When I was twenty-two it was my dream to homestead. I looked into free land and the where and how’s of that. I looked into equipment and all the falderal that would be necessary. As a former farm kid, sporadically raised on a side hill farm in Appalachia, I had some idea of what it would take to make a successful operation. Pretty much everything we did not have.
Anyway, this was my dream, and I would have done it too, but life got in the way.
Life being the outcome of all the decisions I had made to that time; the obligations I had made to people and organizations that I could not escape from, and, oh yes, a healthy dose of cowardice. It is kind of hard to admit, being a tough old Infantry Soldier, that I am afraid of anything, but let me assure of this: attempting to fulfill your dreams can be the scariest thing in the world. It begs the question; what does it mean about me if I fail?
About ten years later, I had another one of those epiphany moments when I realized I still had the ability to love and the ability to dream dreams about riding up the Outlaw Trail, and then walking down the Appalachian Trail; of starting a band and of getting the girl. It was all going to be great.
Anyway, that was my dream and I would have done it too, but life got in the way.
Life being, again, the outcome of all the decisions I had made to date; and real obligations I would have to meet, if I wanted to continue looking at myself in the mirror when I shaved; and, oh yes, a really healthy dose of cowardice. Fear of failure, agreement with that voice in my head that said I could not do it, and fear of harming innocence to which I owed so much.
So I stayed with the life I had chosen. The life of the defender, the protector, and the one who occupied that line between good and evil, a life in which you spent too much time looking into the eye of evil. “When you look into the abyss, be sure the abyss isn’t looking into you; and when you set out to fight monsters, be sure you do not become a monster.” Nietzsche said something to that effect. I may be the only living Christian who quotes both Nietzsche and Twain.
At the age of forty-eight I was fairly successful at my chosen profession, having completed one career already and working on a second. Then I followed another family tradition and became a drunk. I will not bore you with the details, but I pretty much blew off a decade trying to drink Plank Road Brewery and George Dickle Distillery dry. I failed.
That ended over six years ago. Here I am, forty-two years after the original dream, living that dream. No, I did not do it right, nor do I have all the equipment, and heaven forbid that I actually have a long drawn out plan. With the help of “the girl”, yes that would be the girl from over thirty years ago. It took some time, but I finally won that one, we are building a home on five acres and a dream.
It would have been easier had I done it when I was twenty-two. The joints worked better and the body was more resilient, if nothing else. I have lost a lot but I have gained some important things too. One good thing I have lost is the fear of failure. I have already seen what is the worst that could happen; everything from there on out is easy. One good thing I have won is the girl. That was worth the whole tangled mess.
I love you Connie Hall.
On re-reading this I realized I had not gotten to “the point” I think the story should have made it evident but in case it did not here it is. There are only two real things worth following in this life the first is the will of God Almighty and the second is your dream. If you aren’t doing that now is the time to start.