My wife gave me an ultimatum once; give me a child or I’ll find someone who will. Though the original conversation lacked the impact of a single threatening sentence, the meaning remained the same. She’d always dreamed of having, raising, and loving children.
My wife worked hard to give our son the attention he needed and set him up for school, medical care, everything. She had a dream, stuck to it, worked at it, and saw it become a reality. I was part of the dream, she enlisted my aid, and I supported her in it; but the bulk of the credit for his successful entry into the adult world stems from her efforts. It took me forty years to have a dream with effort to match.
I grew up in the Apollo era, dreaming of a career as an astronaut. But I never did the work, never researched the kinds of skills I’d need to succeed. My future seemed so far away in the beginning, I didn’t need to worry about any of that ’til later. In the end, I abandoned my dream.
In search for adventure and exploration I joined the navy and served aboard submarines. They took an undisciplined, lazy, daydreamer and forced him to work hard at fulfilling his contract. For twenty-three years I trudged through life, not a dream in sight. I worked at a career I was proud of, maintained a wonderful marriage and helped raise a bright son.
Upon retiring from the navy I found myself feeling empty, without purpose or pride. I used to feel comfortable and confident in my identity as a naval submariner. ‘What am I?’ I began to ask myself? As I worked as a night desk clerk at a hotel along the highway, a dream took shape amidst my identity fog; I want to write.
I began writing, attended workshops, and read books; all in an effort to get better, to know what the hell I was doing and do it well enough that I’d not be the only reader of my work. The years spent having a work ethic hammered into me coupled with the faint twinge of regret from my previously abandoned dream pushed me forward when nothing else could.
Later, when my scribblings evolved into actual coherent stories, when fellow writers debated more over my message rather than how I transmitted it; a flickering ember of passion blossomed into a raging fire.
Someone asked me recently, “How do you find the time to write?” My answer, I make time. It’s not a six hour block in a fortress of solitude, or a serene cabin by the river; I write where I can when I can. Though I work a full time job, attend church, I carve an hour or three out of most days. Time with my wife is precious, so I steal those hours when she works in the evenings at a local coffee shop.
Many say it’s good to have dreams, and I agree as long as those dreams are either healthy fantasies or a serve as a goal you’re working towards rather than a ‘could’ve been’ in your rear view mirror.