Sunday, October 14, 2007

It Was As Far As They Could Dream

Life Balance: a feat we try to achieve while searching to be the best that we can we, while simultaneously raising our children to do the same. This is the equilibrium in our inner life force whereby our heartbeat matches the divine force that exists all around us. When this life balance peaks, our sense of peace, joy, love and wisdom act as one with our very souls.

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.-- Eleanor Roosevelt

We received the Sears "Wish Book" in the mail last week. I remember eagerly paging through the Sears catalog as a child and eagerly composing my wish list for Christmas. The haven't published the book in the last 14 years, so my kids did not have the pleasure of doing the same when they were little. Not all the need is the Best Buy add to compose a list that will take me 5 minutes to purchase and 5 years to pay off.

When they were little, it was great to encourage them in their dreams of the moment; the fire truck and helmet, the police car and badge, the princess crown and pink tutu. Dreams were so simple, but in their choices of toys were the real life elements of careers that might interest them someday. We encourage our children in so many ways to live up to their potential, to gravitate toward their natural interests, to believe in themselves and be what they are meant to be.

Be all you can be. Just do it. Grab the bull by the horns. "Hey, your never know, it's a dollar and a dream."

Many of the way in which we help our children develop is just by helping them to open their mind to new things and new ideas. We try to expand their horizons by showing them the world outside of which they live. To believe they can have anything they want. Dream it, think about it, save pictures of, think about what your life might be like if you did that, and picture yourself there, doing it, owing it, experiencing it.

In the movie "Cheaper by the Dozen," Steve Martin is trying to get his 12 children together at one time to take a family picture for the Christmas cards. The oldest daughter is off with the boyfriend, so Steve says he will photo shop her in the picture. Then of course everyone would like to be photo shopped in, rather that rearranging their schedules to do the real thing. Its kinda funny in the movie, that technology was replacing a "real" family moment.

A friend at work likes to photo shop himself in events at Ball games with co-workers that live in other parts of the world. It's funny in that he is bringing himself together with people he works with, talks with, co-designs reports with, has meetings with, but can't actually be with in today's global workplace. In this instance, he is creating moments that can't happen as reality. But then one day, he took a home vacation, and each workday, sent us a different picture of himself in Paris. He was standing in front of the Eiffel tower and we all laughed. We posted the pictures and other co-workers were jealous of his fabulous dream vacation.

So we asked him one day when he was really going to Paris. He was surprised by this, since his answer automatically came out "never." It set him back, and made him think, when did he stop dreaming? When did his dreams shrink down to the area he lived in?

Neighbors of a family friend lived in a poor section of the city. The houses there are from the turn of the 20th century, working class housing stock on very narrow lots. Very dilapidatedhouses that often share a driveway with the house next door. House values run in the low teens. Often people own cars that are worth more.

So the family friend shared a driveway and had a restored '69 Cuda with a custom paint job in the driveway, with their sons motorcycle parked behind it, and another car and a van behind that. The neighbor backed the van around, but in their hurry, bumped the motorcycle, which tipped over and smashed into the Cuda, scratching the paint. They asked our friend to let them pay cash instead of billing their insurance, so they did. The repair would have been $1800, and the neighbors were shocked. They didn't even have car insurance, and thought it might be like $200 to repair the scratches. They refused to pay, so our friend took them to small claims court.

One of the court TV shows picked up the case and flew them to New York to tape the story. Our friends won the case, and the show paid them the money owed. The neighbor got off scott free, but everyone couldn't believe they were willing to stiff their next door neighbor. Usually, the story would end by maybe something bad happening to them for stiffing, "karma" getting them back, but no.

They win the lottery. They win $800,000. Wow. They can buy a real nice house and get out of the poor section of the city they live in. Everyone expects them to buy land, and move to a real nice suburb, or move to another state, something big. Definitely, everyone thinks a move is in the future. They can do basically anything they have ever dreamed of with that much money. What was in their dreams? How far would they go?

They moved one half mile down the road, just over the city line. The houses are double what their house was worth, maybe $40,000. One half mile. It was as far as they could dream.

I think of that story amazed and dismayed at the same time. How could they want so little? When did they stop expecting more? Are we grown-up when we stop dreaming, or are we just self-limiting?

How do we encourage our children to dream while we keep dreaming ourselves?

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