What if…

When I was a little girl, I dreamed of being a writer. I wrote poems and stories, but I was always too embarrassed and afraid of the vulnerability to share them with the world. I studied social work in college. I wanted to help people.

But that writing bug was still there, biting at the back of my mind. Even when I went back to school and earned a master’s in journalism, I still didn’t fully immerse myself in writing. I held writing and editing jobs, but I didn’t dive headlong into my own creative writing.

It just felt so scary to truly chase my dream.

How many people do you know who are doing as an adult what they dreamed of as a child?

I know only a few. I’m married to one of them…

For as long as he can remember, my husband has been obsessed with fire. He loves everything about it – the smell, the heat, the power, the danger and unpredictability. All he ever wanted to do was fight fire. So that’s what he did.

For nearly 20 years now, my husband has been a wildland firefighter.

I’ve watched him pursue his passion these 12 years we’ve been together with a mixture of envy and admiration.

How did he have the courage to just jump into it? How did he resist all the voices of dissent? It’s too dangerous. It’s not a long-term career. It’s not practical, or responsible.

When you’re a child, anything seems possible.

Then we grow up, and so many of us dismiss our passions, gifts, and talents as nothing more than childish daydreams. I know that’s what I did.

But slowly, over the years I’ve spent with my husband, watching him live his dream, I began to wonder, what if…

What if I reconnected with that little girl inside my head?

What if I let myself dream again?

What if I made a list of everything I always wanted?

What if I worked hard, applied all the grown-up knowledge I’ve gained along the way, and started checking things off that list?

What if I stopped wondering if I’d fail, and just took the risk?

What if I don’t take the risk until it’s too late to try?

There I was, barreling through life, counting birthdays, getting further and further from that little girl and her dreams.

I began to wonder, if not now, when?

I asked my husband how he did it. He shrugged and said, “I just did it.”

He took a step, then another, and another, always in the direction of his dreams.

So, a few years ago, I sat down with my little girl self, and made a list.

I applied my grown-up knowledge to that list.

I took a step, then another, and another.

As one goal is met, I check it off the list.

The list keeps growing. I keep growing.

I fail, a lot. But sometimes I don’t. Sometimes, I succeed.

And even in failure, I know I’m doing what I love, living the dream, one step at a time.

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