8 March 2023
The art of dreaming cannot become extinct. It is, however, being squeezed into the recesses of our collective lives through busyness, unbridled ambition, the relentless pursuit of one-upmanship, and a paralysing concern for our futures.
I find, as a South African in the business of growing young people, that the sacred art of dreaming is expunged and even frowned upon, especially when we are faced with the multiple challenges of living amidst the current headwinds.
A stressed body and mind can cause a number of health issues, highest among those affecting young people may well be anxiety. Young people are caught in this downward spiral of angst and heightened concern, often as a result of a set of expectations that are either placed on them or to which they subscribe unwittingly.
As an unqualified commentator on the medical condition of anxiety and its related symptoms, it is unwise of me to pass any judgment – my opinion is merely observatory.
I see many young people paralysed by worry; fearful of their next; haunted by the prospect of the complexities of life. And I dare to suggest that we, the adults, so easily fuel this state of being.
Finding ways to combat this barrage of unhealthy expectations is no easy task. Part of the solution may lie in establishing a strong sense of self in every individual; a sense of self that is unattached from achievement and grounded in personal value. A sense of self built through the practise of adults conveying unconditional love, and of encouraging so-called soft skills that are devoid of hard metrics.
Pursuing and finding a value system that engenders and celebrates personal characteristics of love, care and compassion must take centre stage. Sadly, so much of what we are commonly led to believe holds the most value is linked directly to accolades and an often-narrow honours board of achievement.
The art of dreaming is an escape. It affords one the freedom of wonder, of imagining “what-if” scenarios, of pondering a world without limits, of conjuring up beautiful tomorrows filled with life and possibility.
Our classrooms, and hence our schools, may not sink into factories of constraint. But it is so easy for them to do so.
The solutions for our myriad problems both nationally and internationally are lying dormant in the minds of our children. Disruptive technologies and innovative ideas flood the minds of our youth. We kill this creativity at our peril. Our task is to encourage reading as this develops curiosity and imagination, more so than other forms of media; to ensure focused time for wonder – when there’s nothing to be achieved but to ponder; to support and nurture the raw, unbridled, weird ideas of your children.
Elon Musk sat in class in my matric year. He was always a dreamer… perhaps I could have paid more attention!