I was staggering to the kitchen for coffee when I heard his alarm beeping at 4:15 this morning, only a few minutes after I dragged myself out of bed. My thirteen year old was downstairs in no time, straight faced not because of sleep cut short by early rising, but by laser focus on the task at hand. It’s tournament day, when he’ll be out at daybreak to dip his line in frigid water, hoping that over the course of eight hours, the bass will bite.
I began my pre-dawn battery of questions:
Me: "Do you have the life vests?"
Fisher Boy: "Yes."
Me: "It’s freezing out there. Did you pack gloves? "
Fisher Boy: "Yup."
Me: "Lunch? "
Fisher Boy: "Uh-huh. And water. And toilet paper. You know… just in case."
(We both smile.)
Me: "Extra line?"
Fisher Boy: "Of course. Mom… I’ve got this."
We loaded the gear, made the eighty minute drive north to Lake Mitchie and pulled up in a long line of much older fishermen towing fully rigged boats with multiple motors. The jon boat my boy bought with his own money carried only basic gear, just one motor and the vessel hung out of the back of our beaten up old Suburban. (That's right y'all. Canadian/British families can be red necks, too!) Without any sign of feeling inferior, Fisher Boy ran off to register for the only thing he was focussed on, the tournament. I sat waiting in the morning quiet, looking out over the lake, where soft rays of the rising sun cast an amber glow on the water. And I thought about what you have to be willing to do to make your dream come true.
It requires sacrifice and discipline, planning, organizing and executing. It means relying on your supporters to help you run the race. It calls for you to dig deep and keep trying even after you fail again and again. (At the last tournament, his first, the boy caught nothing. All day long.) It demands that you believe your dream is worth giving everything you have for the possibility that maybe, just maybe you’ll be the one who breaks through and grabs that prize dangling at the end of a long, hard road.
This grit and determination and passion are what fuel Olympic athletes to cross finish lines. They’re the stuff of people who run marathons, lose weight, write books, become the best at something, and catch a prize winning fish.
I’ve determined that the key to sticking with a dream that requires a long term commitment is passion. You have to love what you’re doing. And you have to believe in it. My boy would fish 24-7 if he could. From the time he was three years old, there was nothing he loves more than being out on the water, breathing the air, trying new baits, new places, and new techniques. When he’s not fishing, he reads about the sport and watches an endless stream of videos. He is insatiable as he full-throttle chases his dream of becoming a pro fisherman.
A lot of us say we want something. We talk a lot. We hope a lot. But are we full throttle? Are we putting every bit of extra time, energy and focus into it? Do we fail, but get right back up and try it again? Do we wonder if we’ll be successful instead of focussing only on the steps it takes to be successful?
Today, while my Fisher Boy is out on the water, doing the work it takes to chase his dream, I am renewed in my commitment to my own dream of completing the daunting task of writing a true story that I believe in so passionately I could burst. For now, I’ll ignore the questions that sometimes nag me: Will the book sell? Will it sink into obscurity before it can reach hearts and inspire dreams? Maybe you question the viability of your dream, too. But today, I lean into the example of my Fisher Boy, who did not set out in the dawn wondering about the results eight hours from then. He instead focussed on the job at hand, on doing and enjoying doing what he loves most. He already understands that the outcome will take care of itself.
May all of us dreamers do likewise and believe.
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