Embrace today's big dreams, and the ones to come
It’s not often someone asks for my advice. Especially someone half my age. I wanted to help her. But I didn’t dare risk saying anything that might cause her to make a serious mistake.
In my experience, asking for directions can either get you where you want to go or send you down a dead-end road.
But asking for advice doesn’t always mean someone wants to be told what to do. Sometimes they just want you to listen and let them untangle all the chaos in their head and their heart.
“Tell me about it,” I said.
She smiled and stared off into space, as if seeing something that made her happy.
“All my life,” she said, “I have wanted to own my own business. I’ve always worked hard for others. I won’t be young forever. I’d like to work hard for myself, while I can.”
For several years, she has stood at the counter of a small business, selling ice cream and other snacks. She loves talking with customers, especially the children. She’s good at the job and likes to believe that what she does makes people happy.
Her boss comes into the shop to help at times, but he has other businesses to oversee and mostly lets her run the place alone. He’s a good man, she said, trustworthy and fair.
Finally, she took a deep breath and cut to the chase: “He’s offering to make me a partner!”
The deal sounded simple. She would pay her boss a sum of money. It would take all of what she’s been saving for years, but she thinks it would be worth it.
In return, she said, she would be co-owner of the business. They had discussed all the details, and if she agreed, they would put it all in writing. She would still run the counter, but take her share of the income.
Best of all, she said, she hoped that in time she could earn back her investment and save enough money so that someday, when her boss retires, she could buy his half of the place and make her lifelong dream come true.
When she said that, her face lit up like a child’s at Christmas, and her eyes filled with tears.
I wish you could’ve seen her.
I smiled, too, and gave her a hug. Then, for a moment, my mind filled with memories of my own dreams that came true.
My dream of going to college came true with a scholarship.
Then I dreamed of seeing California, and my aunt and uncle, who lived near San Francisco, invited me to visit. So I flew out to spend a week, stayed with them for a year and married my uncle’s friend.
I dreamed of being a mother, though I didn’t know a lot about how to care for a child. Then I had three children – the children of my dreams – who would teach me more than I wanted to know.
Some dreams come true even if we don’t know we’re dreaming them. I never dreamed I’d get to work as a writer. But I got hired by a newspaper, though I had no experience, and ended up with a “dream job” writing a column.
For a while, after my husband died, I couldn’t bring myself to dream of a life without him. But I had family and friends and readers who dreamed it for me.
Soon, even though I grieved for my husband, I began moving forward with my life. In time, I married a man who makes me watch sunsets and does my laundry. Then I dreamed of being a nana. And in 10 years, we had nine grandchildren. Talk about a dream come true.
I didn’t tell my young friend what she should do. Instead, I listened and asked questions. It’s often better to let someone pour out their heart, than to put your own words in their mouth.
I told her I believe in her and want her to believe in herself. It’s her decision to make. And she will make the right choice.
Meanwhile, I’m praying her dream will come true, if not now, then some day soon.
I’ll be dreaming it with her.
Sharon Randall is the author of “The World and Then Some.” She can be reached at P.O. Box 922, Carmel Valley, CA 93924, or www.sharonrandall.com.