Greatness In The Mist

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.

About travellinbaen

I'm a 40 year old lawyer living in Ridgeland, Mississippi. I'm several years and a couple hundred miles removed from most of my old running buddies so I started the blog to provide an outlet for many of the observations and ideas that used to be the subjects of our late night/happy hour/halftime conversations and arguments.
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17 Responses to Greatness In The Mist

  1. TB, I just wrote about 3 paragraphs and then hit the delete button. I can relate to this post on many levels. I need to gather my thoughts — at a time when I’m not insomnia-addled — and come back.

  2. Jessie Lou says:

    Like TDW, I find this post pushes the reader towards introspection. The ability to corral all of these thoughts to one corner of the brain could take some time.

  3. calicobebeop says:

    I think dreams are important – they keep us motivated and inspired. I have similar aspirations and who knows if anything will come of them but I tell you what – gives me something to day dream about in that long line at the DMV, right?

  4. tinyd says:

    I believe our dreams are the most authentic thing about us. Especially the ones we’ve had since we were little. Occasionally our adult lives demand attention and our dreams get pushed to the back corner of our existence. There are even portions of my life where my dream was completely abandoned. Now, of course I realize that simply because of the physical limitations of an aging body it would be acceptable to forget about “the dream,” but my meager, self-indulgent attempts to keep some resemblance of it in my life balance the performance of adult responsibilities I put on daily. i.e. I did always want to be a parent; in fact, it was a dream and by far the most fulfilling thing I’ve ever done. But when will I feel confident that I’ve accomplished this dream? Just when I think I’m getting good at it, the little ones seem to change all the rules, and really, is being a mom ever something you can look back at and say – “check – that one’s done”? I don’t think my mother would say so even at this point…parenthood is more of a lifelong journey, not a dream. The time I spend practicing at my dream draws me out my reality and allows brief, periodic escapes back to the “me” before responsibilities.

  5. Fish says:

    Great thread TB…
    Most of us have probably given up on many dreams due to the natural progression of life. But you know maybe it is time to rethink where we are and adjust. Yes, maybe some of those childhood dreams are far gone but there may be something just as satisfying and obtainable around the corner. Thanks for taking me out of the daily routine for the moment and triggering the right side of my brain for a change!

  6. ZEEK says:

    Dude,if nothing else, I tip my hat to you for putting some action to your dream. I can’t seem to be willing to put the time in or have the gumption to put forth the effort to achieve the dream. So, do what you do, bro. If it makes you happy, and isn’t harming anyone, damn what anybody else thinks, ya know? Keep on truckin’. I enjoyed (for a moment) the post you had a while back where we took turns writing a team-effort novel. Unfortunately, immaturity and the lack of talent of a few, doomed that project. If you ever want to collaborate on something, just holla TB!~!!

  7. Samsmama says:

    I got a little sidetracked by the comments, as they were just SO GOOD! I definitely think this is something you should pursue. And at this point I’ll admit something. Sometimes when you have really long posts (this one bordered, but I felt it necessary to read) or they are political or whatnot, I sometimes can’t get myself to sit down and read it. However, if you were in novel form, I’d be all over it. I LOVE to read but find that with blogs I have short attention span theater. And I’ve made more than one exception for the TB, and that should really say something. Go for it!

    P.S. Surely you’ve noticed my posts are rather short? If I feel they’re getting long I’ll leave out vital stuff to keep it minimal. I try to keep my posts down to about the time it takes you to wrap up business in the bathroom. Meanwhile…this post is the longest thing I’ve typed in a week. FML.

  8. Jessie Lou says:

    My dayjob dream was to be a pharmacist – Caver’s Drug Store on Market Street was the first stop after my birth on the way home from the hospital. I loved hanging out there watching J. Ben count pills until he passed on. Then I went to Chemistry class in 11th grade and found out I lacked the skills mathematically to make that dream come true. Sometime in the last few years I found my high school apptitude test that suggested the medical field but also told me if all else failed I would be great with farm equipment – lovely. As it turned out, after Katrina I drove a tractor alot and was not half bad at it either!

    As for the writing dream – I’ve been a poet since I was in elementary school – some of it very dark and alot of it sarcastic. I still get random calls from people to write for different events – birthdays, christmas gifts, etc. I’ve also written other forms which can only be described as adult entertainment. I’ve helped spice up many a relationship so perhaps that makes me a counselor of sorts. Could I ever get paid to do this? Nah, just pocket change here and there and that is fine too.

    My fantasy dream would be to sing well and to have the gumption to get up in front of others and sing loudly without being nervous. IR has this ability – If I can’t do it at least I’ve passed the gene on to someone I love.

  9. I really appreciate these comments, these type posts are sort of hard to put out there. I think I must’ve been inspired by Harmony’s recent essay on death.

    SM–you are very kind, and correct. My posts are too long for a blog, but its what I do. I also agree with you on the politics. I hesitate to make the blog completely politics-free, but you will see less and less of it from me at least for the foreseeable future. And when I see a long post on someone else’s blog, I feel the same way you do. But don’t skip today’s long post, it’s pretty funny.

    Tiny D, what can I say but “well put.” Also, welcome to the TBU and please continue to add your two cents.

    Zeek and Fish, thanks. Y’all or anybody is welcome to a spot on the front page if you ever want to send me an essay–you don’t even have to use your real fake name if you don’t want to.

    Calico–truth and a zinger, nicely done.

    JLM, I knew you’d be willing to throw some self reflection out there. You are a fearless broad.

    TDW, keep reading these epistles. You’ll be sleeping soundly again in no time.

  10. Jessie Lou says:

    What I like about your posts/blog is that it is like having a conversation with you and with alot of other folks I may not see too often even though I live in the same area. You have talent my friend, something I always knew.

  11. Harmony says:

    When we are young our futures elude us, our dreams are limitless and greatness is within grasp. Time wears on and uncertainty sets in, but somehow dreams thrive and keep us moving whether we actively pursue them or not. They are the inner lining of who and why we are.

    I don’t know what my dreams are, as I have yet to nail them done and get a good look at them.

    I really enjoy when you reminisce about your youth and childhood’s quite the treat.

    Your dream? It appears to be within your reach, go for it!

  12. Harmony says:

    Oh and..I still think Jessie Lou could provide us with some GREAT reading material, if she would just start a blog already!

  13. Samsmama says:

    Amen to Jessie Lou having a blog!

  14. This






  15. sweet says:

    JLou is certainly a potential blogger. I’m just proud to have some of her unpublished works……For real though JLou, whether you know it or not, I learned some good things from you

  16. JLou does NOT need her own blog. She needs to make my blog better by becoming a contributor! (kidding, JLou would be a blogosphere star within days).

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