Parenting…dreams

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During my younger son’s eighth grade graduation, the principal gave a fabulous speech. He asked the youngsters to dream big dreams, to reach for the moon and in case they missed landing on the moon, they would fall on the stars. He asked them to ignore laughter and taunts that might come in the way of realizing their dreams. I loved the speech… thought it was one of the most inspiring I had ever heard. It reminded me of something one of the biggest and most imaginative dreamers in the history of mankind, Albert Einstein, said,

“Never give up on what you really want to do. The person with big dreams is more powerful than one with all the facts.”

I have always been a person who believes that having big dreams is the first step to realizing them. And to me the biggest tragedy is when a child or youngster says he or she has no dream. To dream, to believe in a dream is the first thing that I tried to inculcate in my children.

For us, it all started with stories. One of my sons wanted to fly like Peter Pan and have dustbin dump truck birthday cakes. Another wanted a sunshine cake on his birthday and to do so many things together… he is still trying to concretize his dream. My five-year-old niece believes I have fairies and a balloon tree in my house and I can make magic dust to fly to Never-Never Land… she even wants to know how many people I know in Never-Never Land. The little realist in her also longs to read because reading brings her closer to things of which she dreams… fairies, magic dust and happiness. She saw many books in her fourteen-year-old cousin’s room and said, “I cannot read all those now.” Her cousin, brought up to think that all dreams are achievable, told her, “But you can eventually…” And  eventually she will realize her dream and pursue her passions. But the first step the little girl is taking towards growing up is to learn nothing is impossible. No dreams are too big. To dream or to find ones dream is the biggest adventure for a child. Their dreams will not just be a reality but something that will shape their lives, their existence. Of course, my niece will like my sons realise as she grows up, that Peter Pan is a myth but by then other dreams would have replaced the need to fly to Never-Never Land.

The thing we as parents need to do is to handle the transitioning of dreams with a light touch, with a sense of humor, and not get lost in the intensity and forced materialization of a dream. If a child wants to be an Olympic champion in swimming, but later wants to move on to being a businessman, we need to humor him till he has steadied his own mind and intent and is older. My elder son at a point wanted to be a neuro-surgeon, a space scientist and a bunch of other things… we humored him till he felt he found his dream… and now he pursues it with a passion… though there is still more of it to realize. The concretization started only when he was completing his teens! But he was allowed to dream and dream on the impossible…

As parents, many of us like to push our children towards pragmatic goals, the easily identified and achievable ends which will put bread and butter on the table and bring home enough cash. We urge them to give up their own dreams to come to terms with reality. Our parents might have told us the same when we were trying to find our dream. How many of us gave up our dreams, our romances to settle for the practical and we consider ourselves blessed and happy because we have the mundane; money, career, houses, cars…. or whatever it is that is important to you in your circle… could be clubs, travel, yatchs… However, these are what I would call ‘things’ as opposed to ‘ideas’. To me pursuing ‘ideas’ is more important because that is what makes mankind move forward towards civilization and progress. I would rather have an impractical dreamer who, as he grows up trying to materialize his dreams, moves towards a more pragmatic reality and blends his vision with the needs of mankind, to contribute to a more positive future.

If parents say their children have no dreams, no ambition except for playing online games or partying or watching YouTube videos, maybe they need to know their children better. Perhaps their children’s dreams lie wrapped in the things they are doing and the parents are too wary to acknowledge the unconventionality of their child’s dream. Some children also may take longer to materialize their dreams… but they all get there at some point if you let them be themselves and don’t impose your own fears and insecurities on them, including social acceptance… Of course, everyone will not be a star but at least let them try to be themselves, give them the tools to flourish but the blooming has to be theirs, not the parents…

Often parents talk of bringing up children with good values, make them focus on practicalities and destroy their dreams altogether and the children become part of the faceless workforce that live to earn and earn to live and accept anything that comes their way as long as they have their material comforts. Is this what we look forward to as a bright future? To me a bright future is not a life of ease and plenty but a future where a child feels fulfilled and happy, where a child will feel he has a purposeful life. To this end, it is important that the child pursue his own dreams and not that of his parents. Perhaps it is time to change our mindset, to start believing in the reality of dreaming and letting dreams exist. Perhaps we need to believe in what Einstein said,

“We cannot get to where we dream of being tomorrow unless we change our thinking today.”

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The Creators

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The mind police was in a quandary. They could not locate Jasmine. She had blocked them off completely. The mind police never chased a person physically but studied the thought waves and found the people. Then they pinged to the person, accosted him by surprise, gave a whiff of chloroform to the truant and pinged them back to their own reality to decide on the course of action. If the truant had just lost touch unintentionally, then they would just send them to the correctional facility. They would be re-trained. If they showed signs of rebellion, they would wipe out their memories with a flash of the memory eraser and take them back to the dimension from where they had been brought in as a baby.

