It’s odd to recognize a stranger from a story in the paper, but I was sure I did. Thanks to a set of convoluted circumstances, he was giving me a lift to work. Somewhere along the 55km trip, I knew I had to find the courage to ask.
He was ruggedly handsome, an outdoorsy family man who couldn’t have been older than 45. He was just telling me how disappointed he was to discover that it would be cheaper in the long run to bring in electricity from the power company, rather than continue to develop his own system off the grid. “You live the same way, you know what I mean. There’s a certain pride to living off the grid!”
I nodded in agreement. The time had come to confirm my suspicions. “So, were you one of the big winners?” I asked. As I remembered, 25 had shared in the recent lottery jackpot. That would have made each one just over $900, 000 richer overnight.
His smile was easy in reply. “Yep. That’s where the money’s coming from.”
As we continued down the highway, we talked of travels and dreams. He shared a story about a friend, a young helicopter pilot and technician with a touch of envy. “He doesn’t even apply for jobs, really… just sends his resume and starts packing. Everyone wants him all over the arctic. What a life!”
What a life, indeed! I’ve wanted to get my pilot’s license as far back as I can remember. As my companion described his friend’s world, I imagined myself in his shoes, tasted the freedom. If only…
“Is that what you want to do, too?” I asked.
That’s when he painted me a picture of his own dream. He wanted to be a wilderness guide at some fly-in lodge in Yukon or Alaska. He’d obviously given it a great deal of thought, had it all figured out. His wife is a chef who shares his vision, so they’d both have work. I listened with interest as he described every detail. They could pack up the kids, take them to a new life…
“So what’s stopping you?”
“Oh, I’m too old now. That’s something you do when you’re young,” he shrugged, “But it’s nice to dream.”
I was amazed. This apparently active, robust man within a decade of my age had a dream and a family that shared it. Now he also had the fabled million dollars, but he was too old to follow through.
As I arrived at work and thanked him for the ride, my mind was scrambling to answer a new question:
If the wall between you and your dreams suddenly vanished, would you race forward, or would you find a new excuse?