Book Excerpt: Dolly Parton's 'Dream More: Celebrate the Dreamer in You'

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The truth is, I have done lots of projects that were less than successful. By some people's standards, they were okay. But they were sure not what I dreamed they could be. I strive to do great things. Maybe that's what makes me work so hard and why some of the things I have done that have lived up to my dreams make up for the others that haven't. The dream that carried me from my mountain home to Nashville and beyond was to simply perform on the stage at the Grand Ole Opry. Growing up, that's pretty much all I talked about, all I thought about and all I dreamed about. So when that moment finally came, I knew then that no matter what else happened in my life—good and bad—I had fulfilled my greatest dream. Of course, I went on to dream more and I am thankful that I've had many more dreams come true. But just knowing that my first (and maybe my most special) dream came true always eases the disappointment that comes from dreams that don't turn out the way I envisioned. In any event, I am my own worst critic and I really try to learn from my mistakes. Sometimes I just don't talk about them. That sounds like a politician . . . brag about your successes and sweep your shortcomings under the rug. But thinking about what I did right and what I didn't do right helps me.

When things haven't gone well, it's very easy to start blaming others for what went wrong. Well, I'm human. I've done that, too. After all, I'm not perfect, even though I'd like to think my little nieces and nephews think so. After time, however, I start thinking about why and what lesson God wanted me to learn from it. Usually he slaps me in the face with something so obvious that I feel stupid I hadn't seen it before. Then I realize he was pointing it out so that I would not make the same mistake on the next, even bigger project. It seems that each project I take on is bigger and better than the last. (This does not include plastic surgery.) The key is to never be bitter.

Bitterness is usually caused by holding on to something far longer than you need to. I have learned to let things go, as I truly believe all things happen for a reason and know that just because I want something to happen, it doesn't mean that it should happen or that it will. So when something doesn't go my way or I stumble, I pick myself up, make sure I brush the disappointment off my rhinestones, and try not to harden my heart over it.

Instead, I set about trying to strengthen the muscles around it. Today I dream of making more movies, creating and producing more television shows, especially for children, and writing more children's books and music. I dream of writing my life story as a Broadway musical. I dream of my own cosmetics company. I dream of more Dollywoods and Dixie Stampedes. I dream that every child in the world will have an opportunity for their dreams to come true. Of course, to make all this happen, I have to dream bigger; I have to work harder. And that is fine with me. I never will retire. And I hope I won't ever go to seed. As they say, I would certainly rather wear out than rust out. I hope that I drop dead right onstage one of these days, doing exactly what I want to do. It might shake up the audience a little bit, but I hope everybody knows that's exactly what I want. And I want people to simply walk around me and say, "Oh, just look at her. Is she smiling? She looks so happy, like she's having sweet dreams. I'm so glad we were with her when she went."

I just hope it doesn't happen today or tomorrow—but I know it will someday. And when it does, just know that I went happy, because chasing my dreams is what I do love to do. I want you to chase your dreams. So if I have but one wish for you, it is to dream more.

Just look around at those on top. They held their dreams and never stopped. Planted them in fertile fields And watched them as they grew. Little engines proud and bold, Never faltered 'neath their load. Saw their destination through And you can, too. So celebrate the dreamer in you.

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