Dreamers of the Day are Dangerous

“This, therefore, is a faded dream of the time when I went down into the dust and noise of the Eastern market-place, and with my brain and muscles, with sweat and constant thinking, made others see my visions coming true.

Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that all was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, and make it possible.” —T. E. Lawrence

These haunting words from T. E. Lawrence plague me night…and day.

There are many dreamers by night in this city of dust and noise we call Nashville—but very few dreamers of the day. Doers as well as dreamers. Culture changers. Eyes wide open. Dangerous men.

In fact, in all my global acquaintances—I know few dreamers of the day.

Dreamers of the day who make things possible are a rare breed indeed.

Lawrence knew a thing or two about dreams of the day. Thomas Edward Lawrence was the dashing, romanticized British officer credited with leading the Arab revolt against the Turks during World War I — a feat depicted in the epic film Lawrence of Arabia.The extraordinary breadth and variety of his activities and associations, and his ability to describe them vividly in writing, have earned him international fame as Lawrence of Arabia.

According to Lawrence, here are five requirements to be a Dreamer of the Day:

1) Initiative—Lao Tzu said: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” For example, when people learn you are an author and see your book, inevitably, they say, “Oh, I am writing a book, too.” “Oh, may I see it?” I ask. “Oh, uh,  I haven’t started yet.” “But why haven’t you?” I want to say.

2) Brain—Our brains are under-utilized and atrophied. We should keep our brain active with tasks that involve some level of challenge. Just as physical activity keeps our body strong, mental activity keeps our mind strong. By continually challenging ourselves to learn new skills, our brain will produce new connections between nerve cells, thus promoting neuroplasticity. This will help our brain store and retrieve information more easily, no matter what our age. HERE is more great information about your brain.

3) Muscles—To have well-toned muscles, one needs discipline. Mental thought plus physical strength equals dangerous power. A dreamer of the day is a well-rounded person, who cares for mind and body.

4) Sweat—Creativity is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. Dreamers of the day sweat from hard work. I believe the old adage, there is no substitute for hard work. It is a beautiful circle of life—work provides fulfillment, fulfillment provides happiness, happiness provides creativity, creativity provides dreams, dreams provide reality, reality provides life.

5) Thinking“Did you ever stop to think, and forget to start again?” ~Winnie the Pooh. A question—do you have a recurring appointment in your calendar for “thinking?” An even bigger question, would you be embarrassed if the boss came into your work place during your thinking time? And would your boss (or you) think you were wasting time? Maybe the question Pooh should ask us, “Did we ever start to think?” I have written more on this subject HERE.

What do you think?

Does this make sense?

Should we be dangerous?

Please join this conversation.

44 Responses to “Dreamers of the Day are Dangerous”

  1. Ouch. This hurts. I certainly fulfill the description of dreamer by night, and I know some of my dreams by day take root and grow into reality. My biggest failing is on the “sweat” side of things. So often I am tired out by the daily routines, and not even my compulsive reading habit refreshes me. So I don’t put in the sweat necessary to take something good to something great.

    I know that the answer to this problem for me is not actually more activity, but retreat – recharging times with God in solitude. That’s what I need, but my schedule is part of a devilish conspiracy against it.

    • @Mark Jaffrey, I on’t mean for it to hurt. I hope that it inspires. And if i know you—that is exactly what it will do. Because you are a dreamer of the day! You inspire me.

      Solitude is also a vital part of my energy and creative cycle. Hang in there!!

      • @Randy Elrod, I think the reason it hurts is that I carry some guilt about feeling not productive enough, and about being lazy. Although this is objectively not true, subjectively, I have an inner fear that people think I’m lazy and unproductive. Maybe it’s because I enjoy staring out of the window, or browsing news and blogs, maybe it’s because of those accusations during my school years, which I hated, but I think the pain comes from my issues, not from your writing.

  2. What a powerful post today, Randy. So often it is much simpler to just be a dreamer by night, all the while deluding myself into thinking that life lived vicariously through an imagined persona or a conjured adventure is, well, a life lived.

    I’ve adopted a phrase that, admittedly, is a bit cumbersome, but it helps to focus me: “the goal shouldn’t be to live long, but to live well.” When Jesus tells us that he came to give us “life more abundantly,” I understand this to mean not necessarily long life on earth; but, a life lived with impact, adventure, exhilaration, challenge, purpose.

    I love the post. Thank you!

    • @Dennis Disney, Thanks, Dennis. I love your quote: “When Jesus tells us that he came to give us “life more abundantly,” I understand this to mean not necessarily long life on earth; but, a life lived with impact, adventure, exhilaration, challenge, purpose.”

  3. Randy:
    I’m with you on everything. I think my biggest challenge is the “thinking” part of the schedule. I’ve set aside Mondays as a “quietude” day for myself… A day to think, write songs, breathe, sit still. (Plus, it’s the only day I don’t have to think about Sunday.)
    Without my Mandy-Mondays, I think I’d burnout faster than a sparkler on the 4th of July.

  4. Dear Randy,

    Dreamer by day or by night. what a great metaphor!

