Barry Manilow wrote some amazing songs. One of his best was about love but for me it is about life. The song, I’m Ready to Take a Chance Again, talks about someone who lost a love. For a long time, that person walked around in a fog. Finally, he decided to take a chance again.
Two Ways Dreams Die
To me, that song is such an amazing picture of what life is like without a dream. We have all had dreams die. Sometimes it is because things didn’t work out. We wanted something. We gave it our all but things just didn’t turn out as we hoped they would. The dream died and we are left with disappointment.
At other times, we reach our dreams. We achieve what we want and what we achieve is everything we hoped it would be. It is a glorious victory. But we can’t live in the glory of the one-time victory forever. Eventually life goes on. We aren’t left with disappointment. If we aren’t careful though, we are left with emptiness.
In either case, we have to move on. Whether we are looking back at victory or defeat, if we just sit there here is what will happen. We will find ourselves living life in a fog. It is the life Barry Manilow sang about.
“You remind me, I live in a shell. Safe from the past and doing OK but not very well. No jolts, no surprises, no crises arises. My life goes along as it should. It’s all very nice but not very good.”
Note to Self
Often when I write a blog post, I have someone in mind. This one is certainly written that way. There is a specific person I have in mind as I write this. He is the guy I saw in the mirror this morning. Let me tell you something about him.
My life has been an amazing journey. I am a dreamer. I love to pursue my dreams. Whether I am riding the tide of success or getting buried underneath a wave of failure it doesn’t matter. When I trying something that challenges me, I feel alive. When I am not, I feel like my life is in a fog.
The Year that Changed Everything
In December of 2012, I published my second book. It was great. We had worked so hard to get it out and I am very satisfied with the product and how well it has sold. The dreamer realized another dream. Little did I know what the next ten months had in store for me.
That December when the book was released, all four of my children were living at home with us. In January of 2013, two of them moved over 200 miles away to Atlanta to pursue careers. I was so proud of them and where they were as wonderful young adults venturing out on their own. In August of 2013, my youngest daughter went even further than that away to one of the top universities in the south to finish her education. She was in the #2 college in the nation in her major. I couldn’t have asked for more from her. Then in September, my son married a woman that Lisa and I have loved for many years. We have known her since she was a little girl and we can’t imagine any woman who would be better for our son.
All we could hope for as parents was unfolding before our very eyes. For the past twenty-five years we had poured our lives into these four children with no guarantee of how things would turn out. Now it was all coming together and it was exactly what we had hoped it would be.
Life in a Fog
There we were. It was instant empty nest. What now? I had just been on an amazing journey and now that journey was over. My kids are still a big part of my life but it is not the same. That’s when I made what might have been one of the biggest mistakes in my life. It wasn’t something I did. It was something I didn’t do. I didn’t start dreaming again. My “next up” dream never arrived. I had finished a book, wished my kids well and settled in.
Has my life been bad? No. I am living with the woman I absolutely love. I am still a college professor and I like doing that. I like my house. I like my car. I like my office. I like to exercise. I go to a great church. Everything is very nice. Yet something big is missing and it wasn’t until recently that I realized what it was. I have lived these last four years in a fog.
My Wonderful Disappointment
About two months ago, I got a call from a good friend of mine. He asked me if I wanted to try something. His timing was perfect. I can’t imagine any time in the last twenty years that he could have asked me what he did that I would have said yes. But because of what happened to be going on at the time, I decided I would go for it.
Last night, I saw things fall apart. What we had hoped for isn’t going to happen. Most of my focus for the last two months has been on that dream and now the dream is gone. Am I disappointed? A little but not too much. I have had much bigger dreams fall apart in my life and I have developed the ability to handle these disappointments. Big dreamers learn to deal with disappointments. Disappointments just go with the territory.
Here is what the last two months have shown me though. They showed that I had been living my life in a fog. It wasn’t a bad fog. I was living in a nice home in the fog. But it was still a fog. Then, the fog lifted for two months. For two months, the dreamer was back. And life was great.
Not long ago, while I was in the middle of pursuing my dream, my daughter called. She got me talking about my dream and we stayed on the phone for over three hours. It was as if she didn’t want to let me go. After that, I talked about that conversation with Lisa who was also on the phone. I think that my daughter felt that she finally got her father back. The dad that she was talking to that evening was the father she had grown up with. It wasn’t the one she had seen for the past four years. And I don’t think she wanted to let that moment go.
The Dreamer Is Back
This morning at the breakfast table, I quoted that Barry Manilow song to my wife. I told her I would not go on living my life in a fog. I’ve learned again over the past two months that life isn’t about the moments you spend on the mountain tops. It is about the climb. Mountain tops are few and you don’t always reach them. But mountains are plentiful. And the toughest climb is better than living in the most comfortable valley in a fog.
I have a few ideas about what will be the next mountain I will climb. I am not sure. But I can tell you this for certain. Having discovered again how wonderful life is with a dream, I never want to go back to “doing OK but not very well.”
Back to the Arena
So as I close this blog post, let me share with you one of my all-time favorite quotes. I have quoted it in this blog before and I am sure I will quote it again. It is that wonderful quote by one of the greatest dreamers of all time, Theodore Roosevelt. I am sure you have heard it before but it bears repeating again over and over.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Goodbye fog. Look out arena, here I come.
Category: About Life, Success Friday, February 3, 2017