Most of you know that I’m an educator by day. It’s provided a wonderful life for my family and me thus far. You also know, however, that I’ve been chasing a dream for damn near twenty years now.
At the start of every semester, when I get a new batch of seniors, I give them what’s meant to be an inspirational talk regarding their future. I remind them that, if they have a dream, there is no better time to pursue it than the immediate future. Most of them have no dependents, few responsibilities, and nothing holding them back. I talk to them about the fact that when they are old, like me [wink, wink], and have children, a house, cars, bills, and that sort of thing, well, that’s not exactly the time to take a big risk. You can’t gamble everything when you’ve got people depending on you to maintain a certain lifestyle. I think it works fairly well with my students and it appears to get them fired up and excited about their futures.
But, I wasn’t totally being honest with them.
You see, it’s never too late to achieve a dream. Not really.
Sure, you have to be a little smarter about it the older you are, but there’s no reason not to go for it. You may have to be more conservative, a bit more grounded, but that’s no reason not to try. You should never give up.
I firmly believe each and every one of us is put on this planet to achieve something unique. Most of us, if I may be so bold, settle on sleepwalking through adulthood, though. We use our children as crutches–we’re too busy building their futures to think about our own. Here’s the thing: yes, you absolutely have a responsibility to provide the best life and the brightest future possible for your children, but you’re doing them a disservice if you give up on your own aspirations in the process. Children listen to our words, but they learn through our actions. If you want them to dream big, then you’ve got to dream big yourself. If you want them to fight to achieve their goals, then you must do the same.
A lot of us are also just too tired at the end of the work day to do anything extra. Look, we have to work, I get it. I have to work, too. But I’m wiling to bet most of us derive at the very least some joy from our careers. Some of us adore our jobs even. If your job is your dream, then that’s wonderful. I say try to push even harder. What else can you do within that job that gives you even more satisfaction? Not commendations, but actual satisfaction? Try to take it to the next level.
I’m telling you, we are not meant to sleep through life. We are meant to hope, to aspire, to dream from the day we’re born to the day we die. We have such beautiful, creative, complicated minds. Our brains want to be exercised. Our spirits want to be put to the test. Our bodies want to live. Watching TV after the kids are in bed night after night after night after night–we can be more than that.
Did you ever want to try dancing? Singing? Writing? Hunting? Stand-up comedy? Pottery making? Interior design? Gourmet cooking?
Try it. Whatever it is, take a risk. See what you’re made of. Don’t be afraid to fail.
Did you love doing something in your youth that got away from you because of adulthood?
You can go home again. Go back. Do it again.
But temper your expectations. Don’t expect to get famous. Don’t plan on setting the world on fire. Don’t even expect anyone to actually care. Just do it for the joy.
We don’t do enough for the sake of joy, do we?
Go get that gourmet cookbook from the library. Sign up for that dance class. Hit an open mic night at the local club. Join a rec league and play in your age bracket. Publish your writing on a blog that you maintain. In this day and age, anything is possible. It just takes time, effort, and desire.
Wake up and start dreaming again.
(Did you enjoy this article? Check out Scott William Foley’s short stories HERE!)