This I Believe

James - Corpus Christi, Texas
Entered on August 17, 2008


Follow your dreams,” they told us. “You can be anything, even an astronaut.” Astronauts were big then, bigger than any canine carrying celebrity you can name. “Okay,” I said. “I choose recess.” I believed then, as I do now, when it comes to dreams anything goes.

Unfortunately our paths to realizing dreams are fraught with wrong turns and detours. Take mine for example. I was the heir apparent, the setter of tables, the starter of rallies, the all vital cog of championships to be won. With a confidence belying my nine years nothing was more certain in my mind than my succession to Bobby Richardson as second baseman for the New York Yankees. The organization need only wait until I finished the fourth grade before printing the baseball cards.

My rise to baseball stardom ended when I reached my teen years. By then all that was cute and female would begin to occupy my thoughts. Cancel the reservations to Cooperstown.

In high school a new dream took hold. I was to be the next conductor of the New York Philharmonic. I would mold mountains and sway entire oceans with my interpretations of the great works of Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven. Symphonies from everywhere in the world would seek my musical prowess. Put away your baton and step aside Lenny, I’ll take it from here.

Alas, I found musical genius a far more demanding discipline than I could reasonably devote to. There were parties to attend and tons of mischief to create. Sorry Ludwig, I’m not your guy.

After graduation I came to realize my approach to dreams was flawed. I had chosen them as I would a new pair of sneakers, picking from the flashiest and shiniest displays. I decided I must instead look for dream characteristics most conducive to my personality, which at age eighteen was girls and sleeping late. For almost half an hour I thought hard but was unable to reach any decisions, and then it came to me. I would run the Playboy Mansion. Uncle Hugh would welcome me with tailor fitted PJs.

Knowing I would need money for a new pipe, I sought quick employment. In the course of my job search I was granted an interview for a position as a long distance operator for the phone company. Upon my hire I found myself as one of a handful of young males surrounded by two hundred female co-workers working the 1PM – 10PM shift. Close, but no playboy bunny.

Now in my middle age my dream is simple; to wake up every morning to a fresh pot of coffee and write. In writing I can feel the thrill of turning a double play, live the passion of music. As for the Playboy thing, I’m still working on that one. In my current lifelong dream I live every new day in a constant state of creativity, or as a wise former writing tutor of mine refers to it, recess.