Quote of the Day:
Then move the trees, the copses nod,
Wings flutter, voices hover clear:
“O just and faithful knight of God!
Ride on! the prize is near.”
So pass I hostel, hall, and grange;
By bridge and ford, by park and pale,
All-arm’d I ride, whate’er betide,
Until I find the holy Grail.
–“Sir Galahad”, Alfred, Lord Tennyson
TB, as any resident of the Travellinbaen Universe knows, harbors the open, not uncommon, secret longing to someday make a buck at this writing thing. It’s the quixotic corner of my life devoted to the pursuit of greatness. I’ve been afflicted with this goal all my life. It’s just lately been something I’ve given conscious thought to though.
For a couple of weeks, friend of the TBU MDM has been posting historical information on Pascagoula baseball. Many readers know that MDM achieved “greatness” as a centerfielder, not only in high school but in college too, though he always saves his praise for others. Like many ‘Goula boys, there were years when my target for achieving greatness was to follow in MDM’s footsteps. I was obsessed with the game throughout my older childhood and adolescence. Obsession be damned, greatness on the diamond eluded me.
But the dream of greatness and the fanciful schemes for achieving it predated even those years. I vividly recall as a kindergartner daydreams of escaping the drudgery of school by saving everyone from a fire or a Russian invasion or maybe an evil wizard. I would climb to the air ducts that lined the corner of the ceiling and crawl along them, making my way to safety, bringing with me only the cute redhead I’d never talked to, until I could go for help and return in glory to save everyone else. In first grade I seized on the small hole in the plaster behind my desk and spent the entire “quiet game” each day imagining the pirate treasure hidden within that I would find and that would allow me to escape the prison that was “all day” school. The influence of knights and soldiers and pirates and princes in the books I knew undoubtedly served as inspiration. I still gravitate to tales of adventure, even if I only blog about the occasional high-minded tomes of my personal bibliography. Thanks to the miracle of Kindle and the availability of free public domain classics I’ve been devouring the tales of King Arthur and his Round Table this last week and thinking about heroes, champions and greatness much as I did long ago.
Nowadays I spend my idle time thinking of the latest idea for a novel, or a memoir, maybe even a screenplay. I know there are millions out there with the same dream. I know the odds of becoming published by any entity not lorded over by myself are enormous. I know that I have good days and bad and that the good days are not yet good enough. But I’m gradually learning my strengths and weaknesses, above all my limitations. And I’m convinced that greatness as I define it, to be a published writer, is possible even if its unlikely. I can see it through the fog, I feel like I can almost grasp it sometimes, but I am afraid any sudden movement on my part may cause it to disappear. So I carefully move forward, searching for the right voice, the right subject, the right vehicle…searching, when there’s time.
I think it is a good thing to harbor delusions of grandeur, so long as they are kept in proper perspective. For years in my life, the goal of greatness lay dormant. From the day I started college through seven years of quasi-education through a decade of decadence as a single professional man with a little jingle in my pocket, I thought little of achievements beyond outdrinking my ARB’s (which I largely accomplished) or charming the little red head across the bar (also blondes and brunettes–which I only occasionally accomplished). One of the benefits of settling down as a family man has been that the innate desire for a measure of immortality regained purchase on the slippery ledges of my mind where before all of my faculties had been devoted to more base and immediate pursuits. The quest for greatness doesn’t take priority in my life, far from it. But its nice to have a dream, especially one immune to destruction by rotator cuff, poor eyesight, or the evil magic of a damsel in the wood.
I’d love to have comments on this thread, like all my posts, but do me a favor–refrain from either encouraging me or dashing my dreams, that’s not the point and I hesitate to even publish this essay for fear that it looks like I’m fishing for compliments. Your residency here is encouragement enough, in fact, for better or worse, its your continued presence more than anything that challenges me and keeps me going. I’m more interested in if anyone else harbors these type dreams, whether focused on the family, career, arts, music, athletics or whatever or if you once did and got over it. Or some other angle, just don’t embarrass me with either kindness or cruelty, just on this post.