I have been thinking a lot about you and your future, which should come as no real surprise to you or anyone who knows me, for that matter. Thinking about you and your future is the one thing that I have irrefutably done without hesitation or indifference since the moment that you were conceived.
Most recently, I have been thinking about how quickly time has elapsed. It seems like just the other day that you were small enough that I could lift you with just the palm of my hand – elevating you to heights that you thought were literally the highest in the world. Now you are much too large to hold in the palm of my hand and I find myself wondering how I can figuratively lift you up to unknown heights as I did when you were smaller.
This reflection has left me feeling anxious and concerned that I have not adequately prepared you for the future or as I define it that dreadful day when I can no longer stand literally by your side 24/7. I need you to know and understand, at this very moment in time, with complete clarity, that if I could make one request of you, it comes with my most sincere hope and prayer that when the time comes that you must do as all real men do – move out and establish your own existence – that you do so having followed your dreams.
As I get older or perhaps the better phrase is to say as I mature, I realize just how important it is to have a dream that wakes you each day, motivates and inspires you during the day, and that the effort and energy expended to accomplish that dream completely exhausts you each night so that you have a great night’s sleep only to wake eagerly in the morning to do it all over again. This describes what being your father has been and meant to me.
Each and every day of your life, I have been excited to see you. I have been motivated and inspired by the thoughts of you, who you are and what you might become. I have gone to bed each night praying that your life is everything you could ever imagine, and that I could play some small part in the realization of your dreams even if my only role was simply not to mess things up for you.
My prayer for you always begins wishing that you triumph over that which I have yet to master myself, and that which your grandparents before you could not even begin to imagine mastering – dreaming and fighting to bring your dreams to realization. I do not believe your grandparents dreamt much of anything much less of greatness for themselves. While I have dreamt of greatness, I must be honest in telling you that I have at times lacked all the internal and external elements to make it happen – namely a direction, perseverance and support. In hindsight it now feels like much of my life, my own potential for greatness was squandered because I did not know how to follow and/or I simply failed to follow my own dreams.
I am telling you this now because I think you cannot only understand, but you should be able to appreciate fully the significance of my words. To be brief (which is not one of my greatest qualities), I don’t want you to end up like me. I could quote all the well-known clichés that would hopefully inspire, motivate and drive home this point…“Don’t put off tomorrow what you can do today” (Franklin n.d.) And “Tomorrow is not promised” (Matt. 6:34 King James Version).
Instead, I think the best thing that I can tell you is not to live your life with any regrets or misgivings. You need to know and understand that I am telling you this now because NOW is the time. In truth, NOW is all there ever has been, all there ever is and all there ever will be.
Life is made up of nothing more than billions of NOWS which are fueled and driven by our own individual dreams. If you miss acting NOW, you just might miss out on your dream. If you put off for later what you can and should do NOW, you just might put into motion actions that will change the course of your life and everything you have dreamt of.
I was watching the movie Pursuit of Happyness (The Pursuit of Happyness 2006) the other afternoon, and I watched one scene over and over again. It is the scene where Chris Gardner (played by Will Smith) has a conversation with his son about dreams. The conversation went like this:
Chris Gardner: Hey. Don’t ever let somebody tell you… You can’t do something. Not even me. All right?
Christopher: All right.
Chris Gardner: You got a dream… You gotta protect it. People can’t do somethin’ themselves, they wanna tell you can’t do it. If you want somethin’, go get it. Period.
What makes this scene so fascinating and significant is that Chris outlines for his son, Christopher, precisely what it takes to realize a dream. He tells him in step by step fashion exactly what to do. He delineates in this scene the instructions that every father should provide to his son in order that they may succeed in life.
First, implicit in his instructions is that his son MUST HAVE A DREAM and that he MUST ACT ON IT NOW. Christopher has a dream which he tells his father of just prior to the aforementioned dialogue. Christopher tells his dad while shooting hoops (preparing for his future while being in the now) that he is “going pro” (NBA). Unfortunately, Chris begins to discourage his son by focusing on his own lifetime of PAST personal failures until he catches himself and realizes that his failures do not have to be his son’s failures. In fact, his PAST failures do not have to be a deterrent from the success of the NOW. I believe at that moment, Chris realizes that his PAST failures might instead provide a roadmap for not only his son’s NOW, but both of their futures.
