Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Dream #GBE2

Our hero, Best Dad Evar leans against the doorway into the living room of his in-laws’ home peering across the room. It is evening and the rest of the family is clearing dishes and food from the table. Best Dad’s oldest daughter sits at a dusty but well kept grand piano carefully picking out notes on the white keys and singing a tune quietly, while he watches her quietly. Though he’s in plain sight, his posture indicates that he’s melting into the shadows, so as not to disturb the youngster. His eyes shine with approval despite the occasional, obvious sharp notes.
The narrator quietly interrupts his enjoyment of the moment. “Best Dad Evar, do you have a dream?”
“Do I dream? Of course I dream” Best Dad says with a smirk.
“No, I don’t mean the dreams you have at night. I mean a dream. Dream with a capital ’D’.”
“Oh, that kind of dream. Like my daughter’s dream to be a famous pianist and singer?” He looks at the child, still playing quite nicely and singing not quite in tune. “Yeah, I had a dream like that once.”
“Tell me about it.”
“I had a dream to be the next Jack Sikma.”
“Jack Sikma? Who’s that?”
“Well, in the late 1970’s and through the 1980’s, Jack Sikma was one of the top forwards in the National Basketball Association. He was six foot ten, had a very consistent shot and played well on the boards getting rebounds. When I was younger, I watched all the big sports, and I thought if there was any player that I could be like, it would be him.”

“So, Sikma was your favorite player?”
“No, no. My favorite player was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. So of course, I practiced my sky hook, too. But Jack Sikma was a white guy like me. He had a shot I could emulate and a rebounding and defensive style I could work towards. He wasn’t my idol, but he was my model.”
“There’s just one problem, Best Dad Evar.”
“I’m getting there. When I was twelve and thirteen years old, that dream seemed realistic. I had two uncles who were pretty tall. Nowhere near six foot ten, but still, there’s always that hope in the back of your mind that you’ll be the exception. Especially when you’re in the middle of puberty and everything’s changing.”
“And when you reached fourteen?” the narrator asks knowingly.
“Yeah, at fourteen, my teammates were starting to tower over me and I stopped growing at just short of five foot ten. Nothing close to Jack Sikma‘s height and size were in my genes.”
“And by sixteen?” the narrator prompts him further.
“At sixteen I found myself competing with the little, quick guys who were great ball-handlers and whose feet moved at lightning speed defensively. That just wasn’t my game at all. When I finally got a little playing time that year, I hurt my knee and spent the rest of the season in a flexible cast. The next year I decided to ‘get real’ and focus on my classes so I could get into a good college and I never played organized sports after that.”

Suddenly, there is a commotion at the piano. Best Dad’s younger daughter has asserted herself onto the piano bench and without asking has claimed her turn at the keys. She gleefully pounds the keys in a cacophony of sound that even a parent couldn’t love. Actually, a parent is very likely to become immediately annoyed, particularly due to the complete lack of manners displayed in the interruption. The older child reacts with a screechy, ear-splitting yell of “Get off!!” Best Dad rolls his eyes and strides over to avert a sibling meltdown. He sighs and tells the younger child she can only have a turn if she asks nicely. When she does so, he shrugs and asks the older child if she will allow the youngster to take a turn.
“I’ll give you a turn playing games on my phone,” he adds as incentive. The older child’s shoulders slump in defeat, but she agrees and slides off the bench.

Best Dad slinks back to the doorway and leans heavily against it again. He watches sadly as his older daughter accepts the electronic bribe and plops down on the sofa, now enthralled with mindless video games. The narrator continues, the random clanging of notes preventing the children from hearing him, “Haven’t you developed another dream since your passion to be the next Jack Sikma died?”
“A dream like that one? An all-consuming passion that leads to you dedicating your life to one single pursuit to the exclusion of all others?”
“Yes?” the narrator asks in a hopeful tone, knowing full well that the answer is a resounding “No!”
“Nope, since then I’ve had something else. I don’t know what to call them. Perhaps you could call them ‘pursuits’ or ‘interests’ or even ‘hobbies’. ‘Careers’ I’ve had, too, several of them. None of these interests or careers has ever felt as firmly rooted in my heart as that first one. I wanted to be a baseball statistician, an economist, a mortgage broker, and maybe a few other things. I’ve dedicated a few years to each of them, but they’ve risen to the level of a ‘dream’.”
“This is a running theme with you, Best Dad: a lack of loyalty to your dreams, ideas, pursuits, et cetera.”
“No argument here.” Best Dad says sadly, but matter-of-factly.

