Hold Fast to Your Dreams

How did I get here so quick?

Have you ever gotten to a point in life when you asked yourself this question?

It began to dawn on me that I had reached some turning point in my life when little old men at church started calling me “sir.”

As I look back on the past decade or so…

  • Instead locating all of the emergency exits in the building, I”m beginning to have a working knowledge of where all the bathrooms are
  • I realize that I know too much information about my pharmacist
  • For a while there, I was using handicap parking spots. It became a whole new way of managing parking strategy

I joke that every night as I lay my head on the pillow, it seems like I was just there a few minutes ago – time is rushing by so fast. I always thought getting old would take longer!

“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” ― Andy Warhol

There are so many life experiences happening now that I sort of expected, like being a grandparent, taking care of aging parents, and new stages at work. There are also many life twists and turns that came out of nowhere like fighting cancer with my wife.

“It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.” ― Gabriel García Márquez

There are days on autopilot with too much disengagement. Other days when there is just one big crisis to manage. Dreaming too often gets pushed to a very far corner. I have too many old bags of dreams from long ago that smell like mildewed laundry. I know this not the right way to live.

“A being who, as I grew older, lost imagination, emotion, a type of intelligence, a way of feeling things – all that which, while it made me sorry, did not horrify me. But what am I experiencing when I read myself as if I were someone else? On which bank am I standing if I see myself in the depths?”Fernando Pessoa

The dreams of yesterday, of my youth, don’t work now.

That’s not how dreams are supposed to work. They are real, they are work, they breathe life into each new day. But dreams need to be alive, growing and evolving with life as it is lived and changing. Today will never work if you won’t turn loose of those dreams of your yesterday and don’t let them become newly built dreams of today.

“At the age of six I wanted to be a cook. At seven I wanted to be Napoleon. And my ambition has been growing steadily ever since.” ― Salvador Dali

Whatever comes at you from around the next corner, as your life changes, as you hit the next stage/age of your life – keep your dreams alive by letting them breathe. Your choice isn’t to let your dreams of youth die because they don’t fit today. Your choice is to let your dreams out of the prison of your past. Let them emerge and take up residence in your life today. Let your dreams come to life again right now. It’s not so much the substance of the dream, but the act of dreaming that keeps us going on into the night. 

“Hold fast to dreams,
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird,
That cannot fly.”
― Langston Hughes

 

Runnin’ Down A Dream

The voice on the radio today said that Tom Petty would have been 69 years old tomorrow (if he had lived). He died in 2017. One of the concerts I never attended and wished I had.

Mike Campbell, who was in Tom Petty’s band, the Heartbreakers, is now playing with Fleetwood Mac. I got to see them (and him). Did a great performance, even a Tom Petty tribute. Remember Stevie and Tom’s duet, Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around?

One of Petty’s great songs is Runnin’ Down a Dream

I always thought this was a good theme song for my life. Runnin’ down a dream that never would come to me. My dream was a mixture of what I thought God wanted, my own inner inadequacies and the expectations of the world in which I grew up. A lot of stops and starts along the way. Mostly running, not much catching.

There’s a silly activity they play out during football games in Waco. They get someone, put ’em in a helmet, lead ’em to the end zone and launch footballs at them from a cannon of some sort. The poor character has to try and catch three, for a $100 each. I think they must corral cross-eyed people who’ve never held a football before to play the game. It’s also probably much harder than it looks.  Lot’s of misses.

When I look back, that’s what my runnin’ down a dream has looked like. A lot of fumbles along the way. Maybe it has been harder than it looks?

There’s a line in the lyrics, “workin’ on a mystery, goin’ wherever it leads”  That’s why I identify so well with the song. My dream has been such a mystery to me (to everyone else as well, I’m sure!). But for some reason I have kept chasing it. What else was I going to do? It has frustrated me, broken my heart, filled me with joy and kept me guessing. As I look back, I am nothing but confused about the strange path this chase has taken me (and my love) on.

Runnin’ down my dream was hard on everyone else. My wife loved me very hard. It was very hard to love me. She really worked hard at it. I can’t wait to count the stars in her crown for having to endure me. I’m glad we have eternity – it’s going to take me some time!

I’m at a crossroads again. Time to think about that dream and where I’m heading next. Where are you right now in your dreamin’? What metaphor seems to fit?

  • Treadmill
  • A game of Monopoly
  • Lost in the dark woods
  • Mountain to climb
  • Quicksand
  • Another mile in the marathon
  • Hide and Seek

The dream that God gives to each of us, the call he puts on our lives, isn’t going to go away. It’s not even a mystery to him. He’s going to remain faithful to you. Your life and every situation you find yourself in isn’t God. Read that again. Don’t get mixed up, don’t lose your faith in the outcome. Keep runnin’, keep dreaming. As long as it takes to find.

“All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake up in the day to find it was vanity, but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.” ― T.E. Lawrence (this is the Lawrence of Arabia guy)

Paul wrote this to the Corinthian church (1 Corinthians 15:10), I post-it noted it near my desk at work. I think it’s a wonderful reminder to me as I keep runnin’ down whatever dreams are left.

“…and His grace toward me was not in vain.”

 

 

The End of Another Semester

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” ― Søren Kierkegaard

The older I get, I feel as if I’m getting dumber and dumber. I just assumed wisdom automatically came with age.

I attend college graduation ceremonies at the end of each semester. What a celebration they are, every single time. I often remark to friends, as often as I attend, I myself still never seem to graduate.

Each year, I get to see the anticipation and anxiety as students approach the end of another semester and many, their last semester. Graduation from college is a tremendous rite of passage in life. It’s an important doorway into adulthood and so many dreams about the future.

Think of all the other important life passages people pass through:

  • Getting your driver’s license
  • Your first paycheck
  • Graduating high school
  • The first date
  • Marriage
  • Children, one by one
  • The big promotion

The journey of living is one filled with doorways. We pass through them, sometimes prepared but so often uncertain about what lies ahead. I can’t even remember what was going on during my three different college level graduations. It’s almost certain that I’m now in decline – I can’t remember most of last week! I do know that I’m learning lessons again and again – until they become “automatic” and I no longer have to ponder too long at the same crossroads.

“When I was younger, I could remember anything, whether it had happened or not; but my faculties are decaying now and soon I shall be so I cannot remember any but the things that never happened. It is sad to go to pieces like this but we all have to do it.” ― Mark Twain

When it comes to teaching and mentoring young people who are deliberately marching every day into a bold and frightening future, there are two contradictory lessons to be wrestled with:

  1. We have to pass through one door to proceed to the next. Sometimes this is too difficult for us because a part of us remains in the past with some unfinished business. Sometimes we leave someone important behind, because we need to or because we have no choice. We get stuck and can’t move because a part of us is too wounded to travel any further. There’s just too much pain and change threatens another possibility of hurt.
  2. The only life we are assured of having is the one we hold in our hand today. While dreaming and building a ship to sail on the winds of tomorrow is an important part of who we are – it is still an intangible hope. The risk is losing today and all of its opportunities while we long for the future. We just can’t miss today and all that it holds while peering out the window watching for tomorrow.

Semester after semester, watching all those college graduates strut, stroll and march across the stage to accept their diploma and pose for pictures, I sometimes wonder about what awaits at the other end of the stage. Once the happy family and friends have all left, the next chapter awaits.

Like two sides of the same coin, it’s always a tremendous challenge to balance these two great lessons about living. My wife is now trying to find her post brain surgery balance as she practices walking straight lines. It’s probably a similar feat, keeping one eye on our dreams about tomorrow while still seeking all the blessings in today’s path.

“Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!” – Matthew 26:41