The man in blue caught my eye: a friendly cop plastered on a billboard, encouraging would-be policemen to train and apply for the sheriff’s office.
“Perfect!” I thought, planning to tell my sister Kara. Kara had always dreamed of becoming a woman in an investigative unit. She had her heart set on the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), but surely local police was a great way to start.
And then I remembered—Kara passed away in a drowning accident just a month before. She was 33 years old.
There is a plethora of awful things surrounding Kara’s death, including her darling 3-year-old who won’t get to have her mom in her life. But what hit me that day was the travesty of lost dreams—all because Kara was too scared or lethargic to try. Inertia, the state of staying put right where you are, is an easy, but dangerous, trap to fall into.
Kara had wanted to be a cop for over a decade, even going to school for criminal justice (for various reasons, she never graduated). She would watch the CSI-style shows and talk about being a part of a forensic team. She would dream of being the person who ran in and saved the day.
But never once did Kara fill out an application for the FBI or Coast Guard (being in Florida, the Coast Guard was prevalent). She took criminal justice classes at her university, but never tried to attend a police academy.
It was like she had convinced herself that the attempt would be too hard or that she would be rejected, before she even tried. I offered to help in any way I could, babysitting Sydney if she wanted to go back to school, or walking through an online application with her.
But she never took me up on those offers. There was always this idea of “someday”—”someday” I will finish my education, “someday” I will become a policewoman, “someday” I will do that job.
But for Kara, someday never came.
And it’s not just her—I’ve had friends who have lost loved ones in a tragic instant. A sister went out for a jog and got hit by a car. A dad dropped dead of a heart attack while playing basketball. A friend was in an accident caused by a drunk driver in the other car. None of those people expected to die that day. None of their family or friends expected that call.
Am I saying that we should all live in a constant state of fear because we could die at any moment? That life is hopeless and pessimism should rule the day? Absolutely not. I’m saying that life passes quickly, even for those who live until old age—you blink and you’ve missed it.
I read a bumper sticker the other day that said, “Don’t quit your daydream.” That’s the attitude I’m talking about. It’s easy to get sucked into the day-to-day routine of life and work and kids, and never push for something outside of our regular lives, whatever that is.
Dreams are a beautiful, God-given thing, but if you never act on what you want, what a loss it becomes. Even myself, when I think of how long it took me to apply to be a Grit and Grace writer—I kept thinking, “Well, wouldn’t that be nice.” I dreamt of sharing stories with this amazing audience, or seeing my name under the “This Grit and Grace Life” contributor list.
But it took way too long for me to sit down with my computer and actually hammer out my first story (3 Things That the Movies Got Wrong About Love) and fill out the whole application. My editor’s probably thinking that it still took too long to get my next few stories out!
I still dream of becoming a digital nomad, meeting my mate, and traveling abroad (Italy is next on my list)—not necessarily in that order! So, what is it that I can do now to make those dreams come true? I am starting a special savings account for travel. I am applying for more remote writing opportunities. And the mate—well, I’m still figuring that one out!
What about you, grit and grace girl? What dream are you harboring that life or fear has squeezed into a corner? Pull it out, dust it off, and act. Know that I am rooting for you—and I bet someone else in your life is, too!
Life is just too short for us to allow time to simply pass. You are beautiful, strong, and loved. Don’t quit your daydream.
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