Keeping Your Big Dream Alive Despite The Dream Smashers
In A Christmas Story, Ralphie has a big dream. He wants to get his official “Red Ryder 200-shot Carbine Action Air Rifle” for Christmas so he can be the hero he imagines himself to be.
He has his own vision of himself as the hero. There is nothing in his fantasy about getting an air rifle to bully people. He is not Scut Farkus. There is no desire to use the BB gun to hurt people—except the bad guys of course—or to bully others. In Ralphie’s heroic vision of himself, he will save his family from marauders. He will be brave. He will be the center of attention.
Ralphie’s Big Dream And The Dream Smashers
But Ralphie has a hard time keeping his big dream alive because of the dream smashers around him. Who are the dream smashers? They are the adults who keep responding to his desire to get a Red Ryder air rifle for Christmas with the dire warning: “You’ll shoot your eye out.”
His mother. His teacher, Miss Shields. Even Santa Claus himself. They all tell him that the thing he wants more than anything in his life is too dangerous.
But Ralphie is driven by his dream to have his Red Ryder air rifle, which means he has to convince the dream-smashing adults in his world to give him one.
Ralphie devises actions to fulfill his dreams. He puts an ad for a Red Ryder gun in his mother’s magazine. The plan fails. His mother doesn’t want him to have one. “You’ll shoot your eye out.”
He writes what he is sure is a brilliant theme to persuade his teacher of the merits of a Red Ryder air rifle. That plan fails when she grades his brilliant theme with a C+ and the dreaded warning at the bottom of the page. “P.S. You’ll shoot your eye out.”
Finally, Ralphie takes his appeal to the top. He asks Santa Claus at the local department store, in what is both a humiliating and terrifying experience. But Ralphie manages to make one final appeal to the big guy. What is his reward? A boot to the face and the dreaded warning: “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid.”
In a world in which children are bullies, toadies, or victims, Ralphie finds his dream to be a hero smashed again and again with the warning that tells Ralphie: Your heroic dream is too dangerous. Don’t want what you want. You’ll get hurt.
What Happened To Your Big Dreams?
My previous post, Ready Or Not, It’s Time To Change Your Life, included this statement from Stealing Fire From the Gods, by James Bonnet.
“In great stories, ninety-nine out of a hundred heroes take up the challenge. In real life, the vast majority refuse. To refuse the call means to let the problems slide and not become part of the solution. The world remains in trouble and we remain stuck” (Stealing Fire from the Gods: The Complete Guide to Story for Writers and Filmmakers, 2nd Edition page 128) .
Do you suppose that there’s a direct connection between “you’ll shoot your eye out, kid” and the refusal to take up the heroic challenge?
What happens to children with big dreams who continually have their dreams squelched, squashed, and shattered with a warning not to take the risk—because you’ll get hurt if you attempt to be a hero?
What happened to you and your dreams? Were they squelched by the dream smashers who responded to your dreams with warnings? Don’t do it! Be careful! You might get hurt.
P.S. You’ll shoot your eye out!!!!
To be continued…
For Your Success,
Dr. Kalinda Rose Stevenson
The Story Transformer
Creator of “The Story Transformation Process”
This is the third post in a 5-Part series.