy, even senile. But I’m starting to dream all over again.
Because it’s no way to go through life, not believing your own song…