Honoring Humanity In Everyday Life | About

On the Wings of Forgotten Dreams

Meant to fly.

Airports are gateways. They are gateways to adventure – where people set out to see the world. They are gateways to reunion – where people return home to see those they love. They are gateways to employment – where people work to earn their living. But in going to the airport to say goodbye to my parents – who are flying back to Kenya – I find a different gateway. I find a gateway to remembrance.

I pass the departure screens – watching them scroll through the list of cities, times, and flight numbers.

I move through the crowd of men and women with suitcases – wondering where they are headed today.

I ride the train between terminals – looking out at the airplanes taking flight and touching down.

I walk beneath flags – thinking about all the different places in the world that I would love to visit.

I sit with my family – talking to them about their upcoming trip.

I wave goodbye to my parents – bidding them a safe journey.

As I move through the airport, I reflect on what I see. I contemplate my feelings.

It feels strange to go to the airport and not get on a plane. It’s as though a part of me is missing. I feel as though I’ve forgotten something – something important.

_bidding farewell to loved ones
with a trip to the airport
to watch them depart
with the echo of my dreams</p>

with a trip to the airport
the gateway to an adventure
that is not mine

to watch them depart
into the crowds
of people going somewhere

with the echo of my dreams
once so strong and clear
but now forgotten</em>


I look back to the origins of the Bright Army. I look back to when I left my job and entered the world of self-employment. I had so many dreams – places I wanted to travel, work I wanted to do, and people I wanted to touch.

I remember those dreams. And I take stock of where I am right now.

take flight and travel
journey to distant places
see lovely people

I once dreamed of traveling the world – of seeing its many beautiful cultures and peoples.

Being able to travel was near the heart of why I left my previous job. I wanted more than two weeks a year to visit far away places. I longed to hear the stories of people who have a different way of viewing the world.

And as I watch aircraft take off down the runway, I realize I’ve put this dream aside.

My journey to Portland was the last time I set foot in an plane – and I scheduled that trip before leaving my job. I say I want to travel, but I have nothing more than accumulated frequent flyer miles – no bookings or itineraries. The most I have done is to wander my neighborhood. That’s good, but it is a sellout to my dream.

soar so high above
with the open air around
fly free as a bird

I once dreamed of earning a decent living – of increasing the freedom in my life.

Being able to control my income was part of why I chose self-employment. I could determine the amount I worked, the people I worked for, and how much I charged. I could earn enough to take care of my family, travel the world, support my writing, and donate to causes I cared about.

And as I watch planes soar up into the clouds, I realize I’ve put this dream aside.

In my time as a freelancer, I’ve had several successful projects. I’ve done work that I’m proud of and have delivered value to my clients. But I’m coasting. I bring in just enough work to cover my cost of living. I limit my freedom. I limit my dreams.

as you see the view
from your high and lofty flight
take others along

I once dreamed of telling stories of humanity – of making other people matter.

Founding the Bright Army was about writing. It was about delving into the secrets of my craft. This project was about seeking stories of humanity – especially those of the poor. It was about learning how to live through that humanity and sharing what I learned with others.

And as I watch the crowds of people go by, I realize I’ve put this dream aside.

I’ve created several excellent pieces – works of that come from the depths of who I am. But for each post I’m proud of, there are others that do not reach to the limits of my ability and effort. That’s not to say they aren’t good. They are. But they don’t reach the bar I’ve set for myself. They fall short of my dreams.

embrace the unknown
fly past imagined limits
seek out adventure

I once dreamed of living an adventure – making my life a story worth living. I once dreamed of facing dragons – pushing beyond what I imagined possible.

But I’ve let my dreams be forgotten.


sitting in the shed
hiding in the dark, stale air
when we’re meant to fly
becoming comfortable
sitting where rust takes over

Complacency creeps in. Ordinary life lulls you into feeling comfortable. The dragon lies to you – telling you it’s better to be safe.

But the corruption does not take hold with a sudden strike. Rather, it’s a slow and gradual process. Step by step, excuses take the place of your dreams.

Oh, I have to help my wife through the end of her pregnancy.

Oh, this video is only a few minutes long. I can work on my dreams when I’m done watching it.

Oh, I’m tired today. I’ll wait till I have energy to devote to my work. I want to do a good job after all.

Oh, my life isn’t that bad right now. It won’t hurt to stay like this for a little longer.

And before you know it, you’ve grounded your dreams.


_return to the shed
where your dream sits idle
uncover its wings
and take it outside</p>

where your dream sits idle
once forgotten
but now remembered

uncover its wings
give your dream a dusting
of attention and love

and take it outside
beneath the open skies
where dreams are meant to fly</em>

The good news is that you can always pick up dreams you’ve put aside. You can reclaim them. It will take hard work and effort. But dreams demand that anyways. And the effort is worthwhile.

Part of the challenge is staying alert – countering the slow and deadly creep of complacency. I’ve found a few practices helpful. They serve as touchstones, reminding me of my dreams.

Remember death. Your time here is not an infinite resource. What do you hope to leave behind? The death of a loved one sometimes forces this question upon you. As I grieved the loss of my grandfather, I thought about his legacy. I thought about the legacy I was building.

Celebrate birth. Looking at my young daughter, I want her to dream big. And if she is to seek out adventure, then I must be a guide for her. I must lead by example.

Visit places connected with your dreams. Going to the airport reminds me how much I love to travel. Walking the streets of my neighborhood, and seeing the diversity of people, draws me back to subjects I want to write about.

Take small actions toward your dream every day. What you do influences your thoughts and attention – even if you only give it five minutes. Writing my seven-fifty words a day gets me working on my craft.

Rely on others. Your dreams may belong to you, but that doesn’t mean you have to do them on your own. People are happy to help. My wife periodically questions my priorities. She encourages me to dream bigger.


remember again
that open skies await you
spread your wings in flight

As I remember my lost dreams – dreams that I’ve brushed aside – the temptation is to feel bad. My instinct is to look back and call myself a failure. But that isn’t helpful. Instead, I look forward.

I look to my dream of travel. I think about my return trip to Portland. I begin plotting a return to my homeland of Kenya.

I look to my dream of work. I ponder ways to understand and connect with potential clients. I wonder about what systems I need to put in place.

I look to my dream of stories. I reflect on the details of my craft – looking at what makes some posts better than others. I return again to the mission of the Bright Army.

And as I reclaim my dreams, I begin the slow taxi to the runway. It’s time to fly.


What advice can you give? How do you stay focused on your dreams?


PHOTO: Meant to fly. Torit, Sudan.