Here’s to the Fools Who Dream

After a restful holiday of travels with family and friends and time on retreat with Fr. Pat Reidy, C.S.C. and Steve and Michele Warner, we House of Brigid fellows are back at it again in our respective parish communities of Harold’s Cross and Clonard. For the four of us here in Wexford, that doesn’t mean that we haven’t taken some extra time to relax and unwind in these days of settling back in, though. This week we headed to the local cinema to witness the craze surrounding the winner of a record 7 Golden Globes: La La Land. Minor spoilers to follow, but if you haven’t seen this movie yet, you should get on that ASAP.

Teach Bhride VIII on retreat with Fr. Pat, Steve, and Michele (nice work, Geoff)!
Teach Bhride VIII on retreat with Fr. Pat, Steve, and Michele (nice work, Geoff)!

La La Land is a modern story with all of the nostalgia of a movie musical from the golden age of Hollywood. It follows Mia (Emma Stone), an aspiring actress, and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), a struggling jazz pianist, as they seek to achieve their dreams of making it big in Hollywood. It is ultimately through their relationship with each other that they find the courage to persevere towards their respective dreams and renew a sense of each of their own identities. The film, in all of its refreshing fun and catchy music, conveys a number of profound truths about human life, including dreams/goals/ambition, identity, and relationships.

Towards the end of La La Land, Mia is in an audition where she shares the story of her aunt, who she recalls as a dreamer. In a number aptly titled “Audition,” she sings: Here’s to the fools who dream, crazy as they may seem. This, and much of the plot of the movie, got me thinking: where would we be without the foolishness to pursue a dream a little bit?

"La La Land," written and directed by Damien Chazelle and starring Ryan Gosling & Emma Stone.
“La La Land,” written and directed by Damien Chazelle and starring Ryan Gosling & Emma Stone.

I’m often a rigid, logical, straightforward decision maker. Practicality and efficiency typically govern my choices. Just about one year ago, with a seat awaiting me in medical school and my plans to become a doctor cruising along, I was a fool to think that I could delay these plans. But there was something in me dreaming of the opportunity to go back to Ireland, a place I could call home from my time in 2014, to serve the Church, an institution, people, and faith that has shaped who I am. Through much time in prayer, reflection, conversation with trusted friends and family, I couldn’t avoid this dream that had been planted in my heart. I applied for a one year deferral of my entrance into medical school – something which is rarely given – and it worked out.

For those college seniors and other young adults discerning future plans, and perhaps even applying for the House of Brigid, don’t be too concerned about your foolishness to dream. Some of the greatest moments that touch our lives and the life of the world come from those who not only dare to dream, but also dare to pursue a dream. Through much prayer and discernment, we may come to realize that some of our dreams are seeds planted in our hearts by God. People in our lives and our own relationship with God help to water the seed, and push us to follow where the dream leads. It is through leaps of faith and each other, that Mia and Sebastian find their dreams to come true. But none of this comes without the courageous foolishness to dream in the first place.

Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone as Sebastian and Mia.
Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone as Sebastian and Mia in “La La Land.”

Finally, where would the House of Brigid be without our fools (meant in the most lovingly of ways to the following individuals) and dreamers? Without Msgr. Denis Lennon? Without Steve Warner? Without Carolyn Pirtle? Without John and Ann Calcutt? And many others too, of course. The House of Brigid program exists because of those who had the courage to dream of a new opportunity to answer God’s call to love and serve.

To Fr. Denis, Steve, Carolyn, John and Ann, and many others: thank you for your trust in the Lord and the guidance of St. Brigid, and that crazy feeling that your dreams might just work. I wouldn’t be here in this place without any of it. To my mom and dad, siblings, other family and dearest friends: thank you for encouraging me to “foolishly” take the risk of delaying medical school to be here. To you who are applying to the House of Brigid and other programs and jobs following graduation: thank you for your courage to take a leap of faith, and trust that your dreams ultimately come from the quiet, loving whisper of the will of God. To all of you fools who dream: here’s to you.

Just us living in La La Land.
Just us living in La La Land.

Slán go fóill,

Alex