I recall being around four years old and an adult would ask what I wanted to be when I grew up. My response was “just like Davy Crockett”. That had a lot to do with my prized fringed gloves like those Davy wore in the 50’s Disney series. I always felt more grown up when I wore them when actually I looked more like a little kid with silly dreams to the big people. I saw the giggles and laughs when my dream was expressed, but I just knew they were wrong. Theirs was not my reality and I somehow knew my dream could come true.
When in the third grade the question from an uncle was what was I going to be when I was a “big boy”. Ole Davy had been left behind and the gloves had become ratty and lost. A new response popped out of my young mouth. “I’m going to be an astronaut”. The time was the beginning of the space age and those new American heroes were all over the television. I remember more than once a big part of a school day was watching black and white TV while a launch was counted down, put on hold and then counted down some more. When answering the “big boy” question I saw the “not a chance” looks on my uncle’s face, but did not care as I knew he was wrong. I could be anything I wanted to be!
Around my 12th year on the planet I discovered the novels of Ian Fleming. Apparently most adults had not read them for how else could I be allowed to read books so racy without them stopping me. While the content was really just “R-rated stuff” there were passages about 007 being in bed with a woman at least two or three times in “Dr. No”, the first of the series I read. Being almost a teenage boy, such things were of interest to me (OK, strong interest). My desire to grow up and be a secret agent was confirmed when I saw Ursula Andress as ‘Honey Rider’ in the film version of “Dr. No”. How much better could it be than to be a hero like Sean Connery leading an exciting life and spending time in bed with beautiful women? I told no adults about this dream, because I knew they wouldn’t believe me and it would probably get me in trouble anyway.
In high school I developed an interest in sciences through chemistry and physics classes. I amended my “gonna-be-when-grown-up” goal to a combination of Albert Einstein and James Bond. I knew it had to be possible. I had seen pictures of Albert with Marilyn Monroe taken at parties. So I could be as dashing as Bond and better looking than Albert. Even with thoughts of such things I was beginning to become aware of adult realities. A rugged home life, a darn near evil stepfather, a heartbreak or two and the civil strife of the late 60’s was teaching me that life does not turn out how it is dreamed to be.
Before long I was caught up in trying to survive, get by and fit in. Finding a way to support myself and bettering my lot in life became necessary driving forces. I began to stop dreaming and started to become practical and realistic. My heart was broken several times. I got fired. I moved to new places and experienced severe loneliness. I mismanaged money and my car was repossessed twice. There was not enough money and I did not know how to manage what I did have. There was no family support, save that of my younger brother a thousand miles away and he was having his own survival issues. I can could say my dreams died a slow death but truth is in my early 20’s their demise was rapid. I simply stopped dreaming of what might be.
Seven or eight years later, there was a little spark of a dream that began to take hold. It was the fancy of being a great photographer. There had been a little of it late in high school, but that little “almost dream” got buried then before it fully sprouted. In my late 20’s that daydream found some new life. This dream grew and then climaxed prematurely in my late 30’s and early 40’s with a home studio and darkroom for about eight years. I started to dream again, got published, had a showing at an art gallery and for a little while thought I was on my way to a life as a fashion and fine arts photographer. Then I relocated, did not get to build the studio in the back yard I hoped for due to a divorce, digital overtook film and even my prints had to be stored away because I took as a partner a woman who saw any image I had taken of a female model as a threat. She even ripped up my primary portfolio of about fifty 11×14 prints some years ago. My dream of being a great photographer died and then got stomped on.
Who have been the murderers of my dreams: ADULTS! When we give up our childlike wonder and youthful hope, we begin to die a little quicker and wither away a bit faster. When we are children, grownups mean no harm when their usually but not always hidden scoffs show toward childish dreams. Simply adults already believe almost all children will give up their dreams one day, just like they did. And who has been the most brutal murderer of my dreams? ME! But no more!
There is something about the feeling of possibly falling in love that rekindles bright and youthful things within, not the least of which is thoughts of lasting, rich and fulfilling endearment with another. With that real possibility in my life it is through my heart my thoughts are passing these days. That view is awakening my dreams. Through hard work, therapy and recovery I am now happy, truly happy for the first time in my life (and its not drug induced either!). Happiness is fertile ground for love and for growing dreams.
Today my thoughts of being like Davy Crockett, James Bond, Albert Einstein or even an astronaut make me smile to remember. Such fantasies are only remnants of the past that do however remind me that dreams have to be a little impractical to be real. Many dreams do not come true, but none come true that are not dreamed! And so today, I realize it is the dreaming that matters most. Seeing them come true is meaningful, but to never stop wishing and hoping is most important. I am grateful to feel that truth ringing soundly within me.