A Dream Delayed
Or a Dream Dashed

There I was at Walmart shopping the other day. I don’t particularly like shopping and try to do most of it on Amazon. It is faster, and there is far more variety. However, I picked up some items for Halloween table decorations, yogurt, frozen foods, etc. I went to the checkout place where I could do it myself and cut down my wait time. As luck would have it, I scanned two bags containing several gourds, but the third identical bag of gourds wouldn’t scan. It wasn’t long before an employee came and tried. Again, for some reason, it didn’t work. I suggested to the assistant that it might be free. She said that she had one more way of resolving it, and it worked.

I would have been out of there by then had I gone to a regular line and had a cashier do everything for me. Nevertheless, I was scanning the last few items when the gal next to me scanning her groceries said, “Do I know that handsome young guy under the mask?” I wear masks even though I have had two shots of Moderna.

I was startled and responded, “What?” She repeated her question. I looked at the lady and was dumbfounded. She might know me, but I didn’t know her. After a minute of bantering back and forth, I asked her what her name was, which she gave me. I didn’t recognize her, but I knew the name from three decades ago. She was a good friend of mine years ago. I stammered for what seemed like an hour, to which she laughingly replied, “Al, you were never a loss for words years ago.”

Finally, I pulled myself together, and before she left, I gave her my business card, which had my home address, web address, and phone number. The last thing that I said was that I wanted to sit down with her and talk. She smiled and didn’t say anything.

What a happy brief moment in time…at least for me. It has been several days, and my old friend hasn’t called. Interestingly, my card also has Bobby Kennedy’s quote, “Some men see things as they are and say, why; I dream things that never were and say, why not.” Bobby has been the most influential mentor in my life.

I’m faced with a strange paradox. If someone went out of her way to say hello, I would think that she would call. The other vexing issue is that Kennedy’s dreaming comment is essentially me; I am a dreamer.

“I dream things that never were and say, why not.”

However, dreams delayed or not realized burn within me. Patience hasn’t ever been my forte, nor do I like to face dashed dreams.

Beyond the dreaming issue, I have an idiosyncrasy. When I want to express something to a person, I am driven. Case in point. I danced with death twice in 2008 due to a traumatic brain injury and prostate cancer. Both those dances with death were successful. However, it was several years before I realized the full extent of the positive changes in me. Others noticed, but I didn’t. I was having dinner with someone that I hadn’t met before. He asked me whether I had seen Randy Pausch’s the Last Lecture, which I hadn’t. He emailed a link to it. The length of the video is 1:16:17. Nevertheless, within the first couple of minutes, I suddenly realized the implication to me personally that I had danced with death. It changed my Weltanschauung.

“Now, I get it.”

After watching Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture, what did I want to do? I called Carnegie Mellon University, where he taught computer technology. I talked to a person in that department about waking up to reality. I wanted to email his wife and express my appreciation for what her husband had done for me. This person knew both Pausch and his wife and didn’t want to give me her email address. I realized that Pausch has helped millions of people like me and understood why my contact didn’t want to provide me with his wife’s email address. What was interesting to me was that simply telling a stranger about the Last Lecture’s impact on me was cathartic. At least, I told someone.

Therefore, this essay may be all I get from my dream about talking to my old friend. If this friend doesn’t call, I’ll accept it. Nevertheless, I will continue to dream and hope that she will call. Hey, she might call after she reads this essay. If she does, I will say that the person under the mask is a dreamer….