Dreams are mysterious and fascinating, often interpreted as a way of understanding hidden aspects of ourselves. They can be both beautiful and frightening, confusing and enlightening. Dreams can inspire action or, if they are nightmares, freeze us. It’s often a challenge to turn dreams into vision, vision into goals, goals into plans, and then plans into action. These words of wisdom from a variety of thinkers cover many different perspectives on dreams, dreaming, and dreamers.

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This is a call to the living,
To those who refuse to make peace with evil,
With the suffering and the waste of the world. This is a call to the human, not the perfect,
To those who know their own prejudices,
Who have no intention of becoming prisoners of their own limitations. This is a call to those who remember the dreams of their youth,
Who know what it means to share food and shelter,
The care of children and those who are troubled,
To reach beyond barriers of the past
Bringing people to communion. This is a call to the never ending spirit
Of the common man, his essential decency and integrity,
His unending capacity to suffer and endure,
To face death and destruction and to rise again
And build from the ruins of life. This is the greatest call of all
The call to a faith in people.

— Algernon Black

Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back: a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country.

— Anaïs Nin

To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.

— Anatole France

Never surrender your hopes and dreams to the fateful limitations others have placed on their own lives.

— Anthon St. Maarten

There are those who will say that the liberation of humanity, the freedom of man and mind, is nothing but a dream. They are right. It is the American dream.

— Archibald MacLeish

A Humanist Code of Ethics:
Do no harm to the earth, she is your mother.
Being is more important than having.
Never promote yourself at another’s expense.
Hold life sacred; treat it with reverence.
Allow each person the digity of his or her labor.
Open your home to the wayfarer.
Be ready to receive your deepest dreams;
sometimes they are the speech of unblighted conscience.
Always make restitutions to the ones you have harmed.
Never think less of yourself than you are.
Never think that you are more than another.

— Arthur Dobrin

The only dream worth having is to dream that you will live while you are alive, and die only when you are dead.

— Arundhati Roy

Sometimes we drug ourselves with dreams of new ideas. The head will save us. The brain alone will set us free. But there are no new ideas waiting in the wings to save us as women, as human. There are only old and forgotten ones, new combinations, extrapolations and recognitions from within ourselves — along with the renewed courage to try them out.

— Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches, 1984

Poetry is not only dream and vision; it is the skeleton architecture of our lives. It lays the foundations for a future of change, a bridge across our fears of what has never been before.

— Audre Lorde

We must carry forward the work of the women who came before us and ensure our daughters have no limits on their dreams, no obstacles to their achievements, and no remaining ceilings to shatter.

— Barack Obama

Do you know the relation of time to this little life of ours? We have only the present moment; your consciousness of that is your existence. Your knowledge of each present moment as it passes—and it passes so swiftly that each word I speak now overlaps it—yet it is all we have. For all the rest, for what has gone by and what is yet coming—that has no real existence; it is all a dream. It is not alive. It is not! It is—nothing!

— Booth Tarkington, The Guest of Quesnay

Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.

— Buddha

Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside dreams; who looks inside awakens.

— Carl Jung

Whenever we touch nature, we get clean. People who have got dirty, through too much civilization take a walk in the woods, or a bath in the sea. Entering the unconscious, entering yourself through dreams, is touching nature from the inside, and this is the same thing; things are put right again.

— Carl Jung

Nothing happens unless first we dream.

— Carl Sandburg

Let’s be realists, let’s dream the impossible.

— Che Guevara

Do not look back. And do not dream about the future, either. It will neither give you back the past, nor satisfy your other daydreams. Your duty, your reward—your destiny—are here and now.

— Dag Hammarskjöld

You wake from dreams of doom and–for a moment–you know: beyond all the noise and the gestures, the only real thing, love’s calm unwavering flame in the half-light of an early dawn.

— Dag Hammarskjöld

Dreams are renewable. No matter what our age or condition, there are still untapped possibilities within us and new beauty waiting to be born.

— Dale Turner

Dream the dreams that have never been dreamt.

— David Bower

He was a dreamer, a thinker, a speculative philosopher… or, as his wife would have it, an idiot.

— Douglas Adams

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.

