Thursday, September 18, 2008

Still Time to Dream

I told my son that I was so proud of him for following his dreams. He is 22 1/2 years old and has always wanted to put his voice to music/rap. I am not keen on his choice of genre, but it is his dream. That's the point, it was his dream and he had something to say. And he didn't let anyone sway him. He made connections with people who had a studio and worked out studio time, he found someone who was a writer along with his own lyrics, he developed the sound trac and he drew the artwork on his CDs. He is also an entrepreneur and born salesman, he is selling his CDs through grassroots efforts. It is a beginning and it is his dream.

I told him "don't bankrupt your future to pay for the past." He said, "wow, that's deep mama." It came through my thoughts of my mother's life and dreams and the fact that next month, she would've been gone 40 years. I am exactly the same age as my mother was a month before she passed away. It is pivotal to me as I think about the things she wanted to do but sexism, racism, religion, discrimination, expectations, regrets, family, health and a lot of other obstacles shattered her dreams like glass falling from the skyscrapers in Houston. There was so much she took to the grave.

As the calendar turns and the days slip away, I've been thinking a lot about my dreams.

Thoughts about dreams had me examining my own life. I remember exploring options of what I wanted to be when I was growing up. My dad always supported my writing and read every story I ever wrote, yet he never told me being a writer was a career option. There was one day I told him I wanted to be a lawyer (he had his law degree) and he told me I didn't have temperament. I will never know because I didn't pursue it. I thought about being a "child psychologist" because it sounded like something profound to answer. In reality, back in the late 70s and early 80s of my teen years, I didn't know what I wanted to be, I just knew college was in my future and that I loved to write.

My father was more practical than dreaming when he told me to get my secretarial degree. I told him I didn't want to be anyone's secretary. He told me it would be something for me to fall back on. I went to technical school before I went to college. I chose college in the same town where he lived and often wondered what would've happened if I had gone away to school.

There was a moment when I stopped and realized twenty-six years has slipped by, twenty-six years since I was a high-school graduate. The years tumbled like clothes in my son's closet. Where did it all go? I thought about it as I watch my young men (almost 23 and newly 20) navigate their path along this life journey. One always talked about being a writer, artist, rapper and is on the quest to realize his dream, the other always talked about living in Australia, while in Japan, he is living his dream of world travel. The years when they were little flash before my eyes and I want to turn back the clock to my youth with the wisdom of my forties.

There was a fork-in-the-road decision for me to either bankrupt my future because of the past or embrace the experiences on the road I'd traveled. I decided to do the latter.

Forgetting the past is sometimes easier said than done. There probably isn't a person alive who doesn't have a regret about a decision they made or a sadness about an opportunity they missed. It is probably human to muse about one's live as one reaches the so-called "middle age." I get notices from AARP and reminders to make sure my life-insurance is up-to-date. The beaches on the front of a lot of those postcards promising leisure in retirement have gone the way of the Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, AIG, and Merrill Lynch financial woes, there might not be a beachfront in my near future, but there is still possibility, and that is what makes me smile.

My eldest sister will be sixty this year. She redefined herself and is living richly. She earned her Ph.D and is a cultural anthropologist at a major university. Every time I talk with her, I smile at the thought of who she is. She is 16 years my senior and I have so much more to learn. One big lesson she taught me was to be true to myself and forget the naysayers, to go for my dream, there is only one life and live it fully, make no enemies and make no apologizes for choosing what is best for my peace.

I realized that while I have accomplished a lot in my life (I earned my MBA with my sons in tow) there are still things I want to do. I have made a promise to myself to just go for it, the dream. I am redefining myself every day and gave myself permission to be ok with it even if it goes against the mainstream.

Life is a wonderful gift. There are places I want to visit, coffees I want to drink, cookies I want to taste, art I want to see. Even as I think about my mother and her promise, I realize the most precious legacy she gave me is the knowledge that there is still time to dream.

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