Thursday, April 30, 2009

Dreaming Big

I have been reading Randy Pausch's The Last Lecture, a book that rapidly rose to 'favorite' status for me. Which is weird, because I'm generally not a fan of books about Life's Little Lessons, or Lofty Reflections On Life - usually, I go all morbid when I am even in the same room with them.

But Pausch's book has kind of a back door in: the lecture he gave at Carnegie-Mellon University just after he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Feel the morbidity creeping? ... you are free to ignore it, Randy Pausch's 'engineering problem,' as he referred to his cancer, was not really the subject of his last lecture. Instead, it was about the dreams of childhood, and how they made him into the man he became. (I tried to find this on YouTube, but it wouldn't play :-(

Reading the book got my friend Shannon thinking about her childhood dreams, which got me thinking about mine - and Luke's and Owen's, too.

When I asked Owen about his dreams, he gave them to me right away: to be a Dad, cook breakfasts, and "sleep without pajamas." At four, I'm not sure he can really give voice to some of his other dreams, which, judging by his play and the conversations he has with his stuffed buddies, include journeying as a knight and joining the Star Wars universe.

Luke dreams bigger: he wants to be an inventor of time machines and other "trans-dimensional" modes of transport, and he wants to live with the dragons in the woods behind our house.

Here are my childhood dreams:

To do a split all the way to the ground.

To play ice hockey.

To be in Narnia.

To run away and live in the woods, like the boy in My Side of the Mountain.

To be an Olympic skier or ice skater (as a transplanted Canadian, winter sports were BIG, and still are).

I look at my list now, and wonder if it can be said that I've achieved any of my childhood dreams? I am a Yoga instructor and, while I can't do a split all the way to the ground, for me Yoga is a direct result of that first childhood dream.

Ice hockey was out for me (because of my gender - no daughter of my Dad's was going to sit in stinky locker rooms with sweaty boys), but I played field hockey for five years, LOVED it and have several lifelong friends because of it.

I go to Narnia still, every time I read the series - also, I am able to escape reality with great literature all the time, and The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe was the original doorway into that world.

While I do not technically live in the woods like the kid in My Side of the Mountain, the appreciation for nature that this book instilled in me continues to be a part of my life, every day.

And, while I'm certainly not an Olympic skier, I love winter sports and want Luke and Owen to love them too.

I look at my list, and realize that there is a direct connection between these childhood dreams, and the grown-up I have become. It makes me wonder about Luke and Owen: will their dreams come true? And if not, will the fact that they dreamed them at all help contribute to the kind of adulthood they have? I sure hope so.

Well, those are our childhood dreams... what are yours?


Kat said...

I read this book last year and it had a similar effect on me. Self instrospection as to what my childhood dreams were and where they stood now. As a 4th grader I was asked to put together a presentation showing what 'I wanted to be when I grew up'. We were supposed to interview or write to someone that was in the profession and find out what it was like to do it. I wrote to a radio station in my area and received a wealth of information. From that point on I knew I wanted to be in communications. Radio or TV or journalism of some sort. Years ahead in college I still felt that pull and completed my degree in journalism. Other childhood dreams of being a Mom took precedence I have never worked as a journalist, though I have on multiple occasions 'used'
my educaiton. Last summer I had the opportunity to be on a Radio political game show of sorts and while I didn't win the grand prize of going to the Republican Convention as a 'guest' commentator on my favorite radio show, I had a blast and it really ignited my dreams again. I'm not sure exactly how that dream will ultimately be played out, but I did get to talk on the radio which fulfilled one little part of my aspirations. What I did learn or relearn from Randy's book is to seize opportunities when they come. Life really is better that way rather than wondering 'what if'.

Mister Dad said...

Cool post. I always had the idea that Randy never stopped or arrived at the end of his dreams. It's so part of living and breathing, and makes us look forward to the next one we have! There is a sense of adaptation and evolution of childhood dreams I had-- to be an artist, an eccentric, a revolutionary. Of course I missed the marrying a german shepherd, like the one on the Strongheart Dogfood commercials. But the little lady is a quarter German, with a mighty bite to boot!

Anonymous said...

The sad thing is that I think I have forgotten many of my childhood dreams...your post had me trying hard to pull back a few. I remember wanting to be a gymnast. I had flexible EVERYTHING back then. Unfortunately for me (and hubby too) I'm just not as rubbery as I used to be. I wanted to travel to Australia for some reason. REALLY wanted to. I haven't watched the film "Australia" yet. Maybe I'm afraid it will stir up some of the old angst. And thanks to Anne of Green Gables, I wanted to live in Prince Edward Island. I still do...that much hasn't changed. ;)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this. It really got me thinking about my childhood dreams in relation to my life now, and I feel very fortunate that many of them have come true in some way. I wanted to be a singer and a writer, and I've been both. Now, I hope that my daughter's dreams,whatever they are, come true for her, too.

The Stone Age Techie said...

Kat - I am glad you got to realize your childhood dream so recently, gives me hope for some of mine that I haven't quite fulfilled yet (though, probably not the Olympics one)

Mister Dad - I love that idea of the evolution of childhood dreams, I think that is definitely true in my case.

Topsy - can I just say how much I LOVE Ann of Green Gables? Though, I only just read it this past fall - shameful for a transplanted Canadian :-)
I think of Anne, and the path that she and Diana scared themselves silly on by telling spooky stories, every time I go out in my yard after dark, it makes me smile!

Susan - I have the same hopes for my kids :-)