As a 19 year-old I was convinced that after submitting my comic strip to syndicates, I’d be able to quit my lawn care job within a year.
- A couple years later, I was convinced a house-flipping business with my friends would take off.
- Two years after that I was convinced my band would make it.
- After college I was convinced my design business would work.
- A few years later I was convinced it had all come full circle and writing pop songs for a pre-teen band during the height of the Jonas Brothers and Hannah Montana craze would pay off our mortgage.
- No syndicates expressed interest
- The house-flipping business made about $200 for six months of work and several years of waiting
- The band broke up after fewer and fewer people attended our shows
- The design business failed, so I got a job as a janitor at my church
- The pre-teen band sold a few albums, but nothing crazy
Each time I seriously thought “This is it; this is my ticket out of here. Once this goes through, my ship will come in.”
Maybe I’m cynical, but I don’t know my book writing is going to pay off. Even if I sacrifice, go to conferences, convince my wife to watch our kids each weekend so I can pursue yet another dream, that anything about my circumstances will change. I’ll just be older. Still waiting to be a rock star of some sort.
I do know the next 15 years of my life as a dad I’ll never get back.
Those three little blue-eyed dreams also eclipse any accomplishment I set out to achieve.
Yet, that doesn’t mean it’s quitting time on the dream machine. Stephen King said being involved with his family makes his writing better and that the joy he receives from writing makes him a better husband and father. Dreams are vital, they’re just not everything. Maybe our dreams and pursuits are things that ideally help make us who we are; not distance us from the rest of life.
I wonder if putting the pressure on our dreams to be our “ticket out of here” may be one of the most damaging things we could do to them and to those around us.
I’m convinced that pursuing a dream in the right way leads us to becoming who we’re meant to be, which in turn lifts up everyone around us. Pursuing a dream, even the right thing, in the wrong way ends up with us seeing that the dream, like the cheese, stands alone. And we’ll be standing there with them, wishing we’d done something differently.