“Except one thing.”
“Your family history research.”
“Yeah.” Best Dad pauses for a long moment, the gears of his mind turning over this item. “I have been pretty loyal to that pursuit, haven’t I?”
“So much so that you might refer to it as a ‘calling’?” The narrator says, half question, half statement.
“I’ve actually been doing research on my family tree and family history for my entire adult life. My grandmother got me started on that path when I was a teenager when she showed me her family tree that goes back to the Mayflower.”
“Wow!” The narrator is impressed.
Best Dad continues, “But… since there’s no money in that pursuit, it will always be just a hobby. And beyond that, there’s no single thing I can call my ‘Dream’ in family history.”
“You know that’s not true.” The narrator rebukes him.
“No, you’re right." Best Dad pauses for a satisfied smile. "I did have a dream in family history research.”
“And it already came true.”

“Mm hmm.” The narrator replies knowingly.
“Yeah, I had what I felt to be a mystery in my family history that I wanted to solve, a hole in my family tree that I felt should be filled. And through my own initiative and research, I discovered that missing link in my family tree. I opened up a whole section of our family history, discovered well-known and respected ancestors, even found the gravesites of several generations of my family.”
“So, not only did you have a dream after Jack Sikma, it’s already come true.”
“Yeah." He says, continuing to smile. "But that’s one of the drawbacks of dreams.”
“What’s that Best Dad?” the narrator asks with surprise.
“The dream-come-true moment is only one moment and then that moment passes."
"Ah," the narrator understands.
"Once that moment is in the past, it's a memory, not a dream any more and, inevitably you have to find a new dream.”
“And that’s not so easy, is it?”
“No, it isn’t. But you know what?”
“It’s pretty fun to watch these little ones developing their first dreams.”
“First dreams are like first loves aren’t they?” The narrator wistfully and rhetorically asks. “Pie-in-the-sky and head-over-heels.”
“Except for one thing. Unlike first loves, we parents can share those first dreams along with our children. Those dreams sink deeply into us, and they become our dreams, too.”


Kiwi Riverman's Blogesphere said...

Many of us have had what turned out were unrealistic dreams or goals.

But often the journey before realism was great, until we woke up.

Fantastic post. Being a great Dad to your kids is better than any dream.

Anonymous said...

First dreams really are like first loves. Wonderful post--I love the heart that shines so well in this one.

Langley Cornwell said...

Such a caring post. This is beautiful.

Christina Majaski said...

I wanted to be a basketball player too. No lie.

Jenn said...

I love Best Dad Evar--such wisdom here.

I am a genealogy nut "in phases" I go through a phase to get a line back a bit further...then get frustrated and walk away. Only to come back several months later with a renewed enthusiasm. Not all genealogical lines are easy to trace, that's for sure. But on that same note--each time I get back another generation--and get it all documented--I then want to go back further. My never ending puzzle. But BDE is right--not a dream--only a hobby!!

I loved the last part--excellent!

Jo said...

Pie in the sky and head over heels! I think I felt that once!
I love BDE and I look forward to his adventures in life every week.
You make me smile.

Eccentricity said...

I'm not very loyal to any one particular dream myself. Different things get my interest at different times and I flow with it, because I'm a free spirit. :-)

Kathy said...

I have to admit I have given up on my dreams one by one. Life kind of steps in and takes over. Great post!


Anonymous said...

Best dad Evar is wise indeed to recognize that his youngest is a trouble maker. Your first born must be wise and loving indeed.
What, you want truth?
Oh, okay, great post!

justonevoice said...

Maybe part of the path of finding new dreams is conceiving, pursuing, and eventually abandoning the earlier ones. When you were dreaming of Jack you most likely couldn't envision the power of fatherhood. Great post!