"A Child Without Dreams"
I never had dreams as a child, a teenager, or as a young adult. Until 2010, I had never sat in a room and heard people talk about their dreams for the future.
I did not come from a loving, nurturing family. ‘Motherf***er, you little ugly mother***er.’ I could go on telling you how I was spoken to as a child but the words will remain the same.
There was no one in my life who could have talked to me about dreaming about my future. As I got older, my inner pains turned to anger and that anger turned to rage.
In 2006, I got serious about education and just before I got my GED in 2008, I started dreaming about my future -- at the age of 41. That was the first time I had ever had a dream about my future.
In 2010, I was part of an undergraduate Inside Out college class ... This class had seven young students from Vanderbilt University, two from American Baptist College (an African American college), and ten inmates. We referred to ourselves as insiders and outsiders.
This day our opening circle was to tell the class what you dreamed of being when you grew up. The first person spoke and, always going to the left, the next person spoke, and so on. It got to me and I had to tell the class that I never had a dream of becoming anything in my life. My childhood was spent wanting my parents to love me, crying because I was hungry, or crying because one of them had hurt me and my feelings. At the age of 13 my mother tried to beat me to death. Those years were spent learning how to fight so I would never have to endure another beating like that by anyone.
Dream? I could not dream; my pain had turned to anger, and in my twenties that anger turned to rage. I could not dream because I chased death. Knowing what I know today, the only reason I did not die is because God would not let death take me.
That class was the first time in my life I had ever been around people talking about what they dreamed would happen for them in life. What they wanted to do when they were done with school. I lived each day of life surviving. Dream? How could a human being like me dream when no one ever trained me how to use my mind to think? I was so impressed with these young people from the outside and the dreams they had for their future.
Even though I had that first dream in 2008, I like to think these young people gave me permission to dream. After our class was over that night and the outsiders were gone, I lay in that cell and went to that place I always tried to stay away from since being introduced to education: the place of what if. What if someone would have helped me with education when I was young? What if I would have known how to think and dream? What if I could have experienced the love that was so obvious in those young people’s conversation? The love from family and friends that allowed them to dream. What if I had a dream? ‘What if’ is a painful place to be!
Today, in 2013, at the age of 45, I dream. I dream of telling young people about the dreams I never had and why it’s important for them to dream. And hopefully I can keep them away from that place called ‘what if.’
Today I do wish someone would have taught that child, that teenager, that young man in his twenties to dream. Who knows? Maybe my life would have been different.
Dreams! So important for the future of our children. I know this from experience. Now I dream.
|Photo copied from Manny Olalia Quemel's Facebook page