Let the Dreamer Dream

Below is a poem I wrote a long time ago when I was in high school and aiming to be the very best female basketball player in the world (and I knew that if anybody knew that, they’d think I was crazy or at least cocky). Although I kept quiet about it and never let on just how high my sights were set, I was getting definite vibes from my mom and others that this obsession of mine was not good, not valuable, a waste of my time/energy when I could and should be spending it doing other things because a.) I didn’t have it in me to reach my pie-in-the-sky goal, and b.) even if I did, it wasn’t worth what I was putting into it.

When I got my own place in college, I wrote this poem in the closest thing to calligraphy I could do, framed it, and hung it in my bedroom. Friends who’ve seen it over the years have asked for copies of it. Several have had it done up in calligraphy themselves and now have it hanging in their offices or homes. So even though it’s not the greatest poetry, I know it resonates with like-minded people and it’s always meant a lot to me (it’s the only thing I’ve ever gone through the trouble of having copyrighted on my own).

This poem is for the Don Quixote in us all, the Leonardo Da Vinci, the Orville and Wilbur Wright, the Neil Armstrong, the Alexander Graham Bell, the Thomas Edison, the Martin Luther King, the Billie Jean King… and for all those kids out there, big and small, dreaming ‘impossible’ dreams. Whether or not they succeed in the world’s eyes.

Please… let the dreamer dream.
His plight is not as it may seem.
Laugh at his dreams, call them insane
      —wasted time, efforts in vane—
But he believes, unlike you,
And by believing, he will do.
To say, “One day I will fly,”
To go after a goal so high,
                              A man is exceptional in mind and heart,
                              Set from all other men apart,
                              Naïve and sadly mistaken,
                              Ignorant of the task undertaken.
Who can say which a man is?
The right to judge is solely his.
Better a fool left running about
Than a genius discouraged by doubt.
To save time and tears is kind intent
But the result will not be as you meant;
No, he’ll hold even tighter to it out of spite.
Criticism that’s undeserved and wrong
Sings an even sadder song.
For dreams are the things
                              that pull him from bed
And fuel his efforts
                              the day ahead.
Crushed and empty, his dreams taken,
Why should he ever what to awaken?
Please… let the dreamer dream.
His plight is not as it may seem.
Better to let him try, if only to fall,
Than not allow him to dream at all.
For success lies not in the prize
So much as in the exercise.
More important than any honor earned
Is the experience gained and the lesson learned.
While broken dreams die hard and sad,
Regret hurts twice as long and twice as bad.
One is the pain of growing,
The other, the pain of never knowing,
                           of never having tried,
                          of never being satisfied.
                                 ~Julie Polakowski