Castles in the Air

castle blog

If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.   ~Henry David Thoreau

I sometimes feel like my dreams are “castles in the air.” Am I dreaming too big? Should I come back down to earth? As Thoreau so beautifully expressed in the quote above, I believe we should dream big, and that if we begin to build a foundation through action to support our dreams, we may very well achieve them.

For example, if you want to write a book, you need only sit down today and begin. Write one page, or the first paragraph. Each day is all we have. Planning is helpful, but action is everything.

Last week, 6o Minutes featured a children’s orchestra from a small town in Paraguay that was built around a garbage dump. A man in the town had a big dream; he wanted to give children a better life and teach them to play musical instruments like the violin and the cello. But with the extreme poverty of the village, his dream appeared impossible. Amazingly, he went to a laborer and asked him to create musical instruments from the abundance of trash surrounding the village. This man had never made a musical instrument before, but nevertheless, he used templates and made the instruments with cardboard, cans, discarded pieces of wire, broken hairbrushes and thrown-out shoes. And they worked. And the children were taught to play classical orchestra music. It was astoundingly beautiful. And inspiring.

Of course, the instruments were not beautiful in the same way expertly crafted musical instruments are, with finely polished woods, shiny brass, and silver alloy. But they were more precious than any I’ve ever seen. In the same way, our dreams may not turn out exactly as we imagined. Our castle may be propped up and patched, but at least it exists, if we’ve done more than dream.

In the end, our makeshift castle may suit us better than the one we set out to build. The “landfill orchestra” was eventually discovered after many years of hard work and training. The children and their ramshackle instruments now travel and perform to audiences all over the world. If some wealthy benefactor had donated real musical instruments to the program in its inception, they would have been like any other children’s orchestra. But now they have a story of triumph. Like a patchwork quilt that is treasured more than any fine linen.

I hope this inspires you to dream big, and start building, one step at a time!


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