    You’ve challenged me to keep going. To balance my thinking (I’m good there) with productive, focused daytime activity that is the concrete result of thinking.

    Great post!

  5. just this morning I walked past my daughter in the kitchen. I was dressed and had my purse over my shoulder. She said, “Where are you going?” I said, “Downstairs to work.” {my studio is in the basement.}

    I love that she is seeing me show up to my calling. Victory for me is that she {and her brothers} see their stay-at-home-homeschool mom:

    * get dressed for work {and my work is painting and making pages.}
    * balance life {not always well, but I’m in the game.}
    * serve
    * study
    * dream at night and paint by day

    It is validating to have dreaming and the artistic process presented in such a powerful context. My husband is a sound designer. Our oldest son is a photographer and two are musicians. The fourth is an actor. {The Girl decorates clip boards with glitter and birds. :)} We know the work side of creative. We call it doing your “good, hard work”. Thank you for this post.

  6. Day dreamers have always been seen as lazy and distracted. Lazy? No. Distracted. Yes. To dream of ways to do amazing things or amazing ways to do things is to be constantly distracted. Creative men are dangerous men because they inspire others to do the impossible. Should we be dangerous? Yes, the world desperately needs it.

    • @Joe Baumgarten, On the contrary. It makes me consider the delineation between day dreaming and dreaming in the day. Hmmm.

      I love this: “Creative men are dangerous men because they inspire others to do the impossible. Should we be dangerous? Yes, the world desperately needs it.”

  7. Thanks for the inspirational truth (again) Randy. Every sentence triggered this reference: Mathew 11:12 “…the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.” May we fight valiantly and win certainly.

  8. you only have to know that two quotes from you have impacted me greatly. The first was the passage about “the magic being spanked and combed out of us” from A Boy’s Life and the second was this quote. if fact. i love it so much, i named my blog after it.

    i must confess this though. i’m so fearful of being hurt and chewed up and spit out again, that i’ve nearly stopped creating, writing, thinking, dreaming. i need to take that first step again. to do what i dream.

    i’ve got this amazing vision for worship songs, but feel my limitations hold me back from creating those. and the people who could help me realize that don’t seem to want to trifle with a guy from Lufkin, TX.

    but i have this hope. that God didn’t send David out to fight Goliath without first preparing him. He prepared him in the pasture for the things that would take place on the battlefield and in the palace.

    thanks Randy for continually reminding me about calling. now could you provide a boot sideways in my butt to get me moving?

    • @Chuck Harris, Great comment! I think God tends to favor the unlikely among us. It’s the unlikely from which miracles come. We expect perfection from the likely (i.e. prodigies, virtuosos, etc.). The most remarkable beauty comes from those you least expect…like you.

      Walk into the fear. It’s guarding an important door for you!

  9. I believe there is a silent 6th point here: scared sh*@less.

    If we aren’t under attack, if we aren’t scared to death of what we are about to do, we aren’t really a “dreamer of the day,” right? I would also argue that “dreamers of the day” aren’t balanced people living balanced lives either. Agree? Disagree?

    It’s been a while since I’ve been truly scared of something I feel called to do. I’ve gotten comfortable in my writing and my life. Maybe it’s time to change that.

    • @Keith Jennings, Yep!! I LOVE it. so true. Faith is a great word until you decide to live by it.

      I agree wholeheartedly on both your points. Courageous men are most often the most scared sh*@less—yet somehow they do things anyway.

      And the word and philosophy of balance is one of my most despised. Balance is for acrobats—not for creatives.

  10. We’re all born as dreamers of the day…but it is educated out of most of us by the time we’re twelve.

    I survived and I fight hard to make sure my children do to.

    • @Vince, Yep—you make me think of my favorite passage of writing in the known universe. Robert McCammon says “it is educated out, spanked out, combed out, and churched out.”

      I hope my children bear some of the fruit of my fight for their dreams as well.

      Thanks, Vince.

  11. Thank you Randy for this challenge.

    I have been in a season of losing the dreams. I am slowly coming back. But continue to battle with Initiative, which inevitably lessens my ability to care for brain an muscle. It is amazing how a life of discipline can be such a huge factor in living. To be un disciplined is to slowly die. I have struggled with this all my life.

    • @brent(inWorship), Brent, be encouraged. You are not alone. It is most often the supreme struggle of the creative life. Creativity and discipline are uneasy partners at best, and total opposites at worst.

      One step at a time.

      I continually struggle as you do.

      I really like your “slowly coming back” part!!

  12. Johnna Bigelow October 12, 2010 at 16:17

    I love the McCammon quote!!! I’m going to have to go explore and think about him some more!

    My husband and I have tried to let our children be the children they are and not force them to grow up too quickly. Even in selecting our day care, we opted out of the one that taught them a foreign language and how to do math at the age of two for the day care that hid “treasure” in the mulch/dirt of their playground and let the kids go on “treasure hunts” with spoons all afternoon. As they are maturing into young teens, we are reaping the rewards of our emphasis on play and creativity. From early elementary school until the present grade level, their teachers frequently share how “unique those Bigelow kids are! They always view things with a different perspective and are going to make the most amazing, interesting adults.” We are trying to raise dreamers…and I think we are succeeding!
    P.S. I’m not speaking against the more curriculum based day cares. I just differ in my view of what young children need most. Ironically, I am a college professor who is the child of two retired secondary teachers.

