Never Letting Go
A couple weeks ago, I found myself wandering through an old bookstore in downtown Pittsburgh — a rare moment of respite in a whirlwind life with three young boys who fill both our hearts as well as our coffee pots as they tumble from room to room through our home within a forest. As a birthday gift, the boys’ grandmother generously agreed to watch all three of our children so her daughter and I could enjoy a much needed day to ourselves. As much as we love our children, we do cherish the rare moments when we can walk hand in hand just the two of us exploring a new city, or in this case, reacquainting ourselves with an old friend.
Nearly eight years ago, we were a couple of mid-20 somethings madly in love as we stood at the altar of St. Paul’s Cathedral in the center of Steel City. Surrounded by our closest friends and family, we made our solemn vows to devote our lives to one another before we danced the night away between the grand marble columns of the Carnegie Museum of Art.
That day — that moment — seems like ages ago. A memory that rests on the mantle above my fireplace besides the other great moments of my life. I look back at our younger selves not with envy, but simply appreciation — a tip of the hat to the two college sweethearts who had the foresight to make the sacred commitment to bind our lives together but simultaneously had no idea how truly wonderful that decision would be. Everyday I wake up and acknowledge how lucky I am to have my partner by my side. From the moment we went on our first blind date as sophomores at Dickinson College and she dragged me out onto the dance floor, she has been molding me into a better man (albeit my dance skills have yet to improve).
So as I meandered through the towers of books with the love of my life by my side as we both bathed in this blissful quiet without the incessant questions from our curious children, I was able to take a moment and truly recognize how far we have come since that fateful day.
At twenty-six, fresh out of law school, three weeks into a new career as an M&A attorney at a large law firm and an entrepreneurial bug that needed to be scratched, I had some big plans for the years ahead. As I trained as a lawyer and learned the ins and outs of how a business operates, I would be designing and building a company of my own — a company that would bring together a group of people who wanted something more— who would selflessly commit their lives to a cause greater than themselves in the pursuit of making this world a better place during the short time we had the privilege to call this place our home.
Well, despite my countless attempts to scale my personal mountain; despite hundreds of pages of business plans and an embarrassing number of domain names and website designs, each one of my ideas would ultimately end, not with a crash, but with a whimper, as my time and energy were reallocated away from this dream toward billable hours.
The ashes of that failed dream still burn inside of me. I know I will never stop trying to scale that mountain, but, there will always be the what if in the back of my mind. What if I hadn’t taken that offer at a large law firm to be an M&A attorney? What if I had struck out on my own and pursued one of my ideas and pitted myself against the world to see if I would sink or swim? What if I had what it took to start something that would bring about lasting change to this world — an idea, a movement, even just a small group of people who come together and spend their lives trying to add a little joy, a little hope in a world that at times feels engulfed in so much pain?
I wonder. Did I play my hand too conservatively? Did I miss my chance to do what I was called to do? Did I let go of my dream too early?
Just as the doubt begins to fester into a cloud of regret and angst, I feel the tips of her finger rub against the back of my hand; I see her stop in the section on faith because she knows even without me saying a word that this is my section in the store; and I see her picking up books on Christianity, faith and religion — a world she is not yet at home, but a world she is striving to seek because she knows how important my faith is to me; I see the faces of my wild and loving boys cover the background of my phone — lives that we literally created together; lives that have now become our lives as we strive tirelessly to mold and shape them into a good, honest, and kind human beings, and they in turn fill our daily dose of life with an endless supply of love, joy and laughter.
Did I let go of my dream?
No, I may not be the next great entrepreneur; I may never start a company that changes the world for the better; but I am, without a shadow of a doubt, pursuing my dream every day.
I just figured out how to never let go of her hand.