When I was a young girl of 10, and I found everyone else in the house busy with their own pursuits, I would wiggle into my bathing suit and pull on a pair of lacy ankle socks. Pushing the living room furniture flush with the walls, I imagined I was on the stage of the Sacramento Convention Center. I’d grab my cassette of the Nutcracker soundtrack, pop it into the player, and twirl around my living room. Mind you, I had never had a dance lesson and I tend to trip over my own feet, but in my dreams I was a graceful, dainty, and incredibly talented ballerina.
Now, I have two sons. The oldest dreams of being a Lego engineer or a scientist. The youngest is even more ambitious; he has already lined up five different professions: a doctor, a ninja, a truck driver, a construction worker, and a bear hunter. Even he can’t explain that last one, but he is adamant that he will hunt bears sometime in his life. All that matters is that this is something he wants to do – something he finds interesting. (Then again, just about every profession is interesting to a five-year-old.)
In preparation for their many goals, we practice all sorts of skills. We jump together on the trampoline, racing, tumbling, and giggling. We perform science experiments with mentos and soda or by dropping eggs from the balcony of our house in the country. Then, when we are ready for a rest, we sort, design, and build new structures with the multi-colored Legos that have managed to infiltrate every room of our house. After that, we pull out my younger son’s stethoscope and first aid kit to take turns playing doctor and patient.
I may not be donning a pink gown or be attending a fancy tea party, but I’ve discovered something even more beautiful than a pretend princess party or the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. While my boys’ dreams and mine were not the same, we share the same inner desire: we want to help people. Somehow, we all have an innate desire to do good in this world, to love beyond understanding, and to bring joy to those around us. In so doing, we create joy for ourselves.
In Sunday’s episode of Chesapeake Shores, when Tom’s mother tells Kevin that Tom was “all about living,” we see Kevin’s real struggle with the death of his friend. Kevin does not know how to keep living. All of his dreams have been shattered and his plans derailed. He is facing a future that is entirely devoid of dreams. This realization is heart-breaking, but it is also the motivation Kevin needs to truly examine the most important things in his life and to identify his true desires. Later, as he talks with his family, he voices his discovery. He wants to be a paramedic so that he can help people.
Kevin’s brother Connor is in precisely the same predicament. Having left a prestigious law firm that didn’t fit his relaxed and fun-loving personality, Connor has been filling his time by volunteering and by helping his uncle. At one point, he acknowledges that he “even forgot about the money.” Being able to make a difference in people’s lives by being a voice for those who don’t have one brings him a satisfaction that money never will.
There is still one character who hasn’t settled into the need to stay true to his beliefs. Try as he might, Trace is being pulled in different directions. While he initially left the recording studio to follow his own creative pursuits with his band, he is finding that money does make the world go around for many, including his bandmates. What will he choose: a life with Abby and the ability to share his music with whomever he chooses or a profitable record deal that will thrust his band into the spotlight?
At this point, I would challenge Trace and anyone else in his position to choose to live, to choose the option that will fulfill that innate desire to encourage and shine a light into the darkness of this world. It is incredibly difficult to find balance in this life, to be able to follow our dreams and still put food on the table, but our children need to see that our dreams are significant and to learn that it is better to “find out who you are and who you want to be” than to seek money and notoriety. It is in the discovery of our true selves and the pursuit of our dreams that we unconsciously encourage others around us on their own paths.
Keep dreaming, keeping reaching for the stars and asking for the moon. Take the time every day to spend even a few minutes doing that one thing that brings you joy – then, discover how living your dream has inherently provided help, encouragement, and hope to another.