Story telling is deeply rooted in the human history and our psyche. Stories have helped us understand this world, who we are and where we come from. Stories connect us to each other, inspire us and spark our creativity and imagination. Stories have a healing quality as they allow us to realize the reflection of our own emotions.
I wrote this story at this particular time as I sensed an urgent collective need for all of us to re-connect with our hopes and dreams. I would like to invite you to read this story, and as you do so, mindfully reflect on the emotions, body sensations, and imagines that it elicits. Allow the feelings and the sensations to be there without judging them. Just give them a space to exist, give them a permission to be.
If you are a parent or an adult who would like to share this story with a child, it is appropriate for a child of 6/7 or older. You can invite the child to notice how they feel inside their body throughout the story (i.e. "where in your body do your feel the dragon flies and bees?" or "Where do you feel the sun shining? How does it feel? Can you describe that to me?"). This will help the child learn awareness of emotions and how they live in the body as sensations.
When the child deals with his or her emotions elicited by real life situations, having listened to this story with an adult guidance, can help him how to deal and work through intense feelings by mindfully allowing them to be and just noticing them and helping them move through. After you have read the story, you can also invite the child to tell you the parts that she liked or didn't like or even draw some scenes from the story. You can have a discussion about the hopes and dreams that the child has. If you are reading to a boy, you can change the "girl" in the story to a "boy" so that the child is able to better identify with the character.
The City of Hopes and Dreams
Once upon a time there was a girl who was very sad. The sadness had made her heart dark and heavy. She felt that all hope was gone from from her life and the world. There were no dreams left either. She felt lost.
One day she sat by a beautiful small lake that was surrounded by trees that gave shade and comfort from the heat of the day. One could hear dragonflies and bees buzzing about, and see the birds being busy as they went about their daily tasks. Through the glimmer of the serene and calm surface of the lake one could see majestic mountains afar towering over the scenery.
Despite all this beauty around her, the girl felt sad and despaired, but being close to nature gave her some solace: feeling the wind in her hair and the soft tickling of the grass on her skin dampened the pain that was otherwise sharp. She decided to take a dip into the water to freshen herself.
She swam a long time and she lost a sense of time and direction as she floated on her back and watched the white cottony clouds gliding smoothly on the sky. Suddenly she felt tucking and pulling. Something had wrapped around her ankle and was now pulling her underwater. She panicked, screamed for help and tried to fight to stay afloat but all this was useless as the sea weed around her ankle was determined to pull her under water.
The girl soon relaxed as she realized she could actually breath under water. She took a big breath. Maybe it was some sort of magic, but she did not bother herself too much with this as she looked around in awe the beauty of this under water world that she was being pulled into. There were many colorful fish of all sizes, interesting plants that swayed in the current and corals that gave a sort of a shimmer.
The sea weed kept pulling and guiding her until finally she saw a beautiful city down below her. The city was build of gold. The sea weed let her go by the edge of the city. With curiosity the girl looked around in wonder. It was a miniature city where she could see small people going about their day.
She was startled from her observations by a deep voice from behind her saying, "I have been expecting you a long time". She turned around and was looking straight into the big, round and wise eyes of a large pike fish who was wearing a golden crown decorated with colorful gem stones. The fish welcomed the girl and introduced himself as the King of the Lake.
He told the girl that he knew all about the wound in her heart and that she felt she had lost all her hopes and dreams which was making her very sad. Then he gave the girl a key. It was not just any other normal key but one made of glass that shone in all the colors of the rainbow. The Fish King told the girl to travel to the City of Hopes and Dreams, and find a door that this key will open. Inside the house that the door belongs to are all her lost Hopes and Dreams. This key will unlock and free all her dreams so that they can come true.
The girl was a bit skeptical but also excited about the possibility of feeling happy again. The Fish King pointed her to the direction she needed to go and she set off to her journey feeling more hopeful than she had for a long time.
After a long walk she arrived at a big city with many winding streets and colorful houses. She realized this was the City of Hopes and Dreams. She walked through the streets and saw happy people going about doing what they loved. Everyone there was working on fulfilling their dreams. Once in a while she saw a few dark houses here and there. When she walked by those, she felt uneasy and anxious. Her throat closed off as if she could not gasp enough air. She did not see anyone but could feel gleaming eyes following her from the half shut windows. She realized that these were the dreams of people who harbored hatred and anger in their hearts. Their dream is revenge or hurting others. The girl picked up her pace and walked quickly past these houses.
All and all the city was beautiful with lots of good energy and happiness. Everything seemed to work and function so well and she could perceive people being productive. She wondered if the real world could also be like this if everyone fulfilled their desires.... she thought it would be a much better place. But this unfortunately was not the case as she realized this City of Hopes and Dreams was just something that only existed in most peoples thoughts and minds. This underwater city was merely a projection of all those unrealized and un-lived dreams.
Having understood this, the girl felt heavy and sad again. She was tired from looking for the door for her own Hopes and Dreams so she sat down on a meadow in the park that was in the middle of the city. She must have fallen asleep as she was woken up by a shadow on her face. It was a small boy standing above her and curiously looking at her. He said 'You look lost. Can I help you?" The girl gladly accepted his help. She explained everything to him about her lost Hopes and Dreams, the Fish King and the key. The boy asked to see the key. He shouted with joy and told the girl he knew exactly the door that this key belonged to.
He took her by the hand and quickly lead her through the city. After a long walk they arrived to a large house. The entire house was made of glass! One could see many spacious rooms inside and even a small garden in the back. The boy excitedly asked the girl to put the glass key inside the glass lock. She carefully placed the key inside the lock and slowly opened the door and SWOOSH! Out came all her Hopes and Dreams that filled her heart and mind. The darkness lifted from her heart and happiness pushed the sadness away as she realized her dreams, and was now ready to make them come true in the real world.
With shouts of joy and many hugs the boy and the girl celebrated. The boy was crying because he was so happy which the girl could not fully understand so she asked. The boy explained that it was HIS dream that the girl would come and open this house to free her dreams. Once her dreams would realize themselves so would his. It was at this moment the girl realized how interconnected our dreams are and that fulfilling ones own dreams can also fulfill the dreams of others.
Now, the girl was in a rush to return to the real world so she can start working on all that she just perceived. She bid goodbye to the boy who said they would meet again above. The girl put the glass key back in her pocket and started her journey back up.
Next thing she knew, she found herself waking up on the very same spot on the grass by the shores of the lake. The sun was setting in the distance behind the mountains painting the sky with hues of red, orange and blue. She sat up and rubbed her eyes wondering whether it was all a dream. She must have slept a long time. She reached into her pocket inside which was the glass key that unlocked her dreams.
She stood up with a smile on her face, brightness in her eyes and energy in her body as she set off home. Her heart was full of her own Hopes and Dreams that she was now determined to make come true.