Archive for June, 2010

Childhood Dreams

I have been listening to Randy Pausch’s book, The Last Lecture.  In it he talks about the dreams he has achieved in his life.   Not the grown up goals that we set at the beginning of each year, but the seemingly impossible childhood dreams he set out for himself.  He loved Disneyland and dreamed as a child of working there.  As an adult, he pursued this dream on during a sabbatical, he found himself working on a virtual reality project with the Disney Imagineers.  He dreamed of floating through space and though he couldn’t be an astronaut because of his less than perfect eyesight, he was able to perform an experiment on board the Zero Gravity plane and experience the feeling of being weightless.  He wrote this book as he was dying but he wrote it as a man who was proud of all that he achieved, not as a man regretting the things he had yet to do.

I have been listening to this book with my sixteen year old son who has spent the last two years planning very carefully which courses to take so he can get into a good college.  My son is a planner.  He is an achiever.  He is a goal setter but, right now at least, he is not a dreamer.  As a mom, who is now pursuing the lifelong dream of becoming an author, I encourage my son to dream.  To find something he enjoys, be it computer games engineering, cooking, or 17th Century literature, and study that.

But listening to Randy’s book, something else occurred to me.  I have spent the last four years being excited about the writing that I am doing.  I have stopped worrying about the fact that I let so much time slip through my fingers, that, as a young adult, I let others tell me that writing was not a worthwhile pursuit.  But I have not given myself credit for the other dreams I have achieved.

As a child living in trailer parks, I was not destined for big things and yet I dreamed them.  I knew no runners as a child, but watching Julie Moss crawl across that finish line in Hawaii, I knew I wanted to be an athlete.  I knew I wanted to experience the feeling of pushing myself to my physical limits and I have, over and over again.

I dreamed about going to college and getting out of my small town and against all odds, with no encouragement from anybody, I did.  The best part of this dream is how many of my smaller dreams fell into place because of its fulfillment.  I dreamed of traveling the world, living in other countries, seeing places outside of my small world, and I have.

As I write this, I am sitting on a deck overlooking a beautiful lake in Maine.  As a child, Maine held lore for me for so many reasons.  I grew up with extended family who still referred to anybody from the North (Virgnia was almost North) as “Those damn Yankees.”  I was told the North was cold and dirty and dreary.  But I was a reader and everything I read talked about the beauty of Maine, the most Northern point on the East Coast.  It became a challenge to me.  If I visited Maine and it was beautiful, then I won.  Adults didn’t always have all the answers and I wasn’t trapped into a life that followed all of their paths.  It has taken me thirty years to get here but, I-have-you-know, I won.  It is stunningly beautiful here.

It is easy to look back at all of those childhood dreams and pick out the ones we have not achieved but, after reading The Last Lecture, I understand that looking back at the ones I have achieved and appreciating the fact that I achieved them, can lead to new dreams or even the pursuit of the ones I thought I had lost long ago.

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