For now, my dreams are those I imagine for my kids. Aspiring to run a marathon, being promoted to Vice President by forty or backpacking through Europe are not in my mind for now.
I have only one dream: for my children to live for their passions.
I don’t want my children to focus on a profession when they think about what they want to be when they grow up. Yes, aiming to be a doctor is admirable. I’d rather that career choice be the outcome of a passion for healing the sick or the result of aspiring to find a cure for a dreaded disease.
One source of constant disappointment that I carry as a Good-Bad Dad is that I have not been a proxy for the passion-filled life I want them to follow. This is the ultimate hypocrisy – parenting my children toward their passion but living myself in its absence.
I can (and do) rationalize the temporary suspension of my own ambitions my normal Good-Bad Dad way – I’m too busy with my kids to worry about me. I have aspirations – but they can wait until the baby sleeps the night or club soccer is no longer.
Time will tell if shunning my dreams in favor of relentless parenting will be a temporary delay or a permanent cancellation.
As a result of not modeling a passion-filled existence, I need to find a way for my kids to find other people doing so. My kids are visual learners and need concrete examples to give credibility to my pie-in-the-sky ideas.
I’ve discovered that I don’t have to look far to find examples. In fact, I came across two such people this week.
As I take my normal “short-cut” home, I pass behind a doggy daycare facility. I often notice the pack of barking dogs on their plastic playground. Yesterday, I took notice of a young man working with the canines.
I heard shrills of laughter ringing above the normal chorus of barks. The passionate way the young man worked with the dogs was unbelievable. The energy he had was commendable to even the bouncy Labrador puppies in pursuit as he ran from side-to-side while smiling ear-to-ear.
As I pulled away, I wondered if there was any job that young man could do that would adequately feed the passion he had.
My next brush with a passion-filled life came when renting a kayak for a family expedition. A local kayak store owner named Bob and I struck up a conversation about how his shop came to be. What he said stuck with me.
Bob explained that he worked in the insurance industry for twenty years but his passion had always been fishing and boating. He spent nights and weekends dreaming of making his passion his life.
He shared that he finally was able to open his shop just two years ago, after having enough of the “boring normal life” at the insurance company. Bob said that he’s never been happier to make “squat.”
I wish my kids could have witnessed the doggy daycare worker energetically playing with the pooches. I wish they could have heard the passion that dripped from Bob’s lips when he talked about his otherwise modest roadside kayak shop.
My kids might think I’ve lost it if I pointed at either gentlemen as a model for how I want them to live – neither would be obviously successful by traditional means. After all, neither drove an obnoxious luxury car or worked in fancy office buildings. The two simply shared a similar notion of not being able to fathom living (or working) another way.
This is a lesson that no textbook can teach or test can evaluate.
I’ll make sure my kids will take note.