Second, the instructions infer that after you have discovered your dream, your passion and/or your purpose in life – you must resist any temptation to listen to anyone who would try to tell you that you cannot do something. Chris’ statements confer that merely listening to negative, non-supportive comments even from those who you love and who love you are never allowable. Even as powerful as Chris’ statement is it misses one very important and absolutely crucial consideration. What do you do when that “somebody who is trying to tell you that you can’t do something” is you? In other words, how do you keep from letting your own negative thoughts impede you from achieving your dreams?
Negative thoughts that impact our ability to reach our dreams are known as Intrusive Thoughts. Intrusive thoughts much like the way Chris initially spoke to Christopher tell us in a multitude of ways why we can’t and shouldn’t try to do something. Intrusive thoughts leave us paralyzed to do those things that are required to make our dreams a reality such as prepare, practice, study, commit, and persevere. Intrusive thoughts cause us to obsess about our own shortcomings and make us view every bump in the road as an impenetrable fortress instead of what they really are – just an expected obstacle on the road to success. Intrusive thoughts make us focus not on improving our own status, abilities, or circumstances NOW and progressing towards the realization of our own dream NOW, but rather intrusive thoughts cause us to obsess over yesterday and tomorrow and the challenges of those whom we openly and/or secretly envy.
In order to achieve your dreams, you must go beyond acknowledging that there are those on the outside who do not believe in you, and want nothing more than to see you fail. More importantly, you must acknowledge that there is someone on the inside – your own actions, thoughts and behaviors – that might be keenly focused on seeing you fail. When you hear and/or see that person who would tell you that you cannot do something headed in your direction or looking at you in the mirror, you MUST NEVER TALK TO THEM.
Third, we learn that WE MUST PROTECT OUR DREAMS. This means that you must cover or shield your dreams from exposure, injury, damage, or destruction. You must nurture your dreams in the NOW. You should not associate yourself with anything or anyone who has the power to damage or destroy your dreams. Treat your dreams as if you’re the parent of a newborn baby.
Your dream, just like the newborn baby, is powerless to survive without the parents’ vigilant and unwavering attention and support. You are the unquestionable parent to your dreams. There is no DNA test required. Your thoughts were impregnated by your dreams. You birthed your dreams by your actions. Remember, it is up to you to nurture and care for your dreams so that they grow to their fullest potential. There are no social service agencies that step in to care for your dreams if and when you don’t. If and when you stop caring for your dreams, they simply die.
Finally, we receive the last instruction which is IF WE WANT SOMETHING WE MUST GO GET IT PERIOD. Once you have dreamt the dream, you must NOW go get it. The dialogue does not say that you should have gotten it yesterday. Nor does the dialogue say that you should get it tomorrow. The dialogue says you must got get it, period, which clearly means in the RIGHT NOW.
Now, my dear son, is the time. How much do you want your dreams? I think the better expression would be to say IF WE NEED SOMETHING WE MUST GO GET IT PERIOD. How much do you need the realization of your dreams? How much do you need to take action NOW to make your dreams a reality?
For what it is worth, I believe the closer the dream is to a NEED rather than a WANT, the more likely you are to follow all the steps necessary to make it a reality. When your dream is like the thirst of a man stranded in the desert without water for three days, you will understand NEED and no one will ever have to tell you that you must go get it (your dream). If however, your dream is as it is for most people, simply the pursuit of dessert after an otherwise filling meal, you will never understand what it means to want or need something (your dream) so badly that you must go get it.
Now is the time, on this day, in this year, at this precise moment for you to determine if the fulfillment of your dream is akin to being in the desert dying of thirst, or are you just trying to decide between dessert and no dessert? The question is an important one and one that may determine the course of your life.
You have the instructions, the materials and the tools. At some point you will have to answer your own life’s question: will my life be that of a man on his personal quest in the desert willing to die of thirst to realize his dreams, or will I be the man who goes through life trying to choose between dessert and no dessert?
Good luck and God Bless,
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