You Have A Dream. So What?

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It’s 2007. Bare feet plot a course across plywood floors, laid with my own hands, to the the front of the Hell’s Kitchen yoga studio. A massive picture window overlooks the avenue, glowing with late-day sun that pours into the room, warming my back as I ease onto the teacher’s mat.


Forty bodies, from all walks of humanity, follow suit. A 60-something breast-cancer survivor with a shock of silver hair who’s shared this space hundreds of times. A young dancer, vying for a shot at Broadway. Next to her, a surprisingly stretchy bond trader finds his seat, criss-cross-apple-sauce.

“Eyes closed,” I offer to the room.

Lids slide shut. We sit together in silence as all comers ease into their breath, preparing the space for many to become one. The room begins to rise and fall, a growing haze of collective exhales coats the massive slab of glass that protects us from the elements. Winter’s chill upon the outer pane gathers sweat into tears that weep jaggedly down the great divide.

A soft hush of applause makes its way into the silence, growing louder. The voices of hundreds of thousands, far in the distance. Effervescent as the unmistakable words of Martin Luther King, Jr. float into the crowd and find their way through speakers in this room of practice and connection and reflection.

It’s Martin Luther King, Jr. day. And as I’ve done each prior MLK day since 2001, I turn the opening meditation over to King.

We begin at the famed “I have a dream.” sequence, which I’ve since learned was largely improvised.

These words. Chills. I’m near tears every time I hear them.

But it’s not Dr. King’s dream that moves me, it’s the action it inspired. The raw power and possibility. The impact of moving beyond the dream and making manifest your vision in the world.

This place, where we sit, I realize is just that.

It exists not because I had a dream, but because I did something about it. That doesn’t make me in any way special. But I’ve come to realize it does make me different.

Everyone “has a dream.”

So what.

Dream’s are worthless without action. Even worse.

Dreams denied cause more suffering than good.

Nobody gives a damn about your dream.

People want to see what you’ll DO in the name of it.

How do we honor Dr. King on this day?

Don’t just have a dream. Live it.

Rise up to claim it. Breathe life into it.

Turn aspiration into perspiration and realization.

So, you have a dream. Who cares?

What will do you do with that dream?

And when will you begin?

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16 responses

16 responses to “You Have A Dream. So What?”

  1. Vi Brown says:

    Thanks for sharing this content today! It is one of the more stimulating pieces that I have read this a.m. in honor of the late Dr. King. It is also a reminder that dreams without thought and activity behind them are just that – dreams!

  2. Yes. I have a dream. And I’ve been putting it out there for the past 8 years via entertainment, keynote speaking and coaching. Yes, I am a woman of action.

    It’s all about this topic, especially concerning women, helping them voice the dream, then stepping through fear to do it…owning their own spotlight, and making it happen in the world, and doing it via pleasure and fun!

    I have written/produced/performed my solo show…Hot Mama Mahatma…a comedy about what actually happened on my spiritual journey to India, then a separate pilot script which got some accolades from Emmy winning writers/directors (and I even got it to the CEO of Showtime), and now The Goddess Revue, The Journey of Turned On Women, which has played to sold out audiences at the Metropolitan Room in NYC! It is playing again on March 9th.

    And this Spring I am doing a webinar for Hay House on this very topic.

    What’s intriguing is that while I’m working to empower women, men have also gotten the deeper messages under the fun stuff. Yes, the action is essential, but also is the quiet time, the guidance for the next step, and then the courage to take it. Here’s to you, Jonathan, for modeling all this. Your shows empower me to keep going.

  3. Ian Robinson says:

    “We refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt!”

    Chilling. Thanks for brining attention to this.

  4. Ada says:

    Man, I know your hearts in the right place but by I think you get the underlying message of this speech so wrong that it bears comment.

    You would like to extend kings metaphor into the realm of personal development and fulfillment when really the very point of the speech is to harness collective political action. King says “I” have a dream but then harnesses his considerable oratorical in service of getting everyone to dream that one specific dream with him — essentially, if we all get on the same page we can realize this incredibly daunting and hard task of social equality.

    I know — you want to extend the metaphor but I think it’s important for you to understand why the distinction is so important and why it is precisely because King was NOT saying (like you) “we all have dreams and now we just need to work hard on them” that he made such a impact on history. In this case, a personal empowerment message is almost certainly at odds with his exhortation for collective action. Many people in the civil rights movement certainly sacrificed personal dreams and self-fulfillment in service of this goal. Other people before King had the same dream and also worked hard but it took his talents and skills to bring people together to dream one dream en masse.

