Big and Bold, soft and quiet

Photo Credit: Angie McMonigal Photography
Photo Credit: Angie McMonigal Photography

A few weeks ago, I got together with a couple of girlfriends for a weekend of relaxation, creativity, and friendship. After the typical chit-chat and talk about work and children and families, the conversation eventually turned to the topic of dreams. Not the what-goes-on-in-your-head-while-you-sleep kind, but the what-goes-on-in-your-heart kind.

As I talked about some of my Big and Bold Dreams – things like publishing books and traveling around the world – I realized that my earliest dreams, my truest dreams didn’t seem all that big or bold at all. In fact, they seemed kind of uninteresting and rather basic. If I am really being honest, when I strip away all of the glitz and glamor that comes with the typical “dreams talk,” my most heartfelt dreams are really quite simple, more like Soft and Quiet Dreams than Big and Bold Dreams. Things like becoming a mother and raising a happy family, sustaining a loving marriage, creating a comfortable home, maintaining healthy relationships with extended family, enjoying a handful of enduring friendships.

While I think that it is an amazing privilege that we are able to talk about Big and Bold Dreams, and then to actually work toward achieving those dreams, I can’t help but notice that all too often, it seems, that when we talk about hopes and dreams, we forget about all of the less-flashy and somewhat boring dreams that we have – dreams that we hold so close and inseparable from our core that they almost don’t seem like dreams at all.

As children, our dreams are often very big and very bold. We dream of becoming an astronaut or an actress or a major league baseball player, of being a President in the White House or a princess in a castle or a knight fighting dragons. Then, as we grow up, our dreams start to look a little more pragmatic and maybe a little more fiscally-focused. Things like winning the lottery or owning a four-star restaurant, publishing a bestseller or seeing our photo on the cover of TIME Magazine, driving a fancy car or buying a big house with an ocean view.

So often, we think of dreams as these big and bold accomplishments, as once-in-a-lifetime moments, or as flashy, look-at-me kind of successes. But what about the dreams that we live and feel each day? What about the dreams that aren’t necessarily accomplishments or successes, but look more like happinesses and joys and quiet contentments? What about our dreams that have already come true?

What I am realizing is that there seems to be this tendency to focus on our Big and Bold Dreams to the exclusion of our Soft and Quiet Dreams – the ones that have already come true and that we live each day in a rather ordinary and not-at-all-flashy kind of way.

The thing is, I think that we need both kinds of dreams, the Big and Bold Dreams and the Soft and Quiet Dreams. We need dreams so big and so bold that they excite us and scare us and push us to change and grow and progress. But we also need dreams so natural and so genuine that they calm us and connect us and fill us with a deep sense of purpose and contentment. Because hope might lie in dreams, but joy lies in all those dreams that have already come true.

So let’s dream those Big and Bold Dreams, the brave dreams and the glittery dreams that stretch the imagination and make us come alive. Let’s share those Big and Bold Dreams, and let’s put our hope in those Big and Bold Dreams.

But let’s also honor our Soft and Quiet Dreams, the gentle dreams and the humble dreams that hold us close and make us feel alive. Let’s acknowledge those Soft and Quiet Dreams, and let’s rest for a while in those Soft and Quiet Dreams. Though they might not be flashy or seem all that exciting, they are the ones strong enough to hold up all those Big and Bold Dreams after all.

What are some of your Big and Bold Dreams? What about your Soft and Quiet Dreams?

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This post is part of the weekly Photo Inspiration Challenge.  Special thanks to Angie McMonigal Photography for her photos. Make sure to visit her website or facebook page. Her work is both stunning and inspirational.

5 Comments

  • Oh, I love this. In our common discourse these days it feels like “dreams” have to be big and bold, as you say – change the world, publish a book, etc. But I think you’re right to call out the “soft and quiet” dreams too, the ones which may already have come to fruition – there is such texture to them, and they are just as important (more so?). Thank you. xox

    • Thanks, Lindsey! I’m definitely trying to pay more attention to my soft and quiet dreams, while still working toward the big ones. It’s a tough balance sometimes, but I’m finding that it helps me keep a bit of perspective when things don’t go the way I hope.

  • Some of my “big and bold” dreams have come true: I’ve been published multiple times (nothing remotely book length and at minor magazines, but I’ve been published nevertheless) and I’ve moved back to Germany. So many of my other dreams would be “soft and quiet” to others, but seems completely out-of-reach for me: close, healthy, and local friendships; living independently or as an equally contributing member of a couple; advance playing skills of a musical instrument (flute is ruled out, but there’s still a chance I can keep playing recorder) and being able to perform said instrument both solo and as part of an ensemble (okay, that might be “big and bold,” but I’m referring more to local recitals than world-wide fame); and – most of all, not only for its own sake but because it is a prerequisite of my other dreams – health (including psychological health as well as other areas of physical health).

    Oh, I’d also like to be good at my mother tongue (German) in addition to my second language (English). The latter I have down, I just need to make sure I don’t lose it. The former may come with time and practice.

    • Thank you so much for sharing your big and quiet dreams, Martin. Best of luck to you as you work toward them. Congrats on all of the dreams that have already come true – and continue to come true along the way.

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