Big dreams haunted by a fear of failure
by DELANEY WALKER Banner Staff Writer
Apr 27, 2014 | 672 views | 0 0 comments | 36 36 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Turbulent orange.

That is what I want my twilight to look like.

Hues of pink and gold dancing across the sky.

Rolling, boisterous clouds huge and powerful stretching to act as a canvas for the setting sun.

Have you ever sat back and imagined the color of your twilight? 

Yeah. I haven’t either. At least, the thought never crossed my mind until I looked up quotes on failure and this dandy penned by Theodore Roosevelt popped up:

“Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure ... than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows no victory nor defeat.” 

How miserable, and yet hauntingly familiar, does that sound? To be stuck in a gray land because the threat of failure is too real and the promise of victory too far away. Or, remaining on the same dusty path instead of climbing the mountains because it seems like too much work.

Life is meant for more than what ifs. Those questions are important, but they are not ready-made determinants. How about instead of asking:

what if I fail,

what if I hurt,

what if I struggle,

we instead wonder, what if I never try?

Maybe the question doesn’t plague you as it has me these past two years. The thought has swam, stomped, hurtled, floated through my brain in one form or another with each passing week. I stand still holding my “what if’s” close— almost as hard as I do my dreams.

Langston Hughes once wrote a poem titled “Harlem.”

“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?”

While the title and social issues of Hughes’ time lead the reader to believe he is addressing issues found in the downtrodden city, his overarching thought is on dreams deferred.

Instead of being trapped by societal norms, I think most often dreams deferred in my life are the product of inactivity or worry. My dreams remain tucked away in a promise box. My thoughts linger around the box, but I never dare to take a peek inside.

What if they disappeared? 

What if the world saw those hopes, those bursts of inspiration and laughed? 

What if my dreams slipped away into the sky before I had an opportunity to grab hold? 

Do dreams whither and die under the dry, gray sky? 

My favorite courses in high school were always English. Even when I didn’t necessarily care for the teacher, I had a soft spot for him or her because of the subject matter. It was my hope to inspire, to amuse, to invigorate others with my words.

Except, I did nothing to achieve the dream. Journals filled with random poems and prose (never quite filled to the end) gathered on my bookshelves. Assignments were finished last minute with the knowledge I would get an “A,” whether or not I put much thought behind the words.

Finally, my senior year of high school found me reaching — just a little, mind you — but reaching nonetheless. I signed up for the Journalism course. I had high hopes of the teacher dubbing me the best of the best.

I left the class with the belief I would never work in journalism. While I did not fail the course, I seemed to do nothing right. One prayer sticks with me from the semester-long course, “God, it would be cool to work at a newspaper.”

And here I am.

It feels good to see I am capable of a career I once thought beyond my grasp, but I have to be honest with you, Readers. I did not actively pursue this route. It was more a matter of divine intervention.

Still, it gives me a taste of what it would be like to release my dreams from their cubby hole, clasp my hands tight around the tail and run in pursuit whether down a dusty path, over green hills, up the side of a mountain or through a rushing river.

Patches of color flit from one end of my twilight to another, looking like tangerines dancing in the air. I tend to be harsh on myself, but I know my sky is not near as gray as I may have led you to believe. It is tinged with color squeezed from personal triumphs — even failures, as bruises bloom in spots of blue, green, yellow and purple, too.

It’s just when there is the possibility of such vibrant life, why do I continue to settle for a bland slush overhead? 

Michael Jordan once said he could accept failure, because everyone fails at something. However, he could not accept not trying. I sure hope that is thought that blossoms into action for both you and me in these coming days.