John Steinbeck (1902 – 1968)
Don’t let small minds convince you that your dreams are too big.
I’ve seen the above quote quite a bit lately, and to be honest, it’s not something I’m very good at. When I look at my life and the current circumstances, all those voices telling me to “get your head out of the clouds” come roaring back. It’s not a whisper or a hint; it is a shout and a fact. There is no doubt in these voices. They are steady and sure. It is me alone who begins to doubt my dreams and my vision.
A few months ago, I had a conversation with an acquaintance concerning my vision. As I’ve mentioned before, it is bold, to be sure, but it is my joy and the culmination of my truest self. This individual asked me the equivalent of this question: “If you aren’t happy and this isn’t what you want, then what do you want?” The answer is simple, the explanation not as much. I laid out my vision as generically as I could, hoping this person would see the light come into my eyes as so many others have when I speak of my great dream. However, instead of excitement, what I received was skepticism. “That doesn’t sound like reality; that sounds like nothing but a dream.” I had heard it before. Actually, I had heard it before from this very same individual. It hurt nonetheless.
I spent days broken and feeling generally beaten up. I starting doubting, buying into reality and allowing my vision to slip by the wayside. Then, I started to see things for what they really were. This person had never attempted anything daring. This individual had always “played it safe”. I can even recall asking at one point, “Didn’t you ever have something you hoped for, something really big that you knew had to be a part of your life?” The response? “No, not really.” It was said in the most passive, uninterested tone you could imagine. I understood then that this person would never fully understand me or my vision.
For years, I have allowed small minds to make decisions for me. I’ve pretty much stuck to the standard, always following the status quo. Now, I know why I never was happy and why, as long as I follow that path, I never will be. People who refuse to dream can’t understand those who do. I know I was made to live out this vision, and I’ll be damned if I let one more small mind tell me I can’t.
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929 – 1968)
Home is a dogwood bloom
A long-leaf pine
A Carolina moon
Home is a cardinal red
A run-down barn
A rusted shed
Home is an open field
A John Deere tractor
Home is the smell of fresh-cut grass
Flowers growing wild
Sweet tea in a glass
Home is grapes growing red on the vine
A hawk in the sky
A place to unwind
Home is a spring watching flowers bloom all around
Home is an autumn with leaves falling to the ground
Home is a summer spent fishing a small pond
Home is a winter waking to a blanket of snow at dawn
Home is my mom hanging clothes on the line
Home is my dad in his shop just passing the time
Home is the place where memories were made
Where prayer was a part of every day
Home is the place I’ll always long to be
Among the yellow pines and the evergreens
No matter where life takes me this one thing I see
My North Carolina home will be there waiting for me
I grew up in the farmlands of Eastern North Carolina. It’s beautiful country, really. From the time I was born to the moment I left for college at 18, I lived in the same house. From kindergarten through my high school graduation, I went to the same school. From infancy through age 13, I attended the same church. The common theme? Sameness.
For many people, this “sameness” is comforting and even preferable, but for a wild imagination and a restless heart, it’s a burden. I didn’t always see things this way, but as I became more aware of myself and my desires, that sameness became unbearable. My heart craved more – more adventure, more romance, more…well, of pretty much everything. I am a soul never fully satisfied.
One day, I imagine this restless heart will find its true happiness and settle down, but for now, it’s wild and free and on the search for something different. Gone are the days when I could sit idly by and allow sameness to dominate my life. Everyone, whether they choose to admit it or not, longs for a great adventure. Some step bravely onto that open road and embrace the unknown. Others choose to be paralyzed by fear. It is my desire that I will courageously take on that mysterious path and at its end find peace for this restless heart.
The sun rises on freshly fallen snow
As a new winter day begins
The air is crisp, cool, and still
Welcoming the daylight in
The land transformed into a world of white
Awakens to the dawn
A farmer emerges from his home
Shaking away a sleepy yawn
He pauses for a moment to take in the scene
This place of glorious white
The fields covered by a blanket of snow
Falling softly in the night
In the east comes the sun and its radiant warmth
Casting colors across the snow
The vast blue of the sky above
Shows off its brilliant glow
The evergreens bent low to the ground
Beneath the icy weight
Greet the farmer as he walks on past
The rusty metal gate
He travels on stopping here and there
To glance at the lovely scene
The frozen surface of the fishing pond
Reveals a dazzling sheen
He crosses the field to the wooden barn
Looming dark against the snow
As he opens the door to walk inside
A soft breeze begins to blow
He glances back one last time
At the world outside the door
Then pulling his coat tight around him
He begins his daily chores
Though I’m not yet sure why, those four numbers cause a great deal of excitement within me. To be honest, I find myself anticipating each new calendar year the way I used to yearn for Christmas morning as a child. There’s just something about a new year, a fresh start, a clean slate. However, this year, I am more excited than usual. I really don’t know what this year has in store for me, but I sense greatness on the horizon.
I ceased making New Year’s resolutions several years ago. To me, they were often an unattainable goal with unrealistic expectations. Because of this, I failed…every time. I started, instead, to choose one word I wanted to define my year. In the past, these words have included hope, forward, freedom. This year my word is STRENGTH. As I said, I have no idea what these next 360+ days hold for me, but I know that strength will be required for every phase of the journey.
It is time to step into this new year with renewed passion, focus, and determination. This is the year of fulfillment. This is the year of promise. This is the year of endless possibilities. Welcome to 2018!