My dreams were never like most other girls my age. None of the Prince Charming swooping in on his white horse to rescue me, with marriage and children and happily ever after.
No, my dreams weren’t the norm.
For instance, every year when I made up my Christmas list, the first thing on it was a trip to Egypt and sailing down the Nile. Everyone laughed at that one. We grew up in the struggling middle class, and a trip to Egypt was as far afield as a man on the moon (this was before Neil Armstrong). But the Pyramids kept calling me; the camels, the women with their faces covered, the men in long robes sailing their feluccas, the temples bigger than anything I’d ever seen…
I would spend hours looking at the photographs in National Geographic or the World Book Encyclopedia (this was before Wikipedia), imagining myself walking amongst the ruins of the ancient civilization that was Egypt. My imagination soared even as everyone laughed when they read my list.
Egypt? Down the Nile? Never in a million years.
Until I set foot on Egyptian soil in the autumn of 2008. Dreams do come true if you believe. And I never gave up believing that I would someday visit the Land of the Pharoahs.
And my dream led into another sort of dream, this one held by some Egyptian university students whom we met while touring.
“Americans?” they asked in their accented English.
“Yes,” we answered with a hesitant smile.
“Obama…change,” they replied expectantly.
Even our tour guide told us about his dreams. “My friends and I watched every minute of your election coverage (more than I did), and when you elected an African American, we knew it wasn’t fixed,” he smiled. “We knew it was truly a vote of the people.”
Dreams are a wonderful thing. I was living my dream, and I was meeting people who held dreams that meant so much more than mine. Life-changing, country-changing, world-changing dreams. They humbled me.
And these were the Egyptian people whom I had the privilege to meet. The university students, ready to take part in change. The tour guide, certain with the knowledge that democracy does work. The schoolchildren, dressed in their uniforms, all smiling and saying, “Welcome to Egypt,” probably the only English that they knew. So many people we met couldn’t understand why we would travel across the world just to see their country.
But I knew why. It was the culmination of one of my dreams when I was but the age of the school children who welcomed me to their country. I wanted to immerse myself in their culture, and I took the opportunity and ran with it.
This isn’t a political post; this is a “go after your dreams” post, no matter what they may be. The Egyptian people did, in the Arab Spring. I did, in trotting across the globe.
While there, I got to visit the places I’d only ever dreamed of – the Pyramids, the Sphinx, Deir el-Bahri, Dundara, Luxor, Abu Simbel, Kom Ombo, Philae, Karnak, and so many more.
Exotic. Awe-inspiring. Mouth-dropping. Humbling. But no more so than Egypt’s people.
So hold on to what dreams may come, regardless of how futile they may seem, or how amusing they may be to others, or how far-reaching they may appear.
Dreams are necessary to life.
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud
was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
~ Anais Nin ~