— Eleanor Roosevelt

It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else.

— Erma Bombeck

They are not long, the weeping and the laughter,
Love and desire and hate:
I think they have no portion in us after
We pass the gate.
They are not long, the days of wine and roses;
Out of a misty dream
Our path emerges for a while, then closes
Within a dream.

— Ernest Dowson

If you don’t know the guy on the other side of the world, love him anyway because he’s just like you. He has the same dreams, the same hopes and fears. It’s one world, pal. We’re all neighbors.

— Frank Sinatra

Keep true to the dreams of thy youth.

— Friedrich Schiller

Dare to err and to dream. Deep meaning often lies in childish play.

— Friedrich Schiller

Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine, and at last, you create what you will.

— George Bernard Shaw

Some see things as they are and say, ‘Why?’ I dream of things that never were and say, ‘Why not?’

— George Bernard Shaw, paraphrase of Shaw, often attributed to Robert F. (Bobby) Kennedy, who used it in a speech which his brother, Edward F. (Teddy) Kennedy quoted at RFK’s funeral

You see things; and you say, ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say, ‘Why not?’

— George Bernard Shaw

Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.

— Gloria Steinem

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

— H. Jackson Brown Jr., attributed to his mother Sarah Frances Brown

Democracy is only a dream: it should be put in the same category as Arcadia, Santa Claus, and Heaven.

— H. L. Mencken

When all your desires are distilled
You will cast just two votes:
To love more,
And be happy.

— Hafiz of Persia

Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.

— Harriet Tubman

Remembering is a dream that comes in waves.

— Helga Sandbur

Let go of the past and go for the future. Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you imagined.

— Henry David Thoreau

I have learned, that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.

— Henry David Thoreau

Do not look back on happiness or dream of it in the future. You are only sure of today; do not let yourself be cheated out of it.

— Henry Ward Beecher

In life, many thoughts are born in the course of a moment, an hour, a day. Some are dreams, some visions. Often, we are unable to distinguish between them. To some, they are the same; however, not all dreams are visions. Much energy is lost in fanciful dreams that never bear fruit. But visions are messages from the Great Spirit, each for a different purpose in life. Consequently, one person’s vision may not be that of another. To have a vision, one must be prepared to receive it, and when it comes, to accept it. Thus when these inner urges become reality, only then can visions be fulfilled. The spiritual side of life knows everyone’s heart and who to trust. How could a vision ever be given to someone to harbor if that person could not be trusted to carry it out. The message is simple: commitment precedes vision.

— High Eagle

Look well to the growing edge! All around us worlds are dying and new worlds are being born; all around us life is dying and life is being born. The fruit ripens on the tree, the roots are silently at work in the darkness of the earth against a time when there shall be new leaves, fresh blossoms, green fruit. Such is the growing edge! It is the extra breath from the exhausted lung, the one more thing to try when all else has failed, the upward reach of life when weariness closes in upon all endeavor. This is the basis of hope in moments of despair, the incentive to carry on when times are out of joint and men have lost their reason, the source of confidence when worlds crash and dreams whiten into ash. The birth of the child — life’s most dramatic answer to death — this is the growing edge incarnate. Look well to the growing edge!

— Howard Thurman

It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.

— J. K. Rowling

A single dream is more powerful than a thousand realities.

— J.R.R. Tolkien

Dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die today.

— James Dean

Insights from myth, dreams, and intuitions, from glimpses of an invisible reality, and from perennial human wisdom provide us with hints and guesses about the meaning of life and what we are here for. Prayer, observance, discipline, thought and action are the means through which we grow and find meaning.

— Jean Shinoda Bolen

Dreams are guests who ensoul our lives if we have hospitality for them.

— Jeannine Parvati Baker

Out of this darkness a new world can arise, not to be constructed by our minds so much as to emerge from our dreams. Even though we cannot see clearly how it’s going to turn out, we are still called to let the future into our imagination. We will never be able to build what we have not first cherished in our hearts.

— Joanna Macy

The moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising to one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance. Whatever you can do or dream you can begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.

— Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need men who can dream of things that never were.

— John F. Kennedy

Imagine all the people living life in peace. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will live as one.

— John Lennon
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