My name is Jack and most of you know me as the insouciant dad blogger who teaches his children to live their dreams and not dream their lives. That is not rhetoric or hype, it is what I believe and what I want for them.
Part of it is because I am their father and my job is to help them grow up to become menschen, to be responsible, productive members of society. The other part is because I sometimes wonder if I am responsible for putting a bullet in my own dreams.
I don’t carry many regrets with me but those few that hang around are massive beasts that swim in the darkest depths occasionally surfacing with the goal of making me question and doubt myself.
The Butt Of The Joke
I spent the Summer of 1985 in Israel and it changed my life. I remember watching Live Aid in a pub in Jerusalem, a beer in my hand, friends to the right of me and my girlfriend on my lap.
I was 16 years-old and my parents were 10,000 miles away but I knew I had found a second home and that the benefits of being far away weren’t the only reasons why I felt so comfortable.
Certainly some of it had to do with feeling of alienation so many teenagers have. I wasn’t on the outside looking in, I was a part of something that wanted and needed me as much as I needed it.
So I decided that I was going to try to spend my freshman year of college in Israel. It sounded like a very grown up thing to do, a reasonable and rational way to try to turn a dream into a reality.
I worked hard and was admitted to a special program at a university and made plans to go, but at the last minute had to pull out because the finances weren’t there.
It was hard and it was painful, made all the more so when I found out I became one of the group jokes. My name was on all of the literature, but I wasn’t there.
Things Change and We Adapt
Several years later I have another shot to go. This time it is for my junior year abroad and I am more determined than ever.
It all looks good, but I have a serious girlfriend who is a few years younger than I am. She asks me not to go, says she wants to go with me and wonders if I will wait.
I am an idiot and I say yes.
She’ll break up with me months after the deadline has passed and going has become an option that only exists if I drop out of school.
That is when I know a put a bullet in that dream and pushed it down where it wouldn’t bother me.
It is also when I start my push to become a professional sportswriter. I love writing and I am part of the college newspaper so it seems to me like I have an opportunity.
A Narrow Window
Things at the newspaper move along nicely and I move from staff writer to editor and eventually become the Editor-In-Chief.
It is a great feeling and I am convinced I am on the right track, except I didn’t become a sportswriter. Won’t bore you with the who, what, where, when,why and how of it–it didn’t happen and I wonder if I am responsible for that.
I wonder if I am not accountable for putting a bullet in that dream. I wonder if maybe I didn’t want it badly enough or if maybe I was afraid to really try.
It is hard to say for certain, but I take some responsibility for it because I have to.
Israel- The Third Time Is The Trick
Several years after graduation I go back to Israel for a business trip and then hang out afterwards for pleasure. Now I am truly a grown up, or so I think of my 25 year-old self.
That feeling I had before is still there and I know I have to do something about it. So I make arrangements to live with a friend in Jerusalem.
He has a couch I’ll sleep on and knows a guy who needs someone to work at his bar. It is not perfect but I figure it will be enough to get me on my feet.
A couple of weeks later I fly home to pack up my apartment and finalize the details of a big move. I tell my girlfriend about my plan and she says she’d move with me.
Two weeks after that we get engaged and 13 months later we are married.
We did go back to Israel together but not to live, graduate school and children came along and plans changed.
That Was Then and This Is Now
December 2004 changed my life but I didn’t recognize it at the time. It was when I wrote two posts that showed me the power of blogging and helped me engage in some course correction.
Those posts came about six months into my blogging career and are among the few from that time that don’t make me cringe when I read them now.
What I didn’t know was how they and blogging would help me understand the difference between what I want and what I need.
Blogging also helped me realize that I am not old now, maybe older, but not too old to run down the dreams I had or to accept that sometimes dreams change and that is ok.