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The Power of Dreams

Intergenerational teams scaling up Mt Faber in Go for Your Mountain 2018

Ever thought about what older people dream about?

Well in fact, anecdotal evidence tells us that many adult children or grandchildren don't know that their senior loved ones have a dream, much less what these dreams are.

In 2018, Singapore recorded its highest suicide rate among our seniors. I've seen far too many older persons live in isolation and utter loneliness. Worse still, I've heard some tell me they are living for nothing and wish to die. I'm very concerned, as we should all be, and I want to see things change.

Dream dreams, the radical solution to a "lifeless" and "purposeless" old age.

Dream dreams - It is a powerful solution to senior suicide, loneliness and purposelessness. I'm convinced that dreams can change anyone. Yet, they stay latent, dormant and hidden till we activate them.

You see, dreams propel. Dreams inspire. Dreams demand action and motivation. It awakens you each morning and invigorates you with purpose. For an older person, it completely changes how one would live their every day till the very last.

The world is built on the dreams of dreamers who brought things into existence. The inventions that we enjoy today started with a dream from a generation past and is still being shaped by the dreams of men today. 

1963, the year Martin Luther King Jr., the civil rights activist stood before 250,000 people at the Lincoln Memorial and declared "I have a dream". King described his dream of freedom and equality arising from a land of slavery and hatred. For years he has been dreaming, seeing the pain and sufferings of his fellow countrymen. "I still have a dream, a dream deeply rooted in the American dream – one day this nation will rise up and live up to its creed, we hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal. I have a dream." This dream continues to shape modern day America.

Another man I've read about recently is Dr. Shigeaki Hinohara. He was born in 1911, in Yamaguchi Prefecture, in western Japan. He decided to study medicine after his mother’s life was saved by the family’s doctor. He also wrote a musical for children when he was 88 and a best-selling book, "To my 10 year old friends from a 95 year old me". Past 101 he was still treating patients and kept a date book with space for five more years of appointments.

Photo credit: Reuters

Hinohara's father advised him, “Have big visions and put such visions into reality with courage. The visions may not be achieved while you are alive, but do not forget to be adventurous. Then you will be victorious.”

Somehow dreams ignite the sense of purpose in our hearts. It answers the hard rhetorical questions: Why are you here? Do you have a strong purpose in your life? If so, do you believe that you can continue to experience this in your golden years? If not, do you believe that it is not too late, and there is still purpose for you right now?

If you need more convincing, meet Mr Wang De Shun.

Dreams allow us to see the world with different set of lenses. It has the power to give us the tenacity to go beyond ourselves. Dreams enable you to climb mountains, achieve and overcome obstacles in life. People come together and rally around a dream that gives them purpose and a common reason to wake up each morning. As we act on our dreams with purpose, we find meaning in life - the essence that enables one to live life to the full - with meaning and purpose that eludes many.

If you noticed, I've used the plural form, 'dreams', throughout this post. That's because I'm not referring to that one big dream, I'm referring to the mini dreams, smaller-sized dreams that could eventually lead us to that ultimate dream. Dreaming does not need to be so far fetched that they somehow feel unattainable, and we give up or give in to cynicism and disbelief even before we have even started.

As I write this, it is my hope that the dreams in your heart are awakened. Go on, think about what is one thing you could do today, this week, this month, to get closer to your dreams, no matter how old you are. Go for your dreams; go for your mountain!

No one is too old to have a dream. If you have a senior loved one in your life, you can help empower them to fulfil their dreams in their golden years!

I launched a national movement called Go for Your Mountain (GYM) that culminates in an annual intergenerational climb. This event will be the crossing of a physical hurdle, proving to themselves and the world that they can still pursue their dreams. The theme this year is "Awaken Dreams".

Check out the latest on the GYM movement here.


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