Last night I went for a long walk in McArthur. In some parts of town that means I walked in a well lit area and had no reason to be concerned of finding obstacles in my way. In other parts of town, however, the streets were very dark and I had to rely on the small amount of light that was shining from other areas to provide me with enough illumination to know where to put my feet down with each step I took. I did have my cell phone with me and could have used that to provide a guiding light for myself, but instead I was Facebooking, which means the light wasn’t shining on the road, it was shining in my eyes and making it even more difficult to see where I was going. Instead of walking in a straight line I was all over the road. I stepped of the sidewalk into the street or into the grass on the other side. I learned that texting and driving is far easier than texting and walking, especially in the dark. I think next time I go for a walk at night I will leave my phone in my pocket so I don’t get picked up for public intoxication.
It seems like the older I get the more my walk in life becomes like my walk through McArthur. I have one set direction – a set path I want to walk in, but I find myself distracted by other things that throw me off course and make me step off the path. The road is darkened by the night and the distractions are too heavy at times for me to find my way. I’ve stepped off the path far too many times, it seems, and I wish I could just get to where I’m wanting to go. I can’t. I’m intoxicated by the world around me and my fullest potential cannot be reached this way.
I want to walk a straight line. I want to walk tall and bold. I want to stand above the crowd. Somehow, somewhere along this path I got off track. I stepped off of the course and my walk led me astray. I’m just a simple man and I don’t know much, but I know this: It is so much easier to work to build someone else’s dream than it is to work on building your own. I’m going to keep walking. I’m sure I’ll step off of the path again..and again, and again, and again. I may never even get to where I’m going because of my inability to walk straight, but I’m going to walk. I’m sure most people who are reading this have stepped off the path in their own lives at times. Some may have their foot in the grass right now wondering how they ever got away from where they were wanting to go. I bet we all get this way sometimes. Let’s all continue to fight through our distractions and keep our feet moving one right in front of the other. I think death may be the only destination we ever actually reach in life and the only thing that should matter to us is the steps we’ve taken all along the way. Sometimes I feel like people are critical of my walk. To those people I would like to say this: I don’t walk this road for you. I walk it for me. If you don’t like where I’m going, watch out, because you’re probably going to put your foot in a ditch. You should probably be focused on your own steps, not mine. Get back on the path.
I went to the Reds/Indians game over the fourth of July weekend with my girlfriend. My girlfriend is from Cleveland and has always been an Indians fan so when the game ended with the score of 8-2 in favor of the Indians, I thought that my night had gotten even better. We watched the post-game fireworks show and then headed out on our long journey back to my house in McArthur – a two and a half hour trip. I have only been to Cincinnati a few times, so I am not very familiar with the proper navigation to get back on the highway that will get me back home quickly. All we had to rely on was her GPS. So I tried to make the best with what we had. Now, I’m not sure if any of you guys have ever tried to drive in unfamiliar territory with a woman who wants to get somewhere, but it can be an unpleasant situation if you don’t get her to where she wants to go and quickly. For her the destination was Steak-N-Shake. Trying to rely on the GPS to get on the right road and Google Maps for the nearest Steak-N-Shake, we ended up going several miles off the correct route and deeper into unfamiliar territory. The great night was turning into a nightmare rather quickly for both of us.
After spending a while on the wrong route we decided that Steak-N-Shake was out of the question. We agreed that by the time we arrived at the next one, we wouldn’t be hungry enough to eat. Instead we would be ready to lay our heads on a pillow and go to sleep. It was already late and we still had a long ride ahead of us. We were discouraged and hungry, but we were headed home. I decided that the GPS was going to take me home regardless of whether or not I knew the route so I figured that I would just follow it home and quite trying to get back to a road I was more familiar with. I took the first exit I saw so I could grab a somewhere to go and get back home on the alternate route that had been given to us. Even though a decision had been made on which way we would get back home, I couldn’t help but wish I were in the passenger seat. It’s never fun to get lost, especially if getting lost is affecting the person in your passenger seat too. Both of us were hungry and irritated at the way the night was turning out to be. Even though we wanted Steak-N-Shake, we gave up on food. We just wanted to get back.
