Building Castles in the Sky
Pushing the Limits of Possibility

Henry David Thoreau said, “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”

A castle in the sky

I understand Thoreau’s endorsement of dreaming and his cautionary comment about making sure your dreams have a foundation. I have endeavored to build castles in the past. Some of my dreams have been realized, while others haven’t. Regardless, I will never stop dreaming.

This essay isn’t only about dreaming and constructing a foundation. Some of my dreams pushed the limits of possibility. The most important of all my mentors was Bobby Kennedy. Bobby was a dreamer who said, “Some men see things as they are and say, why; I dream things that never were and say, why not.”  He grasped the issue of asking why not. That statement is my template in life. Winning or losing isn’t the issue. It is trying the seemingly impossible. It also demonstrates to others that you see value in them. That affirmation will embolden them in their dreaming.

My single most important dream is for my family in Myanmar to obtain our State Department’s Diversity Visas. When they do, they will come to America and live with me. Getting DVs is a Herculean task and dream, and it hasn’t been realized yet. In the meantime, I wrote to my family about Ti Ti, my oldest granddaughter, going to college in the States while living with me.

For the past couple of months, I have spent hours getting the needed document sent to Ti Ti for a student visa. At the same time, I provided Moraine Valley Community College, where I am an adjunct professor, with all the documents for Ti Ti to be interviewed at the US Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand, for a student visa.

Amid all that paperwork, late one evening, I got this email from someone I didn’t know.

My husband and I heard Bolero on TikTok and were discussing what movies the song had been in. This led to your article. I am curious as to how you came up with the name of your site. I learned the song, by the same name, when I was young. My much younger brother used to sing it to his daughter, with a strange accent on honey. They even did a father/daughter dance to it at her wedding four years ago. So, it was strange seeing the name of your site.

I’m not sure why, amid all the paperwork stacked on my desk, I responded to that email as quickly as I did. I could have replied merely by copying a link to an essay that I wrote about Maurice Ravel, which explains Bolero. However, that article about Ravel might have been the source of how they found my website.

Nevertheless, they were concerned about how they came up with that web address. The lyrics were about some teenager who wanted to see his girlfriend on Wolverton Mountain. However, that is merely a metaphor for dreaming dreams.

In life, there is nothing certain. I understand that merely dreaming won’t assure success. There will be roadblocks to my castle in the sky. When I faced problems with Ti Ti getting a student visa so that she could go to Moraine, I reached out to Cecilia Galvan. Cecilia is the person heading the office that assists international students where I teach. She answered several emails each day for several weeks from me. She knows all the information that I need, for which I am extremely grateful.

Beyond knowing her job and answering dozens of my questions, Cecilia would invariably mention that I might want to think about something or consider an additional item. She prepared me in advance with suggestions. When those unexpected situations arose, I was ready and able to address the problem in each case.

I told Cecilia that we would get together over lunch when Ti Ti and her mother arrived in the States to thank her for making my castle in the sky dream become a reality.