When One Dream Fails

April 22, 2015

I was seven years old when the Russians launched the Sputnik satellite, placing it into an orbit around Earth for the first time in human history.  Since that moment I became an avid follower of the space program. I suffered with its early disasters and rejoiced in its later successes. All U.S.A. launches were of such great interest to the citizens, and each of such historic significance, that during our school day, TV’s were set up in classrooms so live launches could be observed by the students.

My enthusiasm never waned. I built and flew model rockets as a member of a local club, and competed nationally with that club throughout the country. The Manned Spacecraft Center in Texas and the Air Force Academy in Colorado, were among those consenting to host those events. After high school I majored in Mathematics with hopes of fulfilling my dream to be a part of the ongoing exploration of space.

Just after graduation, I was hired as a systems analyst by a research and development company that was under contract to the Navy; which designed and manufactured helicopter and jet flight simulators to train pilots. Not quite the entry into the aerospace field that I had in mind, but I saw it as a stepping stone. As time passed I found that the every day drudgery that was necessary had reduced the thrill that I once held for the field to boredom. I suppose in my exuberant youth I solely focused on the romantic end of the mission itself. Failing to understand that the real mission was in the detail work between the idea and its ultimate reality. Within two years of my start, I left the profession.

During my time in the industry I became interested in coaching sports. My mother suggested I do so as a diversion from my daily work routine. The moment I met my first team I experienced something that I never had in my profession; I felt that I belonged. This initial venture later propelled me to a mathematics teaching position, and eventually to coaching high school athletics. My primary sport would be girls volleyball. The experience that I treasured while teaching and coaching children would never have been true of my previous profession. For one was so impersonal and the other quite the opposite. I found that both teaching and coaching were my inclination. There was much drudgery work involved in those occupations, as well. But, here I possessed the stomach for it. I’m sure there are those who would rightly disagree. Yet, one’s honey is another’s vinegar.

Dreams, we all have. Most fade to illusion while some sharpen to crystal clear reality. I never dreamed about my aerospace job. If I did, those dreams would likely be nightmares. However, I did often dream of teaching and especially coaching. There is one dream in particular that I remember vividly to this day. I had just completed my first year of coaching high school volleyball. My every waking hour was spent in studying ,designing practices and game strategy to help improve our team that had won just one game my first year. In my dream our team was in a championship game. And at its end we were victorious. There was joy, excitement and celebration. However, one strange thing was evident. Although the victors were wearing our school uniforms, they had no faces. No identifying features to determine who they were. The only conclusion that I could draw from this dream was that if we were ever to win a championship it would not be with these players. I had that dream in 1979. In 1983, we would win our first state championship. By the time I retired our teams would win four state titles; with many of my players continuing to play on the college level and a number of them on scholarship.

You see, dreams can come true. But not without an inclination that leads to inspiration. One must possess an aptitude toward the subject of one’s dream, a desire for learning and the attitude-as that of the farmer who daily puts his hand to the plow-to successfully carry out all that is required in attaining the goal; the realization of the dream. Passion has its purpose. And that is to keep one not only on task, initially, but for the long haul. For the true dream fulfilled is not in the moment that a goal is secured, but in the continued exercise of that which feeds the passion. It is the thing, the purpose, the calling, your gift, that makes the doing worthwhile.

“Passion makes every detail important.” – G.K. Chesterton

My emotion fooled me to believe that my calling was in the aerospace field. Our emotions will do that. For we can be dazzled by many things in life. But, some things that impress do not impel us enough to give our hearts to them. Infatuations, fueled by emotion, are not founded in love. They attract interest, yet do not last. Only to that which we can give our love is also where our hearts are found. And love is not of emotion, it is of the will. Your dream will be moving toward fulfillment when you find yourself doing that which no one else would do in the same circumstance.

I pledged that I would never return to school when I graduated college. But, that pledge was made as a student and not as a teacher. The classroom that once repelled me after fourteen years of education, now beckoned me to return. But, my role had changed. My reluctance as a student transformed into willingness as a teacher. The indifferent attitude that I held toward classroom demands while in front of the teacher’s desk, would be looked upon with enthusiasm from behind it.

No one is limited to one dream in life. When one ends another is ready to begin. All one needs do is but be open to another good. The most important dream to be fulfilled is to do any good thing well. Therein we are all defined. All will recognize us by it. And we will feel God’s pleasure as we use well the gifts He has given.

“Grow where you are planted.” – Saint Mother Teresa

 Often we are called to where we need to be, rather than where we wish to be.

4 Responses to “When One Dream Fails”

  1. “For the true dream fulfilled is not in the moment that a goal is secured, but in the continued exercise of that which feeds the passion.” What an inspiring post Alan, I love your story and your dream. You are a wonderful teacher and your change in career was a gift to those students and all who meet you.

  2. Mimic Nature Says:

    I have wasted many months sitting and wondering what my purpose was and where I belonged when the answer was right before me, I was where I was meant to be and I was living the purpose I was meant to live. Society seems to teach us that our purpose should be something huge and dramatic, when in reality it is the small things that really count. Everyone wants to be the CEO instead of the janitor, and yet the janitor has a huge role in the business, people tend to overlook it just because of certain thoughts they believe about it.

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