One Small Dream That Came True

Matheson Hammock

You’re on a beach, beneath a coconut palm, sipping a cold juice, as you watch the antics of a pudgy naked baby digging in the sand and splashing at the water’s edge. It’s not your baby, but the pureness of the scene delights you at your core.

I was that baby. Frolicking in the buttery waters of a small protected lagoon called Matheson Hammock in Miami. 

That joyful memory burned itself into my psyche, and I always dreamed that one day my own child would be that baby, shrieking with the same delight. But that simple little notion stood frozen for decades, buried beneath the fear that I may never have kids. Until, at age 45, my first lovely son waded through that gentle water, his own dimpled tush covered in sand. I stood a few feet away and teared up silently behind my sunnies.

Dreams need not be epic to be important.

“All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.” T. E. Lawrence.

We all yearn for  the home runs: wealth, creative power, professional ascendance. But, we often brush past the everyday events we hope for … and achieve.

Life is the small stuff stacked into a pile. And that pile becomes our memories. And those memories become our narrative.

It could be as basic as doing down dog with feet finally flat on the ground after 20 years of hamstrings tight as bridge girders (thank you, Day!). Or throwing your conservative upbringing to the wind to get a tattoo. Or cooking an eggplant parm tender enough to cut with a fork. Whatever it is, that quiet victory satisfied you deeply. And that satisfaction is something you should revisit and wallow in a while. “Spend some time wit it, mon,” a Rasta once said to me. Sage advice.

Regal Elephant, acrylic & Chinese funeral paper on paper, 8"x12", Stuart Sheldon
Regal Elephant, acrylic & Chinese funeral paper on paper, 8″x12″, Stuart Sheldon

Walt Disney said, “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” Bullshit. Many of our dreams die on the vine. But that’s okay. Many do indeed come true. That is not to say that we should not dream big. Quite the contrary. Go big or go home. But keep those big mama dreams in perspective. Not a day goes by that I don’t wish I was shooting the breeze with Terry Gross about my memoir, A Lonely Fool’s Masterpiece, and the extraordinary odyssey it represents in the life of my wife and me. But, finding an A-list publisher is tough these days. I get it. It’s fine. I’m on it.

Our big dreams will always be there, the mountains we all aim to climb. Hopefully, we all summit.

But think of a tiny dream you’ve achieved recently that really felt good in your gut? Honor that small personal triumph that meant something to you.

Do a little victory dance in the end zone of your heart. Go ahead and spike the ball! Then share it here.

 This post is dedicated to my friend and food artist, Chris L’Hommedieu and his wife Kendra Stanley. Chris died yesterday at 44. But his food and grace personally fulfilled some of my dreams. 

I Want to be a Dentist!

Gore Vidal died this week. Google him and 35,400 results appear. Because he was the greatest essayist of his age.

Yet, he failed at the two greatest ambitions of his life: to hold high political office and be considered the  pre-eminent writer of his time. He lost 2 runs for office and was judged by most literary measures to fall behind rivals such as John Updike, Saul Bellow and Philip Roth. Was he a failure in his own mind?

This all got me thinking about my own greatest aspirations. What is it that I most want to achieve in my life? What is the holy grail? And how am I doing on the path to achieving this? What is yours?

For many years mine was finding love and starting a family. Got that one sorted after 40 years wandering in the desert. Next up is publishing a book. That feat is nearly complete and said book, currently titled A Lonely fool’s Masterpiece, should be available in the next 6 months. So what’s the big endgame for the duration of my life?

The answer has something to do with raising happy kids … but that feels to abstract and too easy a response. I need a finite achievement. Like the elf in Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer who is absoultely clear that he wants to bail from Santa’s toy factory to be a dentist. What I really want to be is a philospher king. But barring that, I’ll take working author/artist with five books, at least one of them a novel, on the shelf before I kick.

Meantime, I need to go pick up my kids from camp. Hope they had a happy day.