I think a lot about things like dreams and aspirations and strange concepts such as "success." How do we discover dreams? What aspirations are worthy of pursuit? What defines success?
Sometimes our dreams go undiscovered. They are undiscovered due to not knowing how to find them. They are undiscovered because we don't seek them due to the influences of others or our own critical selves. Sometimes they frighten us, and we avoid them. Sometimes we just never think about dreams, and don't even look.
I recently watched a video, kind of a documentary. As a kid I fell in love with magic, the performing art. Like most kids, I learned a few tricks. Unlike most adults, I have kept it up, a bit. I have recently dusted off my magic stuff and practiced a bit. It is fun, and I might just find a way to make a few bucks with this in my retirement.
In the documentary you will see a number of teenage people aspiring to be the best in their age group. These kids are good. Really good. The documentary is valuable in documenting their aspirations and the effort it takes to be really good at anything. Yep. These kids sacrificed their time, focused on their art, and they practiced. They practiced a lot.
The art of magic is a fringe art. It is geeky and awkward, even among other performing arts. These are ubergeeks, these young people. Their devotion is amazing, especially to someone like myself who never really aspired to be the best at anything. I never acquired the passion and the focus. I have achieved successes in my life, but I never went for the gold like these kids.
I relate to this documentary because magic was one of my interests in my youth, and has been an interest through most of my life. I have some idea just how much these young artists had to work to get where they did. Teenagers. Not a group noted for their dreams and aspirations bearing such fruit. Only one among the competitors becomes the best in the world, but they are all huge winners. Not sitting around in a pool of teenage angst for them. Aspiration and achievement, even if they don't all grab the brass ring.
Watching something like this always leaves me with mixed feelings. Why wasn't I like that? Well, I just wasn't. We all have a lot of variables that comprise who we were when we were born, and a lot more variables come into play over time. The star performer, the most successful politician, the richest rich guy all catch the attention of the public, but there are a multitude of lesser successes which are achieved every day. Those little successes are the ones that really push us all forward as a people.
Think about something like, say, a documentary about a group of teenagers who aspire to be the best teen magician in the world. How many people would it take to make that documentary? Lots. Not as many as a block-buster movie, but a lot. Videographers, audio recorders. Lighting people. Writers. Administrators. Legal people. Somebody to pack and ship stuff. Lots of people. People with dreams and aspirations. People who have their own forms of success. People who, together, create a corporate success.
Success is not accidental. Oh, the final form of any one person's success might have accidental elements in it, but success itself is not accidental. Thought, study, planning and practice all go into success. Hours and hours. Most of the young people in the video practiced five hours every day. Every day. That, just to make the top fifteen young magicians in the world. Failure at that level is still quite a success.
Sometimes success is better defined in retrospect. For example, my career in corrections. I became a correctional officer as a consequence of having a family to care for and no real direction as to how to do that. I did not have a real plan, just the desire for a job that met the needs. The corrections thing became something to aspire to in order to provide for my family. It was never more than a job to me.
In the course of performing this difficult task I learned a lot about myself, and discovered I had the necessary skills to manage inmates successfully. I was not particularly adept at the office politics, and I have to imagine that there are plenty of people I worked for who would only consider me marginally successful. However, feedback from inmates and my fellow officers confirmed that I did the job well. I was a success.
In my youth I never aspired to be the best teen magician in the world. Striving for such a thing would not have occurred to me. Yet it occurred to at least a few young people. It occurred to someone else to document their aspirations, efforts and successes. As a consequence, I got to enjoy being informed, entertained, and inspired.
Find your dreams, and follow them. Aspire. Strive and loose. Strive and win. Value your successes, especially the ones you see only when you look back. Value the successes of others, too. We all need an audience, or a cheering section, or someone to help us get back up.
I am currently 62 years old. At present I am a retired correctional officer with 20 years of service. (My real job these days is being a Grandpa.)
I am married to my long-suffering wife, Linda. I have three children; Matthew, Beth, and Jon. I currently have six grandchildren; Alexandra, Madelyn, Wyatt, Lucas, Abigail and Landon.