Painted Wagon - Discourse on Dreaming

A dear friend of mine gave me a book on the occasion of my attaining the ripe age where potential membership in AARP was added to my list of achievable goals. It was “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch. A thoroughly enjoyable read of some significance in my life, given the laundry list of mortality issues I encountered with the attainment of senior citizenship.

There is an entire section of the book devoted to his perceptions on achieving childhood dreams. I read this book to students where I can for the wonderful message in it about staying positive and seeking to bring about positive action in their lives. I also seek the same, as witnessed by my writing. It is a good thing to dream. I was told as a child that dreaming would not help me unless I took some action. This book details action taken by the author, and the actual achievement of childhood dreams.

Well, I wonder, what is a dream? I know what the dictionary says. I know what I think. I do not know, unfortunately, how to achieve a dream once I have it. There are many dreams that, at face value, seem unattainable. Being the Captain of the USS Enterprise, whichever incarnation is available, and boldly going where no man has ever gone is probably not going to happen until someone invents warp drive, or some substitute.

I always thought that the old television show “The Millionaire” was like, way cool. Think about it. Having so much money that your hobby is handing out money, a million dollars at a time. Well, hard as I try, my frighteningly brilliant mind has never understood financial practices. I keep a roof over my head, and if there is such a thing as extra money, I have no idea where it might be found. Pecuniary Nirvana to me is, the cable bill paid, and a sausage pizza once a week.

Being a rock star always appeared desirable. Lots of women, plenty of drugs, and money money, money as far as the eye can see. I got there once…well almost. I spent some time as a roadie for a hard rock club band. The band was not much and, as I remember, I barely got paid. The drugs where there and the females abounded. Drugs proved a major difficulty for me in that I, some twenty years ago, figured out that sustained and continual use of mind altering mood changing substances might cause dereliction and homelessness. As to the women, well, most of them wanted the guitar player, and few of them bought the con job I tried by telling them that if they hung with me for a night…

I never did the obligatory police officer of firefighter thing, which seemed to be the venue of many young men. I always wanted to be a pirate or a gangster. Pictures came to my mind of standing on the foredeck of a great wooden sailing ship yelling “AARRGGHH” or “Avast ye mateys” which looked real cool to that young man brought up on old Errol Flynn, Buster Crabbe, and Douglas Fairbanks (Senior and Junior) movies I would watch with my father on Saturday afternoons. I could realistically envision myself standing on the top of a big oil tank in a burning refinery screaming “Top of the World Ma!!” but alas, that is still just a dream.

Perhaps dreaming is not as much about fantasy as it is about deep yearning. For one reason or another there was always greener grass on the other side of the fence for me. I never felt comfortable in my own skin. This troubled me for many years, and kept me stuck in whatever unreasonable and/or unreachable dream of better things. I think back on all the missed opportunities in my life attributable to unrealistic expectations. These memories no longer haunt me. Today I am satisfied with what has given me to most satisfaction in life. You are experiencing it at this precise moment. I am a writer and you are my reader. In my limited world of dreams and fantasies that is the best of all possible worlds.

There is a level at which self-esteem plays a part in molding dreams. It is the place where you are either good enough or wasting your time. I was four years old the first time I read a book. It was a comic book and the single attribute of that publication that fascinated me the most were the words. Sure, the pictures were pretty cool, but the words told me what was happening. With that first comic I, which I did not understand, I went on to learn the alphabet and then what words were and ultimately to putting words on a page for others to read. Possibly this is the noblest of actions. Possibly this is the thing that brings me most near to God. Possibly it is the way I realize my dreams.

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