“Every night, I lie in bed
The brightest colors fill my head
A million dreams are keeping me awake
I think of what the world could be
A vision of the one I see
A million dreams is all it’s gonna take
A million dreams for the world we’re gonna make.”
-Songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, Performed by P!nk click here to enjoy the song.
Ever since I can remember, I had this feeling inside me that there was something I was supposed to do to help the world. It has been my dream to serve a larger purpose and to open doors for others to find theirs. During these transformative times, I stare up at the ceiling many nights, wondering how to make this a reality. I believe we all are here to play our part in the one song of life…the Uni-verse. Despite how impossible this seems right now, can you imagine a world where we were not afraid or held back by ourselves or others to manifest the gifts we carry? When I shared this idea at one of our Little Barn of Big Ideas circles, my friend Tracy said, “you remind me of that song, A Million Dreams.” Its beautiful lyrics express precisely how I feel about manifesting millions of dreams in the world.
Understandably, my least favorite words are “no” and “can’t.” When I dared to stand up and run after my big dream, I had too many people try to stop that race. I often wonder, did they really think I couldn’t succeed, or were they afraid that I would? Having people stand in the way was the worst. Regardless, all those roadblocks just led me to another path as it does for all of us. They became stepping stones that brought me to see the world in a whole new way. As Helen Keller shared, “Failures become victories if they make us wise-hearted.” We have to gather the pieces and continue to move forward to build something else.
But how do we know if we are on the right path to discover our dreams? It’s not like we are born with a manual or a map…or are we? Have you ever observed little kids and the things they say and do? I remember writing down whatever my kids said when they were small because they were so free spirited and often quite wise. We look back at those words still today–they knew who they were from the moment they were born. We lose that inner compass because we are taught to look outside of ourselves for the answers. Then we spend the rest of our lives unlearning back to our center and the deeper meanings within us. Back to the things we know in our heart are self-evident. Like Courage, Inspiration, Integrity, Equality, Compassion, and Gratitude. A little map that would lead us to find the treasure within.
All of the civil graces appear in nearly any tradition or culture I could find. Within the heart of all of us were planted these seeds, and we came forth to bring our expression of those truths. While I share in The Civil Graces Project my vision and meaning, each of the graces is to become yours. They are guides to help you find your way back to your core so you can connect with your purpose and all of life. These words are the dreams of millions before us, and it is our time to carry them into being through our actions in the world with Confidence. Just think for a moment how many thousands of ways we can show Hospitality and how it brought people together in the past. What appears to each of us through our Awareness when we think of these words in our lives? Generosity is a blessing that carries so much expression, depending on what life has offered you and what you give to life. The Civil Graces are ancient ideas that link us to each other and our dreams. It is going to take all of our dreams to make the world all it can be.
Take each grace and hold it. Feel the power of the words for which, over time, the meanings have shifted. I included an etymology for each of the graces to offer what it meant hundreds of years ago. But what does it mean for you when you say these words…Freedom, Humility, Respect, Justice, Vulnerability, Patience, and Perseverance? Use these words as guides. Give yourself time and space to reconnect to the dreams you have within you, and when you feel you are ready, reach out to others. Begin to explore them in the world around you. How do these words speak to someone else? Are there things you share in common?
Here’s the key. We all want to be unconditionally accepted and have a life that matters. When we open up to the common ground rather than the issues that separate us, we discover a wholeness that brings us together. It helps us find the treasures within…the dream we each carry. They point us in the direction of possibility and the beautiful world waiting for each of us.
Photo credit Edwin Williams Photography LLC at Chadds Peak Farm