“So, I have a question to ask you, what is your dream in life?” I ask him, excited to uncover his story. “What makes you happy?”
“Hapiness?” He laughs, “To have a good glass of whiskey!” I now join in on the laughter, before he takes a moment to think. “My dream? I’m 90 years old!” He sighs, “I can’t have life dreams anymore, I’m too old for that… My life is behind me”.
A heavy silence falls upon us. It only lasts a couple seconds but it feels like eternity. I suddenly begin to wonder if me asking him this question is making him feel disheartened as opposed to inspired which was my original intention. Although I find it inspiring and heart opening to talk about peoples’ inner heart’s desires, perhaps when one reaches a certain age this question is depressing. I cringe as he looks into the distance with wrinkles hanging over his eyes that have seen nearly a century pass by.
Shit. You need to put an age limit on your interviewees my rational mind begins to whisper as I fiddle with my hair uncomfortably. Don’t be silly my heart immediately reassues me, age is just a number, we are eternal beings and whether one is 10 years old or 100 years old makes no difference – a dream is a dream and one is always able to achieve it. Go on, continue..
I clear my throat. “Your life is not behind you! It is happening right now…” I begin. “When you were younger though, what was your dream for your life?”
“My dream? No one has ever asked me that before. I guess it would have been for health… yes, good health”.
“Well you are the only person that I have met who has made it to 90 years old! That’s amazing! It means that you achieved your dream!” I say encouragingly feeling like we are back on track.
“Yes, I think so” he smiles. The mood has instantly changed. “My dream was also to have love in my life, to have someone to share my life with, children of my own… My mother died when I was 5 years old and my father put me into an orphanage. I lived there till I was 18 years old. I didn’t grow up with love in my life, I didn’t even know what it was, you see. I had to teach myself how to love, I had to learn. It was tough. I had no friends in the orphanage. It was a very hard way to grow up… People say ‘what can I do for life?’ but I have come to learn that it is actually about ‘what life can do for me’. Life took my mother from me, life put me in the orphanage. These things were my fate. But how you react to the things that happen in your life is what changes your fate into your destiny. It is all about your attitude. I could have felt sorry for myself and done nothing, but I was determined to have love and health and a family of my own, and so when I turned 18 and left the orphanage I began working. I learned how to do bookkeeping for a business, then I worked for a Wholesaler’s company. After years of learning the ins and outs I eventually formed a partnership with a man I’d met at my job and we opened our own wholesalers business. One thing always leads to another in life… We don’t know where we are headed but we must go ahead with determination…” He appears to be seeing images of his life flash by as he shares his story with me, a virtual slideshow of memories inside his head.
“Today I am a man of wealth,” he smiles, “but I worked very hard for every cent. I didn’t want to live with nothing as I had done in my childhood. This was another of my dreams, to be successful… I have 4 children of my own, and 12 grandchildren. I have a woman to share my life with. I have found love” the smile that carves a frame on his face is contagious. He looks like a little boy, so happy and innocent.
“So you wanted to have good health, and you are now 90 years old, which is a testament to your health. And you wanted to have love in your life and you have a big family and a life partner. You wanted to be successful and you made a lot of money. It seems to me like you achieved all of your life dreams!” I say raising my glass of water. “It is so inspiring! You actually had dreams and made them come true – not many people can say that for themselves! ”
“Yes, I guess I did!” He exclaims as if realising for the first time that he completed what he intended to do. “I could have made a bit more money,” he giggles. “To grow old or to become rich I believe is one’s fate – it’s either in your stars or it isn’t. This I have realised in my 90 years. All of my younger siblings and friends have all passed away, I’m the only one left standing. I didn’t do anything differently to them that I am aware of. Perhaps it all boils down to attitude,” he takes a deep breath of reflection.
I take advantage of the reflective mood that has taken its toll and decide to delve into territory that is a rather sensitive topic. “It’s not everyday that I am face to face with someone who has your age and amount of life experience, so I am wondering…” I pause as I sift for the politically correct words. It feels like I’m fishing in a chlorine filled swimming pool – there are no ‘correct’ words for what I want to know and so instead I put on my bathing suit and sommersault head first into the pool. “Do you ever think of death? Of what happens afterwards? How do you feel about it?”
“Yes… yes I do. Of course! Not a day goes by that I don’t! But I think I will be in a place filled with flowers and rolling green hills, where everything is happy and pleasant and all the things in life that weigh us down will be removed… What other way can I look at it? I can’t be scared for what comes next, it is inevitable. It will happen,” he pauses, “And it will be good… I guess it is part of my next dream!”
What do you think? What is your life dream? Do you find this story inspiring? We shouldn’t allow ‘our story’ to hold us back, we should use courage and determination like this man did, to not just follow our dreams, but to chase them down and make them a reality 🙂