Shortly after I had taken the exit, in the midst of our discussion about dropping the idea of food, my girlfriend started laughing. I wasn’t sure what she was laughing about, but I wasn’t in the mood to laugh. I just wanted to get home. I looked up and what did I see directly ahead? A sign for Steak-N-Shake. It wasn’t the same Steak-N-Shake we had planned to drive to, but it was a Steak-N-Shake nonetheless. We were both instantly revived from our bad moods. We still had a more than two hour trip ahead of us, but we had just arrived at one of our destinations, one we had thought we were going to miss. It was very amazing to me that we would arrive at a Steak-N-Shake after I had intentionally ignored a few of the turns the GPS told me to take and I finally decided to take it’s advice. When I did, I reached my destination.
While this story is amusing to me, and may be to the readers of this blog, it also gives a very real representation of what many of us experience every day in our own personal walk in life. Many of us start with a strategic plan to reach a specific destination in life. With time these plans change for most of us. None of us can control what will happen in our lives from one day to the next. Some of us even give up and decide that we may never reach the place in life that we wanted to go. I found out over the weekend that there is still hope even when you are lost. You may not even know the way, but you can still find your destination. We had given up on Google. We gave up on the GPS. All we had was a general idea on how to get home. What we found was even better. We found the only thing that either of us really wanted that night. It wasn’t the food. It was a working plan. We all have hope. Keep your head up as you walk through this life. It doesn’t matter how lost you may think you are in life, your accidental arrival could come any minute. You might be one exit away from reaching it. Don’t give up. Keep going. You may not be lost at all.
Today I attended a local event that began only a few short years ago, but has quickly drawn a great number of visitors. The event focuses on a mythological world of fairies, trolls and pirates and many other characters we don’t see in the every day world that we live in. Many different age groups participated in the event as it drew similar crowds with a wide range of personalities showing up for the very same cause – to bring their fantasy world to life. I wasn’t sure when the event first began how well it would be received among the community, but it has been a huge hit and I don’t believe it will slow down anytime soon. As long as this event continues to attract people, I’m sure the community I live in will see it more and more as time carries on.
I am not much of a person to get into character for events such as the festival I attended today. While I did enjoy watching others act out a world of imagination and wonder, I was fine being the camera guy who was there to snap pictures of it. That is all I needed to be. Sometimes I do very good to find the time to play out the role of being myself, let alone another character. I enjoyed watching other people live out their fantasies at the festival. It reminded me of a similar hope I have had for myself for quite some time. I want to live out my dreams.
What I learned at the festival is that dreams and fantasies are very different from one another. We can put on a costume and act out a specific character. We can role play and become the very object we desire with little imagination required. Living out the fantasy world is an easy process that anyone can learn to complete. We can all live in a fantasy world if we would like to, or we could attend festivals as a pirate or a princess. It doesn’t matter what we want to do, our fantasies have no limit as long as our imaginations don’t either. The dreams we have set for our lives are quite different though. I don’t dream to sail the seas on a pirate ship and find buried treasure. I dream to have a decent job and a nice house with a happy family to fill it with excitement every day. I dream to love like I’ve never loved before and have the same in return and never lose the spark that ignited the flame that led to a lifetime of happiness. I dream that my kids will be successful because of a drive and dedication that was given to them through watching their father climb the ladder of success and always strive to reach the top. These are dreams. You can’t put a costume on to achieve any of this.
When I left the festival today, I realized I was walking out of a fantasy world. It was a world that people imagined and brought to life. In the same way, I feel we all dream up ideas about who we should be or how we should be or what we should become and we try to make it a reality. The reality is though, we are not what our dreams are. We are dreamers. We are dreamers who hopefully someday will reach the goals we have mapped out for our lives. Some of us will reach those dreams and some of us will not. My fear in life is that my dreams will always be dreams and will never become a reality. I want to be able to enjoy the fantasies of life, but I want to live my dream. I don’t want to put a costume on and pretend to be everything I ever wanted. I don’t want to hide behind a masked smile that says I have arrived at my destination in life. I want to live my dream. All of my life I have been a dreamer. I’m ready to live. I don’t want to role play anymore.