  13. such an exciting encouragement to move and not delay! Thank you!

  14. Being in transition I should be day-dreamin more…a good reminder. I cannot afford to NOT dream at this point in time. Thanks again!

  15. I have been a dreamer since the dawn of time and I have noticed dreams forgotten and dreams that have died through the years.

    One of the reasons why I started my blog was to keep a record of my dreams and then in addition keep a record of the great things that God did through those dreams.

    Family came with wife and kids and time seemed to go out the window.

    I realized that for years I operated out of survival mode like a chipmunk preparing for winter. Working in survival mode made it so I never LIVED and I no longer dreamed. My dreams were sabotaged by my own inadequacy and self-reliance.

    I realized something quite simple though. If we are not living day to day and moment to moment we never really live. If we are constantly thinking about tomorrow we can never seize the day.

    For me this last year or so has been about becoming an “intentional dreamer”. Meaning creating time to dream. Creating time intentionally to see God move through my gifting.

    Most importantly I have learned to create a close circle of friends outside of my own church that are also committed to dreaming God Sized Dreams and then intentionally kicking each others butts to make sure we do more than just dream.

    • @klampert, Joel, this is huge!! “…For me this last year or so has been about becoming an “intentional dreamer”. Meaning creating time to dream. Creating time intentionally to see God move through my gifting.

      Most importantly I have learned to create a close circle of friends outside of my own church that are also committed to dreaming God Sized Dreams and then intentionally kicking each others butts to make sure we do more than just dream.”

      I love dreamers created from the dawn of time. Just sayin’.

  16. Good stuff, as always. Inspired to dream.

    I dream a lot. I’d like to think of myself, for the most part, as a day-time dreamer and activist, as by the grace of God, (and yeah, with a LOT of sweat), I’ve put legs and feet to many-a-dream and seen them fulfilled.

    I turn 40 next month … and the dreams are far from ceasing. The dreams keep coming … the time to accomplish them is what I have to think about now.

    Just today I had a long conversation with our Administrative Pastor about some dreams. One in particular. The main reason I’ve not launched into it is fear:
    1. fear of failure.
    and more than that …
    2. fear of consequences – specifically, the reality that the thing I’m dreaming of will be something that could step on the toes of many that I’m in relationship with … I fear of being seen as a competitor, instead of a friend. A threat, instead of a partner. And THAT gets sticky.

    I feel the need for another 1-on-1 day on St. Simons or in Nashville … SOON.

  17. I find I’m most productive when I’ve allowed time for a dream to come to fruition in my mind… when it becomes so real I can feel it, taste it, touch it.

    I’m going through a discouraging season, where I’ve allowed some of my dreams to take a back seat to hard reality. I find this motivating.. thanks!!

  18. Randy, there is so much packed into this post. Much of the problem is that awful disease – ‘procrastination.’ Viktor Frankl said: “Without the inevitability of dying we would let our days waste away in an eternity of procrastination.” sadly so many people do waste away their days. It is often procrastination and not dreaming big enough that holds people back.

    Like you say we need to take time to think – this is not procrastination time, it is listening to the still small voice within and using the time productively!

    We also need to relax into thinking because one of Eeyore’s problems is he “thinks too hard, he never quietens his mind.” According to Benjamin Hoff in the Tao of Pooh

    “The surest way to become Tense, Awkward, and Confused is to develop a mind that tries too hard – one that thinks too much……. But with an overwhelming number of people, to misquote an old Western philosopher, it’s a case of ‘I think, therefore I am Confused.’”

    Clearly you have accomplished the right balance and this post certainly identifies much that leads to others being confused and therefore procrastination. Blessings for making me think.

    • @James Cohen, Thanks, James. Likewise, on the making ME think as well.

      What a powerful quote: Viktor Frankl said: “Without the inevitability of dying we would let our days waste away in an eternity of procrastination.”

      May you continue to think clearly and quietly.

  19. Thanks for posting Randy. I think you’re absolutely right, too many people live in the realm of what they could do or what they should do, but never actually do it!

    I want to thank you and Spence for inspiring me to become a doer of my dreams. Since we last talked at Meredee’s in February, I’ve packed up and moved to New Zealand where I’m starting my own virtual website and marketing business. I owe most of my knowledge on the subjects to you guys. I even used your new Elrod Art page as a guide for my latest client: http://www.mandywoodstainedglass.com

    I’ve found that life is so much more fulfilling when I take my dreaming from the night to the day!



    • @Kevin Banks, Thanks, Kevin. That means a lot. One of the most fulfilling things in life for me at this season, is inspiring others to create ripples. I’m glad you are rippling…and I really, really want to visit you in New Zealand one day!

  20. What a fabulous discussion…I read every single reply and I’m floating on an inspirational cloud…I’ve always been a “dreamer”, but the “thinker” in me makes it happen..(refer to twitter bio :)..Thanks for the incentive!

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