This article originally appeared in the Spring 2000 issue of Pioneer Magazine
By Mary A. Johnson
As we begin a new year and a new millennium, it seems natural to look back on that which has passed to see what we have accomplished; which dreams have been left unfulfilled and which dreams have been realized. It is a way of measuring accomplishments and evaluating life. It is a way of setting new goals—either to push harder or to relax more, depending upon age, health or other situations.
In the first 25 years of our married life, my husband and I moved many times because of his career. It was always hard to leave homes, friends, family and comfortable surroundings, but once all the packing and shipping were behind us and we were actually moving on, it was kind of fun. It was always like a chance to start life over with new surroundings, new friends and new opportunities.
I’ve lived in some wonderful homes, but I had a specific dream home in mind for our retirement. This dream home has never materialized. But oh, the dreams that have been fulfilled in the good home I do live in, dreams I could never have imagined.
It must have felt something like this to the pioneers who came to Utah in those early days. I think of Harriet Marler, who at age 18 married Allen Marler. She couldn’t have dreamed of the life she would eventually live. Harriet and Allen married on February 2, 1832. Harriet was the daughter of wealthy plantation owners, so they became owners of a small plantation themselves.
After joining the LDS Church, they sold the plantation at a loss and headed west. After crossing the Mississippi River, Allen and three of their children contracted cholera and died. Soon afterwards, Harriet gave birth to her ninth (and last) child, a daughter who died that same day.
Harriet and her remaining children pressed on with the Saints, arriving in Utah on October 2, 1850. The family settled in Pleasant Grove. Harriet later moved to Ogden, then to Harrisville, where she died at the age of 56. (Story taken from Harriet Heath Marler, Pioneer Women of Faith and Fortune, pp. 1877-1878.)
This life that Harriet led could never have been what she’d dreamed of as a young woman, yet the realization of greater dreams was her reward. She gave up a fortune for the gospel’s sake, and reportedly never regretted her decision, living with the peace of mind that comes from following your heart.
Growing up in the 1930s, I saw the glitz and glamour of Hollywood on one hand and Depression poverty on the other. Like many young women, I dreamed of becoming a movie star. Some succeeded, but the vast majority of us took a different path, fulfilling other dreams. Yet never in my wildest dreams did I think I would one day be president of the International Society of Daughters of Utah Pioneers. In fact, I didn’t even know the society existed! But here I am, in a position of honoring those who paved my path and encouraging others to do so also—a great opportunity for me to see dreams of many people fulfilled.
Sometimes people are able to dream dreams and make them come true. Still, often while pursuing our hearts’ desires, most of us experience wonderful things that we never dreamed of. This is why it is good to look back, to remember, to recognize, to appreciate those wonderful things that happen along our way.
A new millennium is a wonderful time to set new goals, dream new dreams and push hard to make these dreams become reality. It is also a great time to recognize the fulfillment of dreams that we originally had never dreamed of!