  5. Absolutely beautiful post to read first thing this morning. I completely absorbed the moment of meditation over King’s speech, the energy is amazing.
    You are right, so many dreams remain just that, and action is the only way – thank you for the inspiring reminder.

  6. His dream was for others, not himself. He was willing to do anything to achieve his dream. Even death was not too high a price to pay. That’s the level of selflessness and commitment that it takes to create a true revolution in this world.

  7. Kat says:

    First – I have to extend my deep gratitude to you for posting this remarkable speech. No matter how many times I hear it – I still get chills.

    My dream is actually quite similar to the words that Dr. King spoke. I want to raise my son in a world where he is not judge the color of his skin but by his character. I believe that our country is slowly moving forward in that direction however there is still alot to be done.

    What am I doing about my dream? The most important thing that I have to do is instill in my son the knowledge that in order to succeed anywhere you have to have the core three values of “self” – (self love, self respect and self esteem)! If you don’t have these basic principles down, there is no way you can open yourself up honestly and fully to have a frank discourse.

    I find it oddly ironic that during the very time we have an African American President – our country seems to be more divided than ever. There is so much anger and tension today. Personally I believe it’s because there is a serious lack of communication within this country because we’re so busy trying to be politically correct that noone wants to deal with the real issues at hand. Whether it’s about classism, racism or sexism – it’s time to stop acting like everything is o.k. and start working to make it o.k.

    I don’t want my child or any other child to end up like Travon Martin or to have to watch my friend, brother or loved one ostricised because he took a life based out of fear.

    Communication is just the start of what this country needs – open, honest, thought provoking dialogue. Hopefully one day we will be able to sit down and truly cast a light on all of those fears, assumptions, and misconceptions that rule us daily. Maybe then as a country we will take the necessary steps to move forward together in true unity and harmony.

    That’s my dream.

  8. Nick Brown says:

    Thanks for sharing this Jonathan. It’s one of the most pivotal moments in the history of the United States and touching moments in the history of mankind.

  9. Adaeze Diana says:

    Thank you for this Jonathan! I’ve been thinking quite a bit about Dr. King and Nelson Mandela lately and the popularity they garnered.

    In my opinion, people love to applaud Dr. King and his “I Have a Dream” speech but a lot of folks do not understand the message he was sending.

    Like you said, it does not stop at the dream. Dr. King did not want anyone to ever stop at the dream. He didn’t. He kept working and toiling, ’til the day he died. He wanted others who shared the same belief to also take steps and make plans to bring that dream to life. That is what we are all supposed to do with our own dreams and visions – bring them to life.

    What especially saddens me is the level of praise people give men like Dr. King and Mandela yet a good chunk of folks have no desire to emulate the lives these men led. They embodied courage, love, gratitude, generosity, humility, and forgiveness. How can people call such men their “heroes” yet have no desire to live as they did? It does not add up.

  10. Hearing this today and reading your post was good. Not only for this day, but for the beginning of a “new” year. Thank you for sharing it with us. Just like potential, it, in and of itself doesn’t do anything at all. It is what we do with it that counts.

  11. “Nobody gives a damn about your dream. People want to see what you’ll DO in the name of it.”

    That’s the problem with dreams. SO many people stay in the comfort of their nice warm bed, instead of waking up, rolling out, and DOING something about them. Dreaming is safe. DOING is scary – and usually well worth it in the end. 🙂

  12. What about allowing yourself to have a dream to begin with? How many out there forgot what this whole dreaming thing is all about.

    Maybe action starts with allowing yourself to get to the core of what you want, what your soul craves to create in this world. Asking questions, gaining clarity. Once you became aware of the dream, gained clarity on that thing that is dying to be born through you, action will be easier. Not completely effortless, of course. But much easier.

    First time commenting here. I appreciate your work, Jonathan. You inspire me.

  13. Inspired. Thank you♥

  14. Scott Asai says:

    Actions speak louder than words. Let’s be more like Nike and Just Do It! It’s a big reason why I chose to be a coach: to help others turn aspiration into achievement. Dreams are sexy, but actions are what create results!

  15. I have a dream… to help others attain their dreams… to take people out of “wishing” and “striving” into “doing” and “being.” It requires that I do and be as well. To lead by example. That is what Dr. King did. That’s what you do Jonathan. Thank you for this post.

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