Monday, July 25, 2011

Dream Keepers

"Well, my feet they finally took root in the earth, but I got me a nice little place in the stars." -Bruce Springsteen, Growin' Up

I've been on a pretty big Springsteen kick lately, spurred on by the death of Clarence Clemons last month. A few days ago, I was listening to one of his live albums on my iPod as I ran on the treadmill. "Growin' Up" came on. Certainly an appropriately titled song for this blog.

In the middle of this particular performance from 1975, Bruce points out that his parents and sister are in the audience. He jokes that they've been following him around to his gigs for six years, trying to convince him to come home. He then tells a story of how neither of his parents supported his music when he was "growing up." His dad urged him to be a lawyer. His mom tried to convice him to be an author (turns out, he IS an author if you ask me).

As he concludes his story, he tells his parents, "...well tonight you're just going to have to settle for rock and roll." And the crowd goes wild and the band rocks the rest of the song.

(You can listen to the song I'm talking about by clicking the video below. The recording is a little crude, but you can definitely hear the part I'm referring to. It starts about 2:30 in.)

This got me thinking... can you imagine if Mr. and Mrs. Springsteen had succeeded in getting Bruce NOT to pursue his passion? To NOT go into music? I can't. It's mind boggling. It actually makes my brain hurt to think about a world without his music. Impossible.

Now with all due respect to the Springsteens, I'm sure they're lovely people who were certainly raising what can only be described as a rebellious son in a different time, but I plan on doing the opposite as a parent.
We are the keeper of our children's dreams. Sure, they can achieve them without us. But it's a lot easier for them, physically and emotionally, to do it with us. How powerful, how wonderful, how inspiring would it feel if they achieve them with us right behind them, every step of the way?

The setbacks, the failures, the mistakes, the rejections, the inevitable triumphs.

A few years ago, I attended Commencement ceremonies at the college where my wife works because she had planned them. Whoopi Goldberg was the guest speaker. She made it a point to thank the parents because, to paraphrase her, these kids were pursuing their passion and a lot of them are in for a lifetime of rejection and misery. They were not entering a slam-dunk money making career. Drama and dance and art students. But they all had one thing in common: they all had parents who supported them. Despite the cost. Despite what many might consider their outrageously unrealistic dream.

They were applauded.

They deserved it. We hold the dreams of our children in our hands. It's up to us to nurture those dreams, not squash them. No matter how fantastic they are.

Whatever the peanut wants to do, however wild her dreams may be, as long as it doesn't hurt her, I am there for her.

Knowing my strong-willed child, she'd probably pursue it anyway. But I'd much rather be thanked when she makes it, than mocked in front of a live audience.

 As much as I like Springsteen, I realized when Clarence Clemons died that I always thought he was much cooler. Click here to read why.

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