Monday, July 24, 2006

Dreams and Regrets

One of the chapters in My Name is Esther Clara is "Dreams and Regrets." In that chapter, my 90-year-old Grandma reminisces about the small dreams that came true and her regrets about the ones that didn't. The dreams she and Grandpa transformed to reality were small ones, but life-enriching in ways meaningful to them:
  • they hoped to own their own home and finally fulfilled that dream after 29 years of marriage. Home ownership, in their eyes, measured their success as a couple;
  • Grandma wanted a modern automatic washer and dryer so Grandpa saved his money and finally bought her the best they could afford;
  • Grandpa had dreamed of seeing the ocean since he was a young lad feeding his imagination through books. One year during a trip to Pennsylvania, their son took them to the Atlantic shore so Grandpa got to roll his pants legs up and wade the waters he had dreamed of all his life.

The regrets Grandma contemplated were dreams left unpursued for one reason or another:

  • after retirement, Grandpa wanted to take her to Hawaii as the honeymoon they never had. Grandma said no, because she feared leaving the continental U.S. and also thought they were too old;
  • Grandpa loved caves and dreamed of visiting Carlsbad Caverns. By the time they could afford such a trip, Grandpa's vision had failed and Grandma's practical side prevailed.

Most people I know are just like Grandma and Grandpa, postponing their dreams until they have more money or time. Hopes, dreams, plans are put on hold until retirement, until the kids get through college or the house is paid off. There's no sin in being practical, but life is short and sometimes we face a hard row to hoe from cradle to grave. Our dreams are the flavoring that makes hard times palatable. Grandma saw that clearly near the end of her long life.

So what are your dreams, large or small? Like Grandpa, I've always wanted to experience the ocean. So what's stopping me? I've dreamed of owning a home that would be ideal for a writer's retreat? Why didn't I follow through? If my dreams don't come true, should I blame lack of time, money, planning, vision, courage? I wonder what Grandma's answer would be to that question.


tom said...

Run, don't walk, to the ocean. Better yet, fly--you get there faster. When I first saw the ocean it was a restless, pounding North Atlantic and I was enthralled. I was with Lori's parents and they had seen it so many times it was just an ocean, but to me it was magical. Ever since I've craved witnessing its driving power and its loveliness. Unbelievable. YOU NEED TO GO! (So do I, for that matter.) Listen to your grandmother, Laurel.

Mitts said...

A resounding AMEN to Tom's comment.Add that ocean to the must do list along with your writers retreat that is just across the state line in Washington Co. Kansas!!

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I enjoy good writing by writers and poets who are not famous. My mother said I was born a hundred years too late. The older I get, the more I realize how right she was.

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