Moments to Memories

“It was all very impressive and was over in what seemed like seconds”

-Quote from Single Harness

By: Gary DeBoard

I once heard a story of an ambitious young man whose dream was to build a company that produced world class children’s entertainment complete with characters and original story lines much like Walt Disney World. In fact, this man’s model in life and business was Walt Disney himself. It was audacious and quite frankly absurd, as most dreams are. But besides an obvious talent for his craft, this man had that “something” that few men do. As fanciful and generic as the dream sounded, he had a chance. A chance to make it big. And not just big, but massive.

It started as many of these stories do- one guy with a dream in some small room in the middle of relatively nowhere with no money. But the passion for the dream was contagious and before long there were multiple people working toward this dream. For awhile it was difficult. There were victories and defeats, and the defeats were resounding and large. But after a time, the victories became a little bigger than the defeats. And then, inextricably, it happened. The preverbal fly wheel started to turn. Momentum was on his side and the defeats were no where to be found. He amassed wealth, power, influence, notoriety, and success. His dream was no longer fanciful fiction but an intriguing story of an ambitious man that looked oddly like Walt Disney in his younger years.

But as the convincing ocean wave builds mightily only to mysteriously duck under the water to never be seen again, so the dream that once seemed so promising and even successful was gone. Bad business and shady partners were its doom.  In his commentary on the aftermath of his now failed dream, years removed, you could still hear the longing for what was in his words and voice. Though broken hearted he still remembered fondly the groundswell of success. He marveled at how impressive it all was, for a time, and remarked how quickly it seemed to end.

Whether we’ll accept it or not, in hindsight this is always how life works. Have you ever heard an older person remark how slow their life seemed to move when they reminisce? Or have you ever heard the empty nest parent, in their most serious moment, wish they had less time with their kids? As hard as we try, we can’t slow it down. And we do try, though foolish as it is. Why is it that we struggle so much to accept finality? Why is it that we cannot be content with what was, even as fleeting as it was. Why must we always grasp for more when what we had was almost always enough? These questions move us to the heart of our insecurities and true selves. Yet the answers are not absent or non-existent. They are there to be found, but they must be sought out. Until we figure out those answers, let us be mindful of the moment and the phase of life in which we find ourselves. Because in what will seem like seconds, those impressive moments will be but a memory.

All Ripples Travel

“It was a good game that may even have served a purpose.”

-Quote from, “Single Harness”

You never know in life the things that will make a difference. You never know how one thing will affect another and then another even still. The most minute detail or experience could likely have a profound impact on one’s ability to be a person they never would have been had it not been for that seemingly insignificant moment.

We see these moments and experiences scattered through history in the lives of those who have accomplished the most astounding things. One of those such lives was Walt Disney. This man behind the mouse grew up in the very American town of Marceline, Missouri, with the very American job of a paper route. And it was in these moments of the hardest kind of work, in the coldest kind of winters that Walt Disney learned the value and necessity of hard work regardless of the circumstances. This would be a value and a trait that would later loom large in his relentless pursuit of the most iconic company in the history of the modern age.

Then there was the late Silicon Valley founder, Steve Jobs. In his initial moment of profound insight, his father would come home and teach him how to take apart and put together radios and TV’s. These quintessential moments would later lead him to not just influence culture, but create it. The touchscreen wonder in your pocket and the tablet you are likely reading this on right now are all a direct result of a seemingly insignificant moment in a garage 50 years ago.

There was also the great communicator, Ronald Reagan. Fresh out of college, Reagan decided to interview for a radio broadcast job at a university in Iowa. Little did he know, this was the first domino out of many that would fall to lead him to places no one ever thought he would go- all the way to the presidency of the United States. And not just any president, but one of the most significant and important in our nation’s history. Yet it was the insignificant radio job that would, among many other things, provide him the experience and opportunity to ultimately possess the most important job in the world.

These people and their stories are worth remembering if for no other reason than they remind us that the big things in life don’t “just happen”. Instead, the big things require the little things. And it’s the little things that in hindsight, are the most mysterious of all. What if Walt never had the paper route? What if Jobs rode his bike instead of being in the garage? What if Reagan never took the job? Of course we can’t know the answers to those questions and for the sake of our psyche it’s probably best we don’t even ask. But it’s slightly comforting knowing that maybe, just maybe that fairly insignificant thing you’ll do tomorrow might just serve a purpose.