Monday, May 7, 2012

What do you want to be when you grow up?

"What do you want to be when you grow up?"

Every kid is asked this.  From an early age, these answers can range from an astronaut to a famous singer to the President of the United States.  As we grow older, these . . . dreams, we'll call it, seem to be less dreamy and tend to be more . . . let's say practical, for lack of a better word.

Why is that?  What stops us at an early age from dreaming what our life could be like and settle for something mediocre?

For as far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a famous author.  There were times when I diverted to other careers, like rock star and boxer (the Rocky movies influenced this one) and even a biologist.  I have novel beginnings I wrote as far back as 2nd grade, and still have them in spiral notebooks.  Twice in my life, I delved into the rock star realm.  The first time I was in the 4th grade and both my cousin Derek (yes, the Old Wolf himself) sat in his garage writing rock songs.

Having grown up in the wilds of northwestern Minnesota, my exposure to rock music was fairly limited.  My parents were country music lovers and didn't care for the old "Jungle Music" I was listening to--although, it was nothing compared to the stuff I listened to when I was sixteen, my second and longest stint into the rock star dream realm (I was a lover of 80's hair bands, and still love to crank the old tunes to this day).

My exposure to rock music in the 4th grade was probably limited to the "King" AKA Elvis Presley.  One day, while sitting in our basement and writing a song--I didn't play any instrument at this point but wanted a "red guitar with lightning on it"--when my Mom asked me, "You know, if you're a rock star, you probably won't be spending any Christmases with us, because you'll be out on tour."

I remember looking at the TV and seeing something about Elvis Presley but I don't know what it was about.  I then thought this wasn't so bad, spending a few Christmases away from the family, so I said, "Okay, that's fine, I guess."

I went right back to writing.

A few minutes later, she came back in and said, "You know, Santa Claus probably won't be able to find you either."

That did it.  My rock star career, in the 4th grade, was officially over.  I closed the notebook.

Kind of funny, when I think about it nowadays.  I love music, and even bought my Fender Squire II Stratocaster, red in color, when I turned eighteen and paid cash for it at a little music shop in Thief River Falls.  I played for hours on it, but never displayed the talent to make myself the next Eddie Van Halen or Steve Vai.  Those guys have talent.

But what I did have was a love for writing.  I did write songs--probably close to thirty by the time I was a freshman in college--and even put music to many of them.

In the end, writing and my dream of being a famous author is what drives me.  I don't blame my Mom for what she did back when I was in the 4th grade.  I laugh about it nowadays.  But if I may indulge for a moment, let me speak to all parents out there: don't squash your kids' dreams, no matter how wild and crazy they are (unless it's to be a beach bum and sell drugs or something illegal and immoral).  Fuel their passions.  Encourage them.

Because what are you afraid of?

Is it that they'll be more successful than you?  That should be every parents' wish, for their children to have a better life.

What are you waiting for?  Tell them today.  Now.  Tell them to live their dream.

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