Sandy Denny’s line sums it up the best “But I’m a dreamer and you know, I’m a schemer with an eye for show”. I am a dreamer and I am a schemer. Secured by safety pin, acting as an impenetrable force field, my “superhero” blanket drove me across the universe slaying all who dared defy me. Conan the Barbarian, Han Solo, He-Man, Batman it didn’t matter. If I had seen the movie I wanted to be in the movie. Anything and everything was possible inside this child’s imagination. Quentin Tarantino would have had a field day. As a matter of fact I imagine Tarantino holed up in some opium den writing code for this child’s reality. This brings me to the philosophical question of this entry – why abandon our dreams, hopes and aspirations?
The world has, and continues to be, populated by extraordinary people. Often, these people achieve extraordinary feats leaving future legacies that define their generation. The pyramids of Giza have been dated to near on 3,000 BC. The Roman Republic reigned for 1,200 years. 2,000 years ago ancient Greek philosophers, mathematicians and scientists proposed, pondered and solved problems with what we today term “primitive technology”. Winston Churchill made a prophetic statement when he said “history is written by the victors”. It is Winston and it makes me wonder how many truly amazing human feats and pieces of knowledge have been lost and forgotten (i.e. the accidental burning of the Library of Alexandria). The point is, if you have a moment of illumination the odds are, someone 2,000 years ago probably had the same thought.
In recent weeks I have begun to remind myself of a comment I made to the people who helped celebrate my 21st birthday – “I’m not sure what it is, but feel like I am supposed to do something great with my life”. I am thankful as I have been blessed with many talents. At the tender age of 29, this is only something I have come to accept and appreciate. Formerly, I had not appreciated these gifts often treating them with disdain, reluctance, arrogance and frankly, sheer stupidity. James A. Froude opined “experience teaches slowly and at the cost of mistakes”. If Froude was writing my life script, that would be an appropriate tag line. I have failed more than I care to admit. Now, I am not ashamed to admit that the fear of failure drove me rather than the hope and drive of success. Someone recently told me “don’t be afraid to embarrass yourself and fail.” What wise words they were. Despite two national senior championships, four junior national championships, an international junior bronze medal and a host of fond memories, given the perceived talent I entered track and field with I don’t consider my athletic career a success more a shadow of what it could have been. My father on the other hand, does. Perspective is an interesting thing.
In 2008, my entire world was torn down. Effectively, my track and field career was over the moment I broke my leg in Beijing. Another tumultuous event several months down the track sent me further into the abyss. At times like this childhood dreams, hopes and aspirations become irrelevant as one enters into the realm of philosophy. Why me? Now, I know why me. Franklin Jones states “It’s always helpful to learn from your mistakes because then your mistakes seem worthwhile”. Earvin “Magic” Johnson remarks “if you feel defeated then you’re going to lose”. It’s a natural feeling to want to “roll over and die”. Fortunately the human spirit is a wonderful thing and although the world will keep on turning without you, a person owes it to themselves to get up and wade through the muck. Giving up on life is not an option. It may take a year or it may take ten. The underlying point is no matter what the circumstance release your Dewey Bozella (if you haven’t heard of Dewey I suggest googling his story), adjust to the situation and keep fighting. Personally, my four years after the Beijing incident have been filled with many challenges, crushed hopes and dreams but also personal triumph and re-assessment/re-adjustment. It may be a change of focus, but hey, who didn’t have more than one dream as a child? For all my faults and challenges faced, I’m a better person for overcoming adversity than enjoying the fruits of success.
Every child has dreams. Some dream of being an astronaut, some dream of being a Hollywood star and as is the case with my young and wildly entertaining Dennis the Menace-like cousin, a man. No child wants to grow up being unemployed or a drug addict. They are a product of their environment, the opportunities afforded and levels of support. People often remark that it’s the journey and not the destination that matters. Fuck that. The journey and the destination are not mutually exclusive. They are as important as one another. Point A to point B is the simplest approach. I can assure you, no person in the history of mankind has taken the simple A-B journey. Every success story runs A-Z then B decides to pop up where opportunity meets timing. An overnight success is rarely an overnight success. I’m in the camp that generally believes people are optimists hoping for a better tomorrow. No matter how misguided an endeavour, it’s fuelled by some want for betterment. Take a chance and have a crack at your dream no matter how difficult a concept. Perhaps that’s just me but I’d rather die not wondering than reflect on what could have been. The worst thing any person can do is to abandon our childhood dreams, hopes and aspirations. You may be 50 or you may be 70 and no matter how out there your dream may be, have a go.
If you continue to chase the easy things in life you’ll never achieve your dreams no matter how difficult they may appear. I could leave you with some great quote or a quirky punch line but I won’t. Instead I’ll leave you with this – the pods who want to receive this message from the mothership will.