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Dreaming Small

By Hannah Reich Berman

The study of dreams is a fascinating one. But dreams come in all forms. Some dreams are “sleep dreams” and others are “wishing dreams”—things that we wish for while we are wide awake. People come in all forms, too. Some folks have dreams that never materialize. The reason is usually that they sit back and hope that their dreams will magically become a reality. They think it will just happen, like spontaneous combustion. Other dreamers are proactive. These are the folks who ignite the spark that starts the fire. They see to it that their dreams are realized.

Some people dream of being rich, owning a beautiful home and driving a fancy car, while others dream of being powerful. Some folks have more lofty goals. They dream about “making a difference” in this world. They want to champion human rights and to enable the disenfranchised. Dreams like those often lead the dreamer into the field of politics. There are other types of dreamers. The star-struck among us dream of being entertainers—Hollywood stars, Broadway actors, singers, dancers, and the like. And they work hard at it.

Then there are those who dream smaller. That would be my category. For me, attaining fame, power, or riches has never been a high priority. If my home is comfortable and I can afford to live in it, I’m satisfied. If my car gets me where I want to go, it’s good enough. While I wouldn’t be enthused about driving a beat-up, broken-down wreck of a car, I don’t need anything fancy. This is not to say that I don’t have any dreams at all. It is my dream and my desire that my loved ones and I have good health and happiness. I want my family and friends to stay safe. It is my dream that each of them be able to adequately provide for his or her family and that they all live meaningful lives. And what is a dream if not a wish?

I have a wish list. I wish I could eat cake and not gain weight. (Recent news that the Drake’s products, which have been AWOL over the past few years, are once again available was an answer to another of my wishes. Unfortunately it is also a tease because, while I would kill for a Devil Dog, I wouldn’t dare buy one.)

My wish list goes beyond food. I have always wished for a good singing voice! And I have dreamt about how nice it would be to have one. But I will never know. Regardless of how much I wish it or how hard I try to improve, it will never happen. It’s been more than 50 years and I still haven’t forgotten the moment when my high-school choral director said she would allow me onstage during a performance only if I promised to move my lips but never to let a sound escape. Clearly, singing was never in my future.

That director wasn’t the only one who has tried to silence me. When my children were young and would hear me singing, they had two responses. The first was to stare at me in astonishment. The second was to audibly moan and groan. Never before (and probably never since) had they heard anyone so off-key. I give new meaning to the words tone deaf! And my strongest memory is always of Sukkot. That’s because, many years ago, when my family and I were in a very small sukkah, nobody hesitated to let me know how bad my singing was. After the meal, when the zemiros began, I forgot myself and chimed in.

Seated, as I was, between two of my daughters, I suddenly sensed that both of them were looking at me. I felt the looks rather than saw them—and my sense had not failed me. Both girls were, in fact, looking at me and both were wide-eyed with astonishment. They could not believe that anyone could sing that badly. One daughter just shook her head and covered her ear (the ear closest to me), and my other daughter said, “Ma, are you singing like that on purpose? You are! Right?”

It didn’t warrant a response and I didn’t have the heart to tell her that this was the best I could do. When I occasionally sang in the shower, Hubby would knock on the door and inform me that if I kept it up the water would turn off in protest. So much for my dream of ever being able to sing!

But of all the hopes, wishes, and dreams that I harbor, there are some things I would never consider. Recently a 64-year-old woman, Dianna Nyad, realized her long-held dream to swim from Cuba to Florida. For years she did strength-training exercises, kept herself in tip-top shape, and swam ten hours a day. And this past summer, on her fifth and final attempt, she succeeded. During previous attempts she had been stung all over her body by jellyfish, endured searing shoulder pain, and even suffered an asthma attack and had to be pulled from the water, gasping for air. But she did not give up!

And those hardships are only part of the tale. The most astonishing challenge she faced was that the water route she traversed was filled with sharks. The woman was not in a sharkproof cage but swam knowing they were in the water. Nyad had a team of people who shared her dream. Divers on the team periodically dove down to make sure there were no man-eaters in the vicinity. The list of hardships, and the risks she willingly took, is endless. And this she calls a dream? I call it insanity. If I thought there was a shark in the water, I wouldn’t stand within 20 feet of the shoreline. Apparently I’m not a true dreamer.

It must be terrific to have a dream so strong that one will endure any hardship, and take any risk, to achieve it. So, maybe the loss is mine. I have thought about that. But then I decided that I prefer the loss of a dream to the loss of a limb. That’s the way it is. v

Hannah Berman lives in Woodmere and is a licensed real-estate broker associated with Marjorie Hausman Realty. She can be reached at or 516-902-3733.

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Posted by on October 17, 2013. Filed under In This Week's Edition. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.