Lesson Learned About Dreaming
I Learned from Bobby

Bobby Kennedy has influenced me more than any other of my mentors. During the 60s, he gave my generation a role model. I looked up to him while I was in college and graduate school as a teacher. That respect for him has continued and increased during my life.

However, a single statement that Bobby made, which was a paraphrase from something George Bernard Shaw wrote, has been a part of me for decades: “Some men see things as they are and say, why; I dream things that never were and say, why not.” In one sentence, he gave me a light, a beacon, on my journey through school and into my adult life. I have lived my entire adult life with the question to everything, why not?

Granted, dreaming an impossible dream, to quote Don Quixote, doesn’t assure my success. My failures are legion. While I have failed many times more than succeeding in obtaining my dreams, I would not have enjoyed living my life without my dreams. Anyone who knows me is fully aware that I have wanted to interview the Lady, Aung San Suu Kyi for a couple of decades.

I put off traveling to Burma, which is now called Myanmar, because she said that going to Burma wasn’t what she thought would help her cause or her people. When she decided to encourage foreigners, I began to write to anyone who might pass on my request to interview her. It was a time of intense dreaming. Bobby Kennedy would have been proud of me. Nonetheless, all my dreaming which involved two trips to Myanmar (Burma) was to no avail. My dreaming didn’t materialize into an interview. Granted, I knew that my dream was a longshot. I approached my dream knowing full well that merely dreaming wouldn’t achieve my desire. It would take effort and action on my part beyond merely dreaming. I get that reality and universal truth.

Bobby showed me and millions of others that dreaming will not always result in realization. I’m writing this essay while I am in Ngapali, Myanmar. After spending three weeks in Myanmar, I have a couple of days to get ready to return to the States. It gives me time to write while the waves break 50-yards from the restaurant of my hotel.

Interestingly, it is also a time to think about my dream of interviewing the Lady. With the only distraction being the sound of the surf, it is an excellent time to consider reevaluating that dream. I believe that my dream is valid, and I will continue to dream the seemingly impossible dream of sitting down with a Nobel laureate to discuss ideas with her.

The issue of dreaming is, in the final analysis, my modus operandi for me and my life. I am fully aware that all my dreams won’t come true. I realize most of my dreams haven’t come to fruition. Despite that universal truth, which applies to all of us, the value of dreaming is that it is a process of determining what one sees as important in his or her life. Dream the impossible dreams. Many of those dreams won’t be realized. However, some dreams will. Therefore, I will continue to dream. Without dreaming, you will live a very shallow life.

To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go

To right the unrightable wrong
To love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star

This is my quest
To follow that star
No matter how hopeless
No matter how far

To fight for the right
Without question or pause
To be willing to march into Hell
For a heavenly cause

And I know if I'll only be true
To this glorious quest
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm
When I'm laid to my rest

And the world will be better for this
That one man, scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
To reach the unreachable star

Essentially, it boils down to what Teddy Roosevelt said in the Man in the Arena. The following is one paragraph of the speech Teddy Roosevelt gave at the Sorbonne in Paris on April 23, 1910. The following is what historians call the Man in the Arena paragraph.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Having danced with death twice, I know that my clock is ticking. Someday, in the future, will be my last day. What haunts me is how will I be remembered. Ben Franklin wrote “Many people die at twenty-five and aren't buried until they are seventy-five.” That isn’t how I wish to be remembered.

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