Jasmine was an issue. She had a mission and a vision at an inappropriate age. She did not fit into any of the dimensions that existed. At twenty, she had a vision of a new reality. That is what the councillors did at three hundred!

Mankind was not ready for a multi-dimensional existence, not just mankind but even the other species. Take the fluffy, harmless looking golliwogs for instance. They lived in jungles and growled at and bit anyone who went near the hordes of chocolate they had plucked from trees. They loved it when their candy floss clouds rained sweet syrups which filled their pools. They were always high on sugar and never slept. That was a strange dimension… No one was quite clear why and how it existed.

The mind police were wondering if they should check out Jasmine in different realities. There was the dimension where she had remained with her parents and would have grown up to be a writer called Jacinth. Of course, Jacinth was about a decade older than the Jasmine.

Jacinth looked at the girl at the gate and smiled, “Come in,”she said. “How strange that you should have the same name as my character in this story! What is that on your shoulder? Is it some kind of a toy?”

“ No. It is a golliwog,” said Jasmine as she walked towards Jacinth.

The mind police had never looked at Jacinth beyond the time they had got hold of Jasmine more than two decades ago. They didnot know her thought patterns. She would be difficult to trace in the chaos of minds. The mind police knew that Jasmine came from a reality where the parents had suddenly lost their baby in a crowded book fair. The baby had been pinged to the councillors as they had identified Jacinth as a powerful creative mind. They did not want to lose such a dynamic force. Her name had been changed to Jasmine so that she would not be recognized in her own original dimension if she ever went back. They knew she would have to travel to different dimension when she was studying for her councillorship. They did have to visit multiple realities to study the need for thinking and how thought could be materialized.

What nobody foresaw was that Jasmine would never want to be part of a collective consciousness but would want an individuality beyond the needs of the creative dimension.

In the creative dimension, thought was common property. There were no copyrights. A consciousness existed not only among the living but also among the inanimate objects. A rock and a plant were as much a part of the collective mind as were people’s thoughts.

Jasmine sat down on the chair Jacinth pulled out for her. “Thanks,” she said. The golliwog jumped onto the table and grabbed some candy that lay in a small basket on the table. She started chanting and eating on the table. Jacinth looked on perturbed.

“What is that?” she asked.

“ That is a golliwog, a creature from another dimension. She is called JaJa.”

At the sound of her name, the creature started singing in a strange language and gurgling.

Jacinth found her peculiar but she was an open and tolerant individual so she put up with JaJa quietly. Jasmine, an adept mind reader, could see the struggle in Jacinth’s mind. She knew all about Jacinth. Jacinth knew nothing about her.

Jasmine said, “I am going to ask you a bunch of questions that sound peculiar but you must answer them so that I can tell you who I am.”

Jacinth felt she was in a dream.

“Do you believe in a multiverse?”

“Yes, I do,” answered Jacinth.

“Are you getting strange colourful dreams about walking on clouds and people fleeing?”

“Yes. I am. But how would you know that?”

“You will understand by and by. For, the time being please believe me when I say I am you in another dimension. I know we have more selves in the multiverse. JaJa is a version of us from a more primitive dimension. She lives on candy and syrup.”

Jacinth was staring at Jasmine and JaJa open-mouthed!

“Please listen carefully. The mind police from my dimension is trying to catch me. I am not a felon but I think different. Sooner or later they will look for me in your home. Right now, they are probably trying to track your thought waves. You need to continue focussing on JaJa and not me. They do not know JaJa exists. They only know of you and me and they have lost track of you. Does all that make sense?”

“Kind of…More like fiction…”replied Jacinth.

“ It is the reality. We need to pinge out of your dimension and to our bubbleself’s dimension to avoid detection. The mind police is not aware of the bubble universe because it keeps drifting and is difficult to access. Right now, just trust me. Hold on to my arm when I clap the tongs. And whatever happens don’t let go.”

Jasmine again placed JaJa on her shoulder.

Jacinth was ever ready for an adventure and agreed. Everything seemed like out of a dream or a racy fiction for her.

Jasmine took out what looked like an oversized tong from her knapsack and clapped the tongs. Jacinth was holding on to her and JaJa too. She heard a strange ping and then she felt herself move through a whirl of air and kaleidoscopic light and emerge into a strange blue sphere. She could see a giant bubble floating, or rather hopping. She felt their trio rush through the air and land inside the bubble with a ping.