The Rocket Ship Incident

I have always been drawn to the idea of doing big things. In the 5th grade, a classmate told me that her dad had just run a marathon and was so sore he couldn’t get out of his easy chair. I remember thinking “I don’t know what a marathon is, but I want that!”

I must have been 6 or 7 when I had the grand idea to build a rocket ship. I was going to use an old dairy carton for the cockpit, and hot chocolate as fuel. I was utterly serious. And I was seriously bugging my mom, who at the time was plenty busy with 5 small children. I think it is important that I do an aside here and say, my mom was an encouraging and loving mother. But she was also up to her elbows in very small children during the rocket ship incident. The second my dad walked in the door from work, she pawned me off on him. I have a vague recollection of hearing phrases like “talk some sense into her” and “do something about this”. So my dad pulled me aside, and asked me to tell him about my project. I don’t remember what I said, but I do remember what he did next. He pulled out the old family encyclopedia, and we read all about rocket ships. Then he asked me in all seriousness if I would be willing to fly the rocket ship to California on the next trip to visit his family. He requested I take an extra kid with me. He said that way the old station wagon wouldn’t be quite so crowded. I nodded a silent assent, and we had a brief cuddle. Now I know I don’t need to tell you that my dad never really believed I could create a rocket ship. But he made me believe I could. And that was a gift. Like so many of my other big dreams, I forgot about the rocket ship and moved on pretty much instantly.

My propensity for dreaming big did not happen by accident. I observed, in my childhood, a mother who was always looking for the next great hill to conquer. And conquer she did. I grew up with siblings of a similar mindset. My brothers and sisters are impressive in their accomplishments. And don’t even get me started on my extended family. My aunts are a force to be reckoned with. Every last one of them. But nobody is a bigger dreamer than my dad. And I don’t mean the kind of dreamer who talks big and accomplishes little. My dad is the kind of dreamer who understand that every big accomplishment starts with a big dream. Bring that man your big idea, and he will dream along with you.

He knows, as well as I do, that sometimes the dreams don’t work out. But dreaming big is ok. It is fun. It is in fact, vital to quality of life. For every 10 dreams you have, if even one of them comes to fruition, it’s worth it. I have taken this prospective with me throughout my life. And I have done some pretty great things as a result. I have also had to let a lot of dreams go. Such is life. And I have no regrets.

I never did build my rocket ship. But I did run a marathon. And guess who ran it with me?

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