One of the first books I read from as a child was a little light blue paperback book about Abraham Lincoln. I don’t know how many times I read it, but I remember always being hypnotized most especially by the tales of his youth, when he scratched out lessons on the wall as he rested from a hard day of manual labor. I read that book, but I had no idea that it was the beginning of a dream.
When I was 16, I called a local driver’s education place to ask if they would be able to teach me how to drive. Did they have a special car that I could learn in? They responded, “Uh, we have some phone books. I guess you could sit on those.” Being 16, I took this as a thoughtless, insensitive response. The obstacles in the way of learning how to drive seemed immense. How could I learn how to drive when no car could accommodate me? How could I buy a car and get it fixed up when I didn’t even know how to drive? All of this unwound itself 9 years later when I found a person named Wally whose specialty was teaching people like me how to drive. His car could accommodate anyone. I trained all Summer to pass my driver’s test, and around the time of my 26th birthday, I got my real driver’s license. But I didn’t know that that was just one piece of a dream.
About five years ago, I discovered that Springfield, Illinois had actually done a magnificent job of preserving their part of Abraham Lincoln’s history. His house was still there. The spot at which he departed Springfield was still there. But Springfield was far away. Life kept getting in the way. It was a dream, but it seemed like one that was easy to put on the back burner. There were more important things to do. What money could I make visiting Lincoln’s home? What significance would it bring to the world as a whole? Such are the thoughts of twenty-somethings, no?
A couple of weeks ago, I put in for a couple of days off from work as I do every year at this time. I figured I would work on my garden, catch up on some reading, and finally see The Conspirator. But my mom said, “Why don’t we go to Springfield this weekend?”
Suddenly, so many things made sense as parts of this dream I had been cooking for so many years. All of that studying of Lincoln I had done over the years. All of that hard work figuring out how to drive. Suddenly, preparation had met opportunity. I was able to do a fair amount of the driving. I knew what sites I wanted to see. And as we drove towards Springfield, I realized that dreams don’t have to be gigantic, massive, obviously significant things. A dream can be something as simple as standing where your great hero once stood before he was President of the United States, before he was the great emancipator. It’s standing where he stood when he was a lawyer, a husband, and a dad. Where he mourned the death of his son, Eddie, and where he played with his sons, Willie and Tad.
What dreams do you have? It doesn’t matter if they don’t make sense to anyone else. My dream may not make sense to you. “So it’s a house,” you might well say. But for me, even as I think about this, my life has been divided into two sections – the time before my dream came true, and the time after. There is no price or value you can put on such a thing, even if you are the only one who can so enjoy it.
Are you building your dreams without realizing it? You may just be. Does everything you do have the potential to become a building block to great joy? It just may. This sensation makes every day more meaningful, every deed more significant, not in the way society teaches us, but on an individual level, and in a way that is more profound than anything else one can experience.
Build your dreams, and let the road of your life take you to grand places. Find your bliss. Even if it’s just an old 19th century house that belonged to a great man and his family.