When I was 15 years old, I had three dreams for the future: 1. to be a Catholic priest; 2. to be an actor; and 3. to be a Major League baseball player. Obviously, none of these dreams came to be. So was I wasting my time?
Dreams can be painful. Some go unfulfilled because of talent or opportunity. More painful, though, are the efforts we take to achieve our dreams, only do have that step stumble. Such a dream is portrayed by the late Harry Chapin in his song “Mr Tanner”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=upZB5VlbC6o
Have you had experiences like Mr. Tanner’s? When you tried to live out a dream only to be disappointed, even defeated? Or were you content to try, as was Rudy Ruettiger. Rudy’s dream was to play football at Notre Dame. In the end, he played briefly in one game and made a tackle. For Rudy, this was enough.
Pursuing a dream requires discipline and patience. For these reasons, we often give up. Sadly, though, we often never get started because of fear. Fear of failure. Fear of looking foolish. Just plain fear.
For this reason, I encourage you to embrace your dreams, no matter how big they are and how old you are. The spirit of dreaming and pursuing those dreams can enrich your life. Yes. you might be disappointed as was Mr. Tanner. But you won’t be living with the “what if”.
Even more important, your dream may not be realized but it can be transformed into something enriching. Thus, my desire to be a priest transformed into a deep abiding love of the spiritual journey. I actually have done some acting and have known the deep joy of portraying characters from Tom Wingfield to Sherlock Holmes to Aslan. As far as baseball goes, I embraced baseball as something to be enthused about at a time my recovery desperately needed enthusiasm. It worked. I stayed sober and became a Redsox fan!
Reflections: Have you pursued any dreams? Deferred any? To what effect?
Further viewing: Enjoy Rudy’s moment! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mZ7ZpLgkVxA
What has always been important for me in terms of my dreams is not whether or not they are fulfilled the way I would like them to be, but what I learn in the PROCESS of having and nurturing them. The outcome may be very different from what I had in mind, and of course, let’s not forget the old adage that “If you want to make God laugh, tell her your plans.” David Whyte says that the moment you begin asking a question (or I would say even beginning to nurture a dream) you put yourself on a pilgrimage. It has been crucial for me over the years to have and attend to my dreams, but at the same time, to be able to surrender them to a better design courtesy of the divine.
I cannot comment on this. Those who know me are aware that I have an opinion on everything and I share my opinions too freely. When I am silent it is usually because the issue is too painful to discuss. I do have thought on Patterson and the priesthood. The other day when I was driving to work I passed a Catholic middle school for boys which is located across the street from the Catholic girls’ school I attended 40 years ago. I passed by what appeared to be a line of hooded monks entering the cathedral. Just then I noticed one of the “monks” hopping up the stairs to the church. A hopping monk made my 52 year old heart hop too! I realized that they were not yet clergymen but rather teens being molded by a 2,000 year old tradition and they will end up carrying that tradition through their lives as Patterson has.
Maintaining sobriety AND being a Red Sox fan. That really hit home 🙂
Correction: The Franciscan tradition is around a thousand years old, not two thousand as I wrote. Anyway, I am glad it continues and I am glad that Dr. Patterson became a secular priest.