My first taste of success was when I was in the third grade and wrote the smash hit short story “Johnny Finkle.” It’s a tale of a small-town Southern boy and his quirky family and if I read it to you today you would be concerned for the sanity level 8-year-old me possessed. For whatever reason though, my classmates and teacher at the time loved it and I would perform it for my class with funny voices and it was a true treat to all who heard it(or at least that’s what my memory has deemed true).
I quickly decided that this was IT. I was going to tour the country reading “Johnny Finkle” to other kids and make billions and billions of dollars and fans. I started working on spin-off series(what happens when Johnny’s even CrAzIeR cousin from England, Bobby Lang, comes for a visit?) and stories that existed in the same world as Johnny’s(where porcupines were a sister’s greatest weapon and the wealthy lived in the sewers) and envisioned myself just really making it big writing and telling these stories to kids and grown-ups that would inevitably lift me on their shoulders and enable me to achieve my true calling–crowd surfing.
I can look back on the ideas and dreams I had during this time with such sweet fondness and pure amusement because they were simple and ridiculous and yet–not impossible. Certainly not completely out of bounds. If I had really buckled down, gotten “Johnny Finkle” into the right hands, maybe there’d be a Netflix Original Series about him RIGHT NOW. You don’t know.
But, just as I imagine the dreams of most of my peers at the time who said “Princess and/or Veterinarian,” my ideas for my future evolved and grew and went in 3487 different directions over the years.
Do I want to admit that I gave up on Johnny? Of course not. But somewhere along the way, Johnny had to stop spending his time throwing apples at the elderly for sport(seriously, the inner workings of my childhood brain are very odd) and learned what the words “realistic” “sustainable” and “$450 car repair” meant. Johnny’s antics just simply weren’t allowed anymore. He did the unthinkable. He grew up.
What’s weird about our current culture is that the whole concept of “what do you dream of being when you grow up?” has totally changed. Because the original question implies that the answer will be just one thing. And certainly when I was a kid, I only could muster up one answer. But now? Whata silly notion. I could do lots of things! And “when you grow up”? I’m pretty sure I already did, but that doesn’t–nor should it–entail a halt in all things dream-related. I’ve got plenty of time to dream of things I’ll do as I continue to grow up, which I’m positive is a continual process. None of us have arrived.
I don’t want to feel like dreaming is stressful. Like somehow the multitude of possibilities I have to experience life and do big things is too scary and I just want someone to tell me what to do and I’ll do it and that’ll be it. I want to access that part of me that once thought “EVERYONE in the WORLD has to hear me tell ‘Johnny Finkle’ because it’s the BEST STORY EVER” and believed it with every fiber of my being.
Dreaming is the fun part. Let planning and logistics help guide your steps, sure. But I kinda like the idea of seeing through the lens that you can and should do quite literally anything. Reality will come whether we ask it to or not.
God gives us lives brimming with possibilities and potential adventures. I can’t sit still some days knowing that I’m so worried about what the next obligation written in my planner is or how much health insurance costs that I’m not dreaming of all the things my inherent talents and goals could accomplish. Actually doing those things? Oh, that’ll stay incredibly intimidating. But why shouldn’t I put my imagination to work and think about an alternate reality where Johnny and his apples are as known as Harry and his wand? I don’t think that just because the future became the present, that we should stop having fun with what our next future could be.