Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Dream Big Dreams

I discovered something this weekend: it’s nice to surround yourself with people who follow their dreams. As I’ve gotten older I’ve done a lot of cleaning house in my personal life. I realized that as time kept flying by, my days seemed shorter, so it was critical that I spend my time concentrating on positive things and positive people. And this weekend I got a taste of how sweet it is to know amazing people.

I have to be honest and say I was not a good sport when the weekend started. I spent all day Saturday at work and by the time evening rolled around I was tired. The last thing I wanted to do was go out, squeeze into stadium seating with crowds of other people, and watch a lengthy orchestra concert performed by high school kids. But one of those kids was a kid I call my extra son. He lives down the street and has become a part of our family in the past few years. I adore this kid and knew the right thing to do was to attend his concert.

I rushed home after work, rounded up a few family members, then headed off to the high school to do my duty. As expected we had to jostle through a large crowd and scurry to find four seats together. Again, not what I would have preferred to do on a tired Saturday night. Then the concert started.

It was amazing. The energy in that auditorium was infectious. The way those kids belted out that first song, a rock song, and the excitement they generated was more than enough to pull me out of my slump. The stress and tiredness from my day faded away and I sank back in my chair, in complete awe of what those kids could do.

They were fired up because this concert was the culmination of a workshop they’d experienced with a visiting musician named Mark Wood. He brought along his contagious enthusiasm for music but also something more inspiring - his electric instruments. Wood is one of the few people who takes orchestra instruments and makes them electric.

Obviously, this is a very exciting idea to most teen age kids. You could see in their actions and in their faces how much this one man helped these kids fall in love with their craft in a whole new way. It was an honor to be in the audience to watch it happen.

And to make it even more special, in the middle of the concert I had another surprise. One kid had made this whole thing happen. One kid was a huge fan of Mark Wood and got the wheels turning to make this amazing thing happen.

That kid was my extra son.

In all of the days he had been hanging out at my house he’d never mentioned that it was his idea to have this super star come to his school. He told me they were having a visitor but never revealed his part in the process. But my boy had a dream, for years he’d had this dream, and Saturday night it all came true. I could not have been more proud if he were my own real son. And I was in awe that I live every day in the presence of this kid.

We went to bed with the shimmer of pride for our extra son but the alarm clock woke us early on Sunday morning. We were due to arrive at a church out in the country to see a musical that I had heard about and felt a need to attend. Mainly because this musical, every note of every song, every line of dialogue, was written by a friend of mine and her husband.

For a long, long time I have heard her talk about this project, this musical about Daniel from the Bible, and been fascinated that she would undertake such a large venture. I kept telling her, ‘Let me know when you’re done. I’d love to see it.’ But I knew musicals are complicated and it might be a decade before the project came to fruition.

But it didn’t take a decade. She and her husband finished it last year and their church performed it this year, last week in fact. We showed up early to get good seats and settled in to see what our friend was capable of. And once again, twice in 12 hours, I was blown away.

The music was amazing. The dialogue was engaging and meaningful. The storyline was accurate to history but made so personal as it played out on the stage in front of us. Every character was perfectly cast, even though she ‘only’ had members of her church to pick from. Through the whole production I kept thinking to myself, “How is it possible that I know people who are capable of these things?”

So even though it was a crazy weekend, much more full of activity than a normal weekend for our family, it was worth every minute. My eyes were opened to what can happen when ordinary people have extraordinary dreams. I saw for myself how rich life can be when you don’t let doubts get in your way. It’s time I get my dreams in order and start my own pursuits.

I’d hate to disappoint these big dreamers who seem to surround me on all sides.


Clif Bullard said...

I know the young man you're speaking of. Even though I live a considerable distance away, I've watched him grow since before he was in kindergarden, and have always considered him and his brother to be "extra nephews."

I've seen him pursue several dreams over the years, and he succeeds much more often than he fails. I'm not sure, but I think part of it may be as simple as not "knowing" that he can't do something, so he doesn't put that roadblock in front of himself.

He's now taking on a much larger battle... and as you might expect, he's charging the gates with a battle cry on his lips and his instrument in his hands.

The "enemy castle" in this case is his own school system -- they're trying to put through some massive cuts, including the art and music programs.

If he loses this battle, we ALL lose. Programs like the one you saw will cease to exist, and students will no longer get to learn music in school.

Some people's response to that is, "Why should I care?" That depends on whether you care that there will be no more band scholarships to help more students go to college. It depends on whether you care that there is a direct correlation between learning music and improved test scores in mathematics and science. Whether you have a child in school or not, having people living in your area with these higher skills still benefits you, in terms of the jobs that will be willing to come there.

It depends on whether you care about changing people's lives for the better. That one single concert touched a lot of people. It lifted them up, inspired them, invigorated them. Now those effects spread out like ripples in a pond. Like those ripples, when they touch anything else on the pond, a new epicenter forms and ripples spread out again... and again... and again.

But you can't drop one stone in the pond and have ripples forever. They have to be renewed, fresh ripples have to be made, or they die out.

We can't let this battle fail. If that castle is allowed to stand, then everybody loses.

This is one battle that he can't fight alone, nor should he have to try. He needs our help. What do you say? Are you willing to take up the sword and shield and follow this bright, energetic young man into battle? Shall we send him forth alone, or will he march with an army at his back?

jennifer said...

What an inspiring weekend of music! I am so impressed that your extra son had the wherewithall to make such an exciting, transformative thing happen at his school. Also jealous - I played violin in junior high and high school and our teacher, Mrs. Spotts, was not exactly "electrifying." And the musical is such a massive project - how inspiring!

Terry said...

you are an inspiration to every one around you. How wonderful that you got to enjoy the talent all around you. How lucky they are to have you as a friend. You really have such an unbelievable way about you and I've never even met you. I love your writing and love your heart felt thoughts.