When I was a kid I got caught lying to my parents and my father told me the story of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.”
For years after that, I’d have a recurring nightmare that I’d be down playing on my swing set and a wolf would come running out of the woods after me. I was too paralyzed to run and would wake up just as it lunged for my throat.
Clearly this was a traumatic experience (as I remember it vividly, 40 years later).
Horrible as it was, though, it did teach me the importance of honesty.
If you “cry wolf” people won’t believe you and will turn their backs on you in your time of need.
This was, of course, my father’s intent when he scared the hell out of me.
What my father didn’t predict, though, is what also happened as a result of these dreams.
I learned to adapt.
Eventually, when the dream would return I would realize that it was a dream and I learned how to alter it.
When the wolf would come, I would tear open my shirt (exposing the “S” on my chest) and – as Superman – I would punch the wolf in the face, grab it by the back legs, and throw it over the mountain behind the woods. Like 100 miles, or something.
The nightmares ended and I’ve always had the ability to alter my dreams, ever since.
I always dreamed of a great life when I was a little guy. No, I didn’t understand money or wealth (no kid really does) but I DID understand happiness. When I blew out my birthday candles I always wished that I could be Superman. I also wanted to be a pro baseball player. Again, not for the fame and fortune, but because I could spend my life doing something I loved; playing.
By age 18, I came to the realization that I’d never play professional baseball (I’m still holding out for Superman) and I eventually did what everybody has to do . . . wake up and join the “real world.” Lots of meaningless jobs led me to a sportswriter job which actually fit me.
I wasn’t making very much money there, though, and so my “new dreams” became about fame and financial success. But that’s all they were; dreams. Dreams with no action. A recurring daydream that I didn’t know was a dream. And suddenly ten years went down the river.
Thank goodness I was only 33 when, through a combination of ambition and good fortune, I woke up and learned that people also have the ability to alter their “real-life” dreams. The good ones! And over the past 17 years I’ve been living that dream of fame and fortune and, most importantly; playing!
I meet so many people that are still stuck in their nightmares. They don’t understand that all it takes is to realize the nightmare and alter it. Then there are many people who aren’t in nightmares at all, but they spend so much of their time doing things they don’t enjoy doing. They’ve stopped dreaming altogether. They’re just “existing” their way through life and watching the years evaporating behind them. I see it in peoples’ eyes and it makes me sad.
I wish I could encourage more people to “dust off their dreams.”
As my girls get ready for the last day of school (and summer vacation) I think back on that exciting feeling. Remember? No more school! For the next few months, you can do pretty much anything you want! Stay up late, sleep in, play with your friends, have fun every day!