You know the clip on YouTube featuring Susan Boyle singing “I Dreamed a Dream” on Britain’s Got Talent? I’m sure you do. It has over 177 million views, and I think at least 50 of those are mine. This is my go-to video, the one I watch anytime I want a pick-me-up or I feel the need to believe anything is possible. It’s positively brilliant, as the Brits would say.
Here is this middle-aged woman who looks like your goofy neighbor, and she shocks the audience by nailing a very difficult Broadway ballad. It’s the ultimate underdog story starring an artist. And it’s full of wonderful clichés: don’t judge a book by its cover; it’s never too late to achieve your dreams; you can slay the dragon (Simon Cowell). And then there’s the lovely irony of a woman whose dreams are coming true as she sings a song about dying dreams. Perfect!
I recently read an interview with this year’s Caldecott winner, Dan Santat, in which he described always wanting to feel “as good as.” If getting one of the highest honors in children’s literature doesn’t let you know you’ve arrived, nothing will. Can you imagine his excitement as he accepted that award?
Frankly, I think that is what life is all about — those moments when our dreams come true; when our faces threaten to split because we are smiling so wide; when we shake our heads in utter disbelief; when we cry from sheer relief; when we laugh so hard we can’t stop; when we fall in love so deeply it dazzles.
And it doesn’t matter what those moments look like to you. Many of us felt them when our children arrived or the first time we flew solo or finished a marathon. Most of us recall a thrill when we kissed someone we thought might be “the one.”
No matter how old we get, we must never become so set in our ways, so tired and complacent, so overworked and cynical, that we stop reaching for our dreams. Strive for achieving those moments in your art and in your lives. If you can’t do that for yourselves, do it for us. Because the best part of the Susan Boyle video isn’t her miraculous voice, it’s the reaction from an audience that is experiencing magic. Inspire us, please!