Sunday, 10 February 2013

What happens to a dream deferred?

Below is an essay based on this poem
A dream deferred by Langston Hughes

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?

The poem fans within me, the flames of courage, determination and perseverance. Giving birth to a genuine and deep desire for self-actualization, and thus leading to the betterment of the community I represent and Zimbabwe at large

I grew up with a deep passion and love for the game of soccer and I had vivid dreams of being a soccer legend one day. It’s funny however, how life sometimes has other things awaiting us in our future and how we would witness our very deeply cherished dreams crumble right in front of our eyes. My hope and ambition were shattered the moment the doctors delivered the unexpected and unwelcome news that I had cancer which meant they had to amputate my left leg. This piece of news would alter the whole course of my destiny; it was an experience that pushed me to cower in a corner, as all hope had been lost, at least it seemed so.

Having your dreams shattered right in your face is not an easy experience for anyone, especially when you are young like I was. In relation to Langston Hughes’ a dream deferred my life took a dip which one would draw parallels to the drying of a raisin in the sun. That was not entirely the case though, for what seemed like a dream lost was a cue to a new path to be followed. I didn't stop envisioning myself doing something great, as most people expect to be the case with young people living with a disability. I realized, I might not be able to play soccer for Zimbabwe as I always wished and dreamt, but that was not going be to the full stop to the story of my life. I kept the faith alive and I never sold my ability to dream and look at me today, now I play wheelchair basketball for my country. It might not still be soccer as I had in my dream, but I still get to show my patriotism to my motherland and to also express my individuality and character in the sport.

This poem helped me to reflect on my life, and not only my life but the life of many other young people living within the same circumstances and with a disability. It helped me realize the importance of perseverance and courage in picking oneself up and dream afresh when the dream seems to be lost or snatched away. It is one thing to dream, but having a dream with a purpose is essential in propelling one into making positive steps that lead to the fruition of that dream.

I, for one could have been a bitter person for everything that happened in my life; the aftermath of the shattering of my dreams could have made me wallow in self-pity and negativity. Having a dream differed meant that I could not only work towards the achievement of my dream, but I could now envision myself doing something that fulfilled a purpose that I now had. I may be tempted to dwell on what could have been but now I have to reconstruct a vision of being an epitome of what it is to excel being a member in the disabled community of Zimbabwe

Langston Hughes gives insight through the series of questions that one may also ask oneself as to what happens to them when a dream has been differed. In my own understanding I believe it is the most perfect and opportune moment to dream bigger and better or in my case dream another dream and achieve it. At one moment I was dejected from all the experiences, discrimination and segregation from my society, but I realised that their ignorance and parochial attitudes, presented me with the rare chance of harnessing my attitude and determination in taking me places they could never imagine. It stands true today that my achievements have overtaken and overshadowed most people’s expectations of me and every child living with disability in my community.

Through this poem in relation to my personal experiences I have realized that perseverance is the impetus of determination and determination is the impetus of self-actualization, which all  can be likened to the imagery of a dream once deferred but re envisioned. The betterment of a community is based on individuals with intrinsic motivation which propels the community to greater heights as evidenced by the uplifting of the young persons with disabilities through exemplary individuals thus leading to the improvement of the status quo vis-à-vis young people with disability in Zimbabwe.

Therefore I can share the knowledge and experience I have gained from some of my most painful and life changing moments; a dream deferred is not a dream lost. Helen Keller once said "what's worse is not being blind but it’s having sight without a vision," in my case to have a dream derailed is to have an empowered vision to achieve much bigger than the dream before. Always dream but don't dwell on a dream that's not worth hanging onto. Helen's statement seeks to guide and reaffirm one's ambition which goes along perfectly well with Langston Hughes' poem, a dream deferred which provides no prospect for cowardice and giving up on a dream that seems to have been derailed from the course of action.
Written by Honourable Junior Minister of Zimbabwe Junior Parliament Munyaradzi Mahiya, who is living with a disability and is an advocate for people living with disability
Edited by Glen Dhliwayo

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