What is a dream worth?
Is there a driver out there on America’s highways who doesn’t dream? Or hasn’t at one time dreamed? I met a trucker at a show recently as we looked around the cab of a new tractor. He said he was “just a driver,” but once he’d dreamed of being a country singer. “What happened?” I asked.
“Don’t really know,” he said, “I just sort of gave up on it.” At first I thought I couldn’t get it out of my mind because it was so damned sad. Then I wondered if it was because there have been times I’ve thought of letting go.
Dreams make us fully alive. They test us and demand our heart’s best. But a lost dream can burn in the pit of your stomach like hot sour milk. It can bring you to your knees. It can turn you into someone who changes the way he lives each day and desperately tries to change the way he thinks. What was once a dream becomes something you describe with a chuckle, something that was important when you still believed in fairy tales, something a green youngster didn’t know was just an illusion.
But now, you say, you are older and wiser and those dreams were just that, figments, chimeras, fancies, the imaginings of a wannabe who thought being a country music star, a mountain climber or a writer would make him the most complete man he could be.
Nowadays, well, ha ha, I know better. Now my feet are firmly planted on this terra firma and I know what is what. Dreams are for adolescents and fools, they leave you with stars in your eyes so bright you can’t see the road ahead and that road is where I have to drive. My life happens on a very real road, not pursuing some idea I once had into the wilds of who knows where. No, I stay here these days, on the straight and narrow. I’m glad I grew up. Yes sir, I’m sure glad I grew up and got wise.
And with those changes comes a tiredness, because your goals are now so much easier. There is a lethargy because there is no longer a reason to push yourself and push yourself and push yourself like you used to. And with those changes comes bitterness, nastiness and the put-downs when along comes someone who has never lost sight of his dream, never given up. Because in them you can see yourself and you wonder if they will see the light as you have or foolishly keep after it until they fail. But maybe they’ll make it, and then that will hurt more because they will become a mirror where you’ll see you could have made it too.
There is a physical pain as the reality you preach pulls you one way but people in your life, especially young people, pull you the other. Your children dream, people you love dream, a young driver down the truckstop counter from you dreams, and now you have to tell them it is a waste of time. Will you do that?
Never stop working for your dream. You have to earn it. Dreams that are bought don’t count. The billionaire who always wanted to be a cowboy and who uses his wealth to take a shortcut to it while he keeps getting richer in the stock market isn’t worth spit.
But if you look around and suddenly it has gone, slipped away when you weren’t looking, check your side mirrors. That road is your past. Things have happened back there. But it is the road your wheels have yet to touch that makes the difference now. A dream is not meant to be easy; it’s not even meant to be reachable with certainty. But you dreamed once, and there’s not a single good reason not to do it again. Give it air, give it life again.
I’d rather keep dreaming, flying in the face of a world that says I’m not going to make it, than to be sensible and stay down here on the ground muttering to anyone that will listen, mostly myself, that the person flying around up there is a fool, he’d been much safer and richer down here on the ground with me.
Not reaching your dream is not a sin. Giving up on it is.
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