ONLINE EXCLUSIVE BY ANNA JENSEN
Mitch Matthews grants miracles in the simplest form. He gathers groups of people – neighbors, community members, friends, students, children – anyone with a dream, and has them write their dreams on a piece of paper and stick them on a wall.
Then, he encourages the group to walk around and read other people’s dreams and either write encouraging words or share connections, by recommending people or experiences, on the bottom of the papers.
The results have been life-changing. A nine-year-old attendee went on to write her first book. A woman was sent to Africa to fulfill her dream helping malnourished children. A man got to live his dream of skydiving when Groupon offered to fund his jump.
This networking event, “The BIG Dream Gathering,” was held on the evening of Tuesday, Sept. 6 in Parents Hall
Just shy of 300 people attended, said Chrystal Stanley, the director of professional and career development services at Drake University.
“I loved the energy there,” first-year Jasmin Chou said. “My biggest fear as a first-year is losing sight of what is important to me, so I really needed this reassurance.”
Matthews’ speech to the Drake students, faculty and community members focused on the word “permission,” and how it relates to dreaming.
In constructing dreams, Matthews said everyone must give themselves permission to dream, permission not to compare, permission not to plan, permission to ask and permission to look for complementary dreams.
Permission not to compare was an important message for students to absorb before they began posting their dreams.
“That’s an issue I always run into with students,” Stanley said. “All of their friends know what they want to do and they don’t. It becomes harder for them to figure it out because they are always comparing.”
The dreams don’t have to be complex, Matthews said. They can be anything.
Dreams ranged from wanting to be on a game show, buying a house to live in with their spouse, lose five pounds, finding a career they are passionate about, helping a woman through stage IV breast cancer.
Matthews’ dreams began this same way in 2006. When his plans were falling apart he sent an email to his friends asking them to join him at his house on a Tuesday night for “dream gathering.”
By Friday, people Matthew didn’t even know were walking into his house and posting their dreams on his living room walls, coating them in bright colors and aspirations. It became known as the Dream House.
“It is incredible to be a part of this,” said Ron Matthews, Mitch’s father. “To go around and reinforce dreams while also being continually inspired by them is a happy feeling.”
After people posted their dreams on the wall, it became a networking event. The group inside Parents Hall crowded around the walls with their pens and pencils and scribbled words of advice, encouragement and contacts onto the dream sheets.
“I found it exciting to watch how much fun people were having writing on other people’s sheets,” Stanley said.
When people left, they grabbed their sheets from the wall, which were labeled with an ‘anonymous dream number’ each attendee was given at the beginning of the night.
Matthews’ dream was to help people achieve their dreams. He stays in contact with many of those he has helped and goes to his gatherings and shares their stories, genuinely happy that they are living the life they always wanted.
“What a great life it is to help people achieve their dreams,” Stanley said. “It is truly a beautiful way to approach life.”