Dare to Dream or Risk Drifting into Oblivion
By Fr Ben Didacus Opiyo
It is dangerous to just drift through life. Very dangerous! Drifting has robbed the world of countless people who could have impacted it positively. Alas! They never woke up long enough to dream with their eyes wide open.
Refuse to join their ranks.
Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, “I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand as in what direction we are moving: To reach the port of heaven, we must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it, but we must sail and not drift, nor lie at anchor.”
Anne Katherine Porter struck the same chord about directions in life when she said, “I am appalled at the aimlessness of most peoples’ lives. Fifty percent do not pay attention to where they are going. Forty percent are undecided and will go in any direction. Only ten percent know what they want, and even all of them don’t go towards it.”
The question is, which direction is your life moving towards? Are you conscious of where you are going? Did you decide to go there or you are just drifting?
We must be conscious dreamers, otherwise we risk drifting to oblivion!
I want to introduce you to Dr. Sylvia Omulo, currently a research fellow, coordinating studies on resistance to antibiotic, a project of Washington State University Global Health Program in Kenya.
For as long as she can remember, Sylvia always wanted to be an inventor. She first toyed with her first love, Fine Arts before getting into Biomedical Engineering. She worked real hard while at St Mary’s Lwak Girls’ High School and buoyed by her dream, made it to Egerton University and joined the course of her dream. During the long holidays, and the unexpected ones caused by frequent students’ strikes, she decided to use her time profitably by engaging in industrial attachment.
Her first stint was at St. Monica’s Hospital in Kisumu, and a number of times with KEMRI/CDC also in Kisumu. At times she had to pay to get that attachment slot, and some of her university colleagues thought her weird. How could somebody pay to volunteer? How could she work for over seven months without pay?
Sylvia however says that it was during the volunteering at KEMRI/CDC that she truly came to understand research.
A senior mentor to walked her through a research protocol called Polymerase chain reaction (PCR), a technique used in molecular biology to amplify a single copy or a few copies of a segment of DNA across several orders of magnitude, generating thousands to millions of copies of a particular DNA sequence.
She also learnt that she could be an early morning person, waking up very early to go catch mosquitoes swollen with blood in Mbita-Homabay County.
Most striking was that when she finally graduated from Egerton, she landed a job with KEMRI/CDC, but first had to sit for two interviews. It was her deep grasp of the PCR that clinched the position in the follow-up interview.
Interestingly, it was something that she had learnt during the months of volunteering and slogging away in the laboratory.
She has since done her Masters degree in Public Health, at the University of Leeds (UK), and recently earned her PhD in Immunology and infectious diseases from Washington State University (USA).
Daktari is on a roll. She has joined the roll of the conscious dreamers, en route to making a difference in the world.
John C. Maxwell in his book, “The success journey”, synthesized five facts about what dreams do to the dreamer.
Dreams give us direction. Dreams increase our potential. Dreams help us prioritize; when you are passionate about something, you instinctively gravitate to activities that will aid you in realizing it. Dreams add value to our work; while others were thinking that Sylvia is insane to volunteer to work in the labs without pay, she on her turn knew the immense value of that exposure. Dreams predict our future; isn’t this obvious, especially, when the dream is clear and the commitment total?
Dreamers are truly a blessing. James Allen, in his book, “As a Man Thinketh” stated, “Dreamers are the saviors of the world.” This is not about passive dreaming, but rather about those who dream and then commit to making their dreams a reality.
Their journey becomes an inspiration and beacon to help others begin their race. Their tangible contributions impacts the lives of their generation and their legacy become an enduring source of hope.
I have shared Dr. Sylvia’s story numerous times with young people in many high schools and a number of universities. It always challenges, inspires and invites quite a number to begin or continue their race on the dream track.
Some young people may ask, “How do I get started?”
First, you need to define your destiny with God. Looking back, Dr. Omulo is fond of saying, “Miracles happen every day but some are just too blind to notice!”
How do you explain randomly meeting a former classmate in a bus on your way to an interview, who then proceeds to give you a crash course on avian flu, you get to the interview, you are asked the very question and you answer like a pro?
How is it that the follow-up interview just happens to be about P.C.R, which you had mastered during one of your volunteering attachment? How does the World Bank agree to offer you scholarship, long after the window had closed and you had failed to respond to their email for over a month?
You are God’s workmanship. As you commit to identifying your path with God, St. Paul has a message for you, “For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them.” (Eph.2:10).
Be convinced that you are created and fitted to add value by God Himself. You are too precious to drift through life. Secondly, get into the habit of asking God what he has fitted you for. Thirdly, embrace the dream(s) and commit to birthing them, with His help.
Be open to daily miracles, the helping hands and opportunities to discover yourself, hone your skills and serve others in small and big ways.
To paraphrase Oliver Wendell Holmes, do not stand, do not lie idle, do not drift. Dream, set your sail right, and let divine wind blow you to places where you will add the greatest value!
Fr Ben Didacus Opiyo is the rector St Gabriel Seminary in the Archdiocese of Kisumu