Shortly before our father passed away, my sister Kimberly asked him a question that we all assumed we knew the answer to.
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She asked, “Dad? Was it always your dream to play in the NFL?”
In his weakened state, he slowly turned his face toward hers and as a smile slowly crept across his face, he answered in a low raspy whisper, “No… It was Terry who had that dream. I just caught it.”
Dad could tell that Kimberly was caught off guard by his response so he continued, “You see, dreams are contagious. You have to live your life having many dreams…and following each one of them no matter how they come to you.”
The “Terry” in his reply to her question was his very best friend during those pivotal teenage high school and college years. Terry’s life dream was to become the greatest quarterback of all time.
This kid’s last name? Bradshaw.
Yes, Terry Bradshaw — arguably the greatest NFL quarterback in the history of the sport. Although, if you asked Dad, there was no argument at all. Terry WAS the very best quarterback who ever lived. He felt it was Terry’s destiny.
But before Terry could become the greatest quarterback of his generation, he needed a receiver who could help him hone his quarterbacking skills. Dad became exactly that. He became Terry’s best friend and favorite receiver until Terry went into the NFL. So…it was in that process that Dad “caught” this dream that was Terry’s all along.
Dad was new to Shreveport in that summer of 1961. He was a young 12-year-old baseball standout in the city of Alexandria until his family moved to Shreveport, where his Methodist preacher father was assigned to pastor a new church called Summer Grove Methodist Church.
It was while riding his bike around his new neighborhood that Dad met this tall, gangly, blonde-headed kid who would become among the most important people in his life.
Terry convinced Dad that football was “king” in Shreveport…not baseball… especially if Dad wanted the girls to notice him. (I giggle just imagining this conversation between two young 8th graders.)
These two young athletes would eventually break football records at Woodlawn High School, followed by more records broken in college at Louisiana Tech, eventually landing them both in the Louisiana Tech Hall of Fame.
I bet Dad could never have imagined how his life would be altered by this one friendship that began when they were both fresh-faced boys embarking on their teenage years back in that pivotal summer of 1961.
Have you ever thought of dreams as being contagious? I never had until Dad uttered those words to my sister.
So many of the happiest and most successful people are living their dream right now. Some knew their whole lives what they were meant to do and be in this world, while others simply caught another’s dream along the way, allowing it to captivate and take charge of their own spirit as well.
Dreams realized, no matter the route they took to get to you, are among life’s greatest joys. Bringing others along on that journey and helping them realize their own dreams in the process? That is one of life’s greatest privileges. It’s a gift of the heart.
When you look at dreams as being contagious or something you can catch from another, you begin to look at the people around you a little bit differently. You begin to hear things differently. When people speak about their own dreams, I pay better attention. When songs are written about dreams, the lyrics have more meaning to me now.
A few months ago, I saw the wildly popular movie, “The Greatest Showman.” This movie is based on the true story of P.T. Barnum and his “Grand Travelling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan & Hippodrome,” eventually becoming what we all grew up to know as the “Barnum & Bailey Circus.” This story is ALL about bringing dreams to life…and more importantly, bringing others along for that joyride.
At one point in the movie, the character who plays Jenny Lind, one of the most highly regarded singers of the 19th century, sings a beautifully written and powerfully performed song to an entire auditorium full of men and women, who are clearly captivated by her voice. The song’s title is “Never Enough” and at one point in the song, Jenny Lind sings these lyrics:
“You set off a dream in me.. it’s getting louder now Can you hear it echoing? Take my hand Will you share this with me?
‘cause darling without you….”
And the song continues to swell with great emotion, echoing the sentiments that fulfilling that dream without the one she loves would never be enough.
I will never forget the feeling that overwhelmed my spirit the first time I heard this song in the movie theater. The song was so powerful. The songstress’ voice was so beautiful. And as the lyrics of the song resonated the echoes of my father’s own words about shared dreams, I could sense my own spirit becoming completely overwhelmed.
In that moment, it dawned on me that what my father said wasn’t something new to this world. Clearly, the world already knew that dreams were meant to be caught, shared and fulfilled with those you love. Dad simply expressed it for the first time in a way that captured our attention.
I always believed, trusted and appreciated my father’s wisdom about life. But it wasn’t until eleven years later, in a darkened movie theater, that the truth of his sentiments regarding dreams fully resonated with my soul.
I finally got it. What my father was trying to say was that there are dreams all around us. Some dreams are chased, some caught and new ones constantly budding in the hearts of everyone around us. What a gift it is to us all to know that all we have to do is simply be present in the midst them all and patiently wait for our spirit to take hold of one.
Being an entrepreneur, Dad was able to see and help many dreams become a reality. Some dreams were his own, while others belonged to those he loved and cared about.
He once said of his very full and successful life, “I never could’ve imagined all of this back when football was my only dream. Some dreams are just quieter. They sneak right up on you and come true before you even realize they’re there. But they were there. They were in you, somewhere, all along, just waiting to become your greatest blessings.”
In this season that tends to be dedicated to romantic love, always remember that in order to fully and properly love others, you must fully and properly love yourself.
Yes. Love yourself enough to dream the big dreams. Open your heart to the possibilities of catching another’s.
Give your spirit permission to relish in the journey. And give God gratitude for all of it.
For all of it is designed to inspire your spirit and captivate your soul…. ultimately propelling you to your ultimate greatness.
And THAT is how you keep it real when living in a world full of dreams.