It's January and my dreams are back with a vengeance. No, I'm not talking about the dreams that occur in our sleep - Marybeth dreams in 3-D clarity almost every night, which leaves me with a bit of dream-envy, since I can never remember anything once I close my eyes and pass out into the abyss of nothingness.
But I'm not talking about those kinds of dreams. I'm talking about the kinds of dreams that give us something to strive for, to pin our hopes and aspirations to. Call them goals, resolutions, or notes on a sheet of paper - anything that gets the imagination jumping, the heart thumping and gets you motivated to put an idea, however simple, however crazy, into action.
There's just something dream inducing about this time of year. Yes, it's January and the snow and cold is still all around us, but the sun is making an appearance a couple minutes earlier and sticking around a couple minutes longer every day, which has got me dreaming about the coming spring.
Call me crazy, but there's something about cold sunshine dancing on the frozen tundra that gets my dream factory percolating. And when I go into the dream zone, like I did the other day, I grab the running shoes and Browns cap and head out the door for a run.
When I go out for a run I have a general idea about how long I'll be gone. But as much as Marybeth tries to pin me down to a time, even she knows that there's more than a 50-50 chance that I'll be calling from some place out in the Ohio hinterlands and sheepishly requesting a courtesy pickup. But part of the joy of running is the idea that I'm not really sure where the journey will take me, what new back roads I'll discover, or what hills will taunt me along the way. Maybe I'll end up back home in an hour, or maybe I'll be calling Marybeth for a courtesy pickup from Sharpsville, Pa. That's the power of dreams, and that's a big part of the fun.
Don't sell yourself short; all of us have hopes and dreams that animate and excite us to take an action, to get better at something, to save up that down payment for a house, to get that promotion at work, to get that loan and launch a new business. Or maybe you dream about a house full of children's laughter, of a infant taking her first steps, of your son taking his first swing of that tiny whiffle bat, or your child stepping up to the podium to grab that long sought after degree.
The fire and fuel of our dreams is our imagination. ''Logic will get you from A to B,'' Albert Einstein famously said. ''Imagination will take you everywhere.''
When I ran in the Leadville 100 trail run last August, logic certainly didn't get me to Hope Pass, which sits at an elevation of 12,600 feet in the Rocky Mountains. In fact, logic was telling me to stop the madness already, to rest my weary bones and call it quits. But my imagination wasn't interested in logic. I remember visualizing how special it would be to arrive at the summit with my brother Tom at my side, and when it happened I remember feeling transformed by the power of that moment and the dream, that crazy dream to run 100 miles, that made it possible.
But not all dreams are the same. The most powerful dreams are those that not only move us forward toward an individual goal, but push and tug others forward as well. And the most powerful have the potential to move an entire planet forward.
Yesterday's holiday celebrating the life of Martin Luther King is testament to the power of imagination and dreams. In his famous ''I have a Dream'' speech, King imagined a world where his four children ''will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but on the content of their character.''
We still have work to do toward achieving the color-blind society that King imagined and dreamed about, but we have taken great strides toward that goal. But it's easy to forget that when King delivered that speech in 1963, Jim Crow laws and the ''separate but equal'' dictum that enabled them were still in effect in the South.
That is, until one man had a dream and imagined a different future for not only his children, but for the nation's children, and put those words into action. In 1963, that kind of thinking was viewed by some as crazy, dangerous and certainly illogical.
Well, thank goodness for illogical thinking. Another bitter cold Mahoning Valley night has settled in and I'm still awake, and for some reason all I can think about is Einstein, Sharpsville, Pa., and whiffle bats.
I guess I should make that courtesy call.
Kennedy is a Cortland resident. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org