Pipe Dreams

Posted by on May 13, 2016 in Hitchhiking | 0 comments

Pipe Dreams

The following is from a contest speech I gave at Toastmasters:

Have you ever made a promise, had a dream, or a set a goal and then tucked it away in the recesses of your heart and forgot all about it. Perhaps you thought it to be a pipe dream, a fools errand, a thought from a bygone time in your life.  After all life is busy, and we don’t have time to realize all our dreams

Madame Contest chair , fellow toastmasters, guests, As a  boy growing up in New England I spent many days at the beach. The Atlantic Ocean was my back yard.. I’d often sit in the shadow of the lighthouse.. feeding the seagulls.. and watch the tide roll in 

  I came home from school one day and my dad gave me…. a globe, I spun it around and saw that the world was covered with oceans.I was fascinated with the thought of seeing these oceans for myself..That night I made a promise to myself that when I was old enough I would go to the pacific ocean to watch the tide roll in. And I tucked that promise away for a later date.

The summer I graduated from high school I untucked my promise and started making plans to go see the pacific ocean

Now the easiest way to get to the Pacific ocean would have been by plane, or bus, or by train. But no ….I’m a idealist. I am going to hitch hike. My mom flipped out and started crossing herself. Lord why did you send this boy to torture me so. My dad just shook his head and asked me if I knew how many kooks were out roaming around the highways. But there was nothing they could do to keep me from my promise, my dream my goal

I put everything I thought I would need, into my backpack, and then some and hit the road.

Have you ever made a promise to yourself and regretted it? I almost turned around after the first day. My pack was so heavy it left bruises on my shoulders. I had blisters on my feet, I did indeed get picked up by a few kooks. AsI lay my bedroll out under the stars that night I was tired, scared, hungry and doubted I could do this. But when the thought of quitting entered my head, I closed my eyes and imagined the tide rolling in and remembered the promise I made to myself….. And I still had 2950 miles to go.

By my fifth day I had made it almost all the way through Pennsylvania. I’d never been this far west before  and I thought  it’d be a good idea to start collecting rocks as mementos of all the places I’d go. Let me tell you something. If you are already carrying  the weight of your world on your shoulders it’s not a good idea to start collecting rocks. But thats exactly what we do as humans. Just like rocks We start collecting excuses and habits that slow down our dreams

Day after day was a new adventure, a new struggle, a new way of figuring things out, and yes, a new rock. One rainy Sunday afternoon outside of Eau-Claire Wisconsin I again almost gave up on my promise, my dream, my goal. I lay my soggy sleeping bag underneath a bridge and I watched the cars, buses, and trucks roll by and I asked myself. Self, what the heck am I doing out here!

I traded a nice comfortable home with a soft dry bed  For this. For a promise? for an ideal? I’m  about as far away from a tide than I’ve ever been. My feet hurt, I’m hungry, I’m cold, II’m wet My shoulders are killing me. I’m all alone in the middle of the country.  I’m sunburnt, I stink. I need a haircut I’m sleeping under a bridge full of pigeons, ants and spiders, all to see gosh darn tide roll in, ! What am I nuts!

Self stayed quiet for a few moments and then  spoke up. Listen here, and listen good you made a promise, you promised to keep it, nobody said it was gonna be easy, nobody told you it wouldn’t take effort, nobody told you you wouldn’t question yourself every step of the way and nobody told you to start collecting rocks!

Now buck up, get some rest, get your hair cut, take a shower and quit your complaining, you wanna quit , quit, Nobody is gonna say nothing either way, except for us. We’ll know that we quit. Now lets get one thing perfectly clear. This isn’t about seeing the damn tide rolling in. This is about setting out on your own and accomplishing a goal, making a dream, and keeping a promise. Thats what this is all about. Thats what dreams and promises do, they test you

Self can be  brutally honest, and most of the time he’s right.

After my little “self” talk  I was more determined than ever to get to the Pacific Ocean. Finally I made it across the great plains and over the majestic rocky mountains  and as I got closer to the west coast it became evident that the promise I made was bigger than I could have imagined. This was about becoming a man, and part of becoming a man was to not quit on myself, my goals my promises and my dreams

37 days after leaving home that old familiar salty scent drifted up on the breeze. I could hear the waves lapping at the shore. I had made it. I walked over the dunes, took my boots off and plopped myself down. It was the most important moment of my life. I realized that it is possible to overcome fears, doubts,and uncomfortable situations in pursuit of my promises goals and dreams. 

So what are the  promises goals and dreams you have  tucked away? Maybes you think they have an expiration date. Ladies and gentleman even if they are laying dormant  in your heart right now, maybe they are not pipe dreams, maybe they are promises to be kept. Maybe they just need to be let out for a walk. And let me just say that if a skinny kid from CT can drag a bag of rocks 3000 miles across the country, anything is possible.

Just before the sun was about to set over the pacific ocean I collected all the rocks from my pack,  walked out into the surf and dropped them into the ocean.I didn’t need mementos to to remind me that I kept my promise to myself.

So what are the  promises goals and dreams you have  tucked away? Maybes you think they have an expiration date. Ladies and gentleman even if they are laying dormant  in your heart right now, maybe they are not pipe dreams, maybe they are promises to be kept. Maybe they just need to

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This