What do you want?
If you could follow your dream, any dream, what would you do?
As I ate lunch in the Sombrilla one recent fall afternoon, I was forced to think about that question. It was staring me in the face in vivid red marker on a presentation board that had to be at least eight feet tall and 16 feet wide. “If you could pursue your dream with no fear of failure, what would you do?”
A crowd was gathered around the board and occasionally a brave soul would step forward, pick up a marker and start jotting down an answer. I watched with curiosity and with just a little bit of age-weary amusement.
So what would I do?
It’s a loaded question, for sure. But one that was easier to answer when I was a kid.
Dallas Cowboys cheerleader.
Dallas Cowboys cheerleader and astronaut.
Back then I had no fear of failure, no little voice in my head pointing out what was impractical or unachievable. I couldn’t do a cartwheel, but I still believed I could somersault my way onto the most famous football field in the world. I was afraid of heights but dreamed of flying to the moon. I’m a shy introvert but I believed that someday I would perform for a packed audience at the Palais Garnier, the Paris Opera House.
And then I grew up.
That little voice in my head got louder and more persistent. I started thinking about what was the smartest path, the one that made sense. Words like “responsible,” “honorable” and “economical” started beating incessant rhythms in my head.
The dreams stopped coming.
So on that recent fall day, I walked up to the presentation board, a lot older, a little bit wiser and with just a sliver remaining of the dreamer in me.
And I saw their dreams written in blue, green, red and orange. Some were tiny, almost hidden. Others were scrawled across the board, pictures and formulas punctuating their messages:
"Make an amazing historical discovery that changes how we see history itself!"
"Create the next greatest equation and become the next Einstein (E=MC2)."
"Answer people’s prayers."
"I would save all the endangered animals in the world."
I could feel the dreamer in me stirring. Growing. Dreaming once again. What would I do if I could pursue my dreams without being tethered by fear? I found my answer. And if you ever see that big presentation board, you just might see it tucked away on a corner.
I may be older, but I think maybe I had it right before. And maybe someday I’ll see you in Paris. Or, rather, you’ll see me.