I sit here at the dining room table, munching on a crisp green salad, while my boys sing along with “The Candyman” song and watch Charlie Bucket eyeing the multitude of sweets the candy man offers the other children. A single quote from the movie flutters off the page of my notebook: “We are the music-makers and we are the dreamers of dreams.” I am not a candy man. I don’t sprinkle things with sugar and make the world taste good. I am, however, a dreamer of dreams. My dreams don’t ever materialize exactly as I imagine, but like Jess from Sunday’s episode of Chesapeake Shores, I’m not going to give up on them.
While it is true that you cannot “just close your eyes and wish things were different,” and you can’t always make things happen, that doesn’t mean your dreams won’t take shape. To pursue them, it takes many leaps of faith and battling tough decisions, but the uphill battle may just result in an abundance of blessings. Sometimes, those dreams morph into something you never saw coming.
Through the first three seasons of Chesapeake Shores, Trace followed his childhood dream of becoming a country music legend, which required leaving loved ones behind. Connor pursued his dream of becoming a lawyer, even if it meant working for his uncle. Abby moved home to give her daughters the kind of childhood she had. Bree worked through 10 drafts of her book before it became a best-selling novel. Jess opened her very own bed-and-breakfast only after fixing the plumbing and hiring an unpaid chef.
I became a teacher. Wait. That wasn’t my dream.
It’s true. I never wanted to teach. As an English major, I remember being asked questions like “Why are you doing that? All you can do is teach.” I told everyone I knew that I would never teach. I had big dreams. I was going to work for a large publisher, write a best-selling book, and start my own literary magazine. However, as author Bill Giovanetti explained in a conference last winter, the outcomes of our dreams are really “indispensable links in a chain of providences.” Providences took me on a path I never saw coming. They turned me into a middle school English teacher…for the past 15 years. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
The most poignant moment of Sunday’s episode, for me, involved Kevin’s former football coach. Standing weary at his front door, Kevin urged Coach Schmidt to come out on the porch. There, in a crowd around him, were his dreams – in tangible form. Each teenager-turned-adult was an image of the time, perseverance, and grit Coach gave so that his students and players could achieve their own dreams. For anyone who works with kids, the kids become the dream.
Now in my 16th year of teaching middle school, I feel the old dreams storming their way to the forefront of my mind. Now is the time, they whisper. Now. And now is not then. These past 15 years were not intended for me. Instead, they poured into my students so they could pursue their own dreams. Just in the past week, one former student informed me that he graduated from Pepperdine Law School in the spring and is awaiting his results from the Bar exam. Another student found me on social media and shared that she is married and has a little daughter. Married! That many years have passed and these two thought it important to find me, their middle-school English teacher. A few days later, while sharing dinner with friends, we ran into a group of students heading home from a community service project for Key Club. Four of them shouted my name and hugged me, reminding me of stories and projects we shared in class. Now, they are seniors and applying to college. In that moment, what I realized is that I had just hugged four of my dreams. In the past week, I’ve seen an abundance of dreams realized.
No, teaching wasn’t my dream, but helping others find theirs became mine. That is really what pursuing a dream is about: the potential we have to create something “stupidly beautiful” that blesses someone else. Trace tried the first dream and discovered that creating something beautiful on his own didn’t mean much because Abby wasn’t by his side. Jess’ bed and breakfast meant the world to her, partly because it was her first ‘success,’ but more so because her dream touched David’s life, too.
Towards the end of the episode, feeling a bit lost and useless, Megan asks Mick, “What do I do now?” He replies, “Whatever you want.” It’s true. We have the freedom to pursue whatever we want, and we have the power to use our dreams to influence and impact others. Maybe it is a single act, such as sacrificing your job so that others don’t get hurt. Perhaps it is a long-term goal that requires hard work and dedication over many years. When you do take that leap of faith and pursue your dream, remember that the “chain of providences” that appears as a series of bumps, twists, and redirections might actually be creating a multitude of “stupidly beautiful” dreams you never saw coming. Those new dreams may not be the same as the old ones. They could be even better.