We Don’t Get To Be Here Long

Bu-BUMP, bu-BUMP, goes the blood in my jugular vein, as if my blood vessels are a track and the blood cells are thoroughbreds, surging towards the finish line. I stomp the accelerator and turn the wheel into the mat of blackberry vines, very aware that my body is being forced back into the seat as we climb. A grumble of mud and stones, a scrape, and we slide gracefully on to the mossy space below the yellow beeches. It is 23° but my cheeks are hot. “Thank you, Jesus!” I squeak, and Harley pants and yawns loudly, as she does every time we live through a moment of terror.

Fear stomps on my lungs every time I think of driving up that lane. Some of you will shake your heads and sigh, and some of you will understand.

The only reason I began driving to the top of my dirt lane at all is because my father showed me how and then said, “It’s your turn.” I hate being wimpy in front of him after he shows me how to do something. It’s like saying, “You are a liar, Dad.”

The only reason I made it to the top of my dirt lane the second time, and the 202nd time, was because once you start going up, you can’t stop. Stopping is actually dangerous. Driving up just feels dangerous.

Once I had to jump start my car in a black parking lot, all alone. Slump-backed in the rain, I shivered and prayed for 32 minutes before finally connecting the clamps. My hand would go towards the battery, and then jerk away.

I’ve learned recently that dream-chasers fall into two categories: Tryers and Doers.

Tryers have options. They can say, “I am trying for my lifeguard certification. I’m training 14 hours a week, but I honestly doubt I will pass the test.” They never sign up for the test, because they don’t think they will pass it. Reasons, reasons, reasons…. all very valid and unable to be explained away.

Doers do not have options. They say, “I will refuse to be comfortable until I have set up a new way of life. By hook or by crook, I will get there, and no delay.”

The thing with trying, is that you are never truly a failure. If you set out to TRY, you can rationalize success either way. You will stand in the parking lot, in the dark rain, wasting time because you are trying to jump the car but you must first evaluate all the dangers.

If you set out to DO, there is only one way to win. You will put your foot to the accelerator, knowing once you begin you will not be ‘safe’ until you reach the goal.

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You do the thing, and no delay, because you refuse to say, “You are a liar, Dad.”

Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

I know I am.

 

 

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Guardian of a million dreams

Life is a comedy for those who think; a tragedy for those who feel. Unfortunately, dream molders are feelers.

“Teachers. You are the molders of their dreams. The gods who build or crush their young beliefs of right or wrong.You are the spark that sets aflame the poet’s hand, or lights the flame of some great singer’s song.You are the gods of the young, the very young. You are the guardian of a million dreams.

Your every smile or frown can heal or pierce a heart. Yours are a hundred lives, a thousand lives, yours the pride of loving them, and the sorrow, too.

Your patient work, your touch, make you the gods of hope who fill their souls with dreams to make those dreams come true…” Guy Doud’s voice was strong and calm as he quoted the words penned by Clark Mollenhoff. He, if any, could utter them with conscience unashamed.

The twelve years that kids are in high school are the twelve most vulnerable years of their life. Dreams are made or broken there. Paradigms of values and self-worth are formed. A child’s place in society is clearly played out, and they discover whether they have what it takes to be loved, respected and wanted. They learn about themselves through the eyes of others. And unless someone intervenes, they will graduate with the hurts of a lifetime on their shoulders.

Dream molders are feelers. They understand that hurting kids aren’t afraid of failure. Failure is their life. It is normal for them, therefore, they can’t be motivated by the fear of it. Kids are motivated only by love.

This is why dream molders choose to see beyond the exterior, beyond the moment. A teen who others view as an obese, insecure adolescent, they see as a child who has incredible potential to change the world. Dream molders see beyond the external, beyond the mask, to the very soul of a person.  Like a diamond in the rough, muddy and crystallized, they see beyond the exterior to what it will be–a beautifully cut gem set in a band of silver or gold. An adornment of society. And they care, they care enough to invest their time, money, blood, sweat, tears and prayers into making a person become that gem. They care.  And because they care, they create change.

Dream molders? Ehh, they are an unstable and disillusioned lot. What would cause a gourmet chef to give a clumsy child free range of a kitchen–squandered resources, splattered woodwork, mounds of dirty dishes, and countless broken pots and pans notwithstanding? Is a smudgy, wobble-lined recipe book scrawled by the hand of a ten-year-old really a worthwhile result of all the hassle?

Not now, but the chef has a teacher’s heart, and she sees ahead. She sees down the road, to where the scrawling recipe book turns into seared scallops, juicy wood-smoked steaks, and countless batches of homemade cookies delivered to someone’s door. And what does the student learn? He learns that he has a gift. He learns that food can comfort the most ravaged heart. He learns that creativity and personal touch can bless far beyond words. And the teacher smiles, because she knew his amazing potential all along. But it would have been impossible for him to believe it. He needed to see it for himself.

We walk through life totally unaware of the scores of tiny mirrors who reflect the effects of our actions. I am–we all are–the guardians of a million dreams.

When will our actions become messengers of hope to fill their souls with dreams to make those dreams come true?