Dreams Delayed…and Denied

Dan Gosling with productWhat happens when dreams are deferred, delayed or simply never come true?

Dreams are just that – dreams. They are ethereal, wispy and hard to grasp. Ironically, dreams of the nocturnal variety seem so real. When we are free of the bondage of reality, anything can happen in our nighttime dreams. In our supposedly awakened daytime state, they have a wholly different quality and sometimes seem unobtainable. Think of how we use the word.

”dream home”
“dream vacation”
”dream job”
“only in my dreams”
“woman/man of my dreams”

The list is endless. Do dreams excite you or do they depress you because the very word is a synonym for “not gonna happen?” Dreams are often the spark of creation but to will them into reality takes effort, planning, faith, hope, grit, and yes, good old blood, sweat, and tears, often in that order.

And, then, sometimes they still don’t happen or they take a lot longer and much more effort than we ever “dreamed” they would. So why do some dreams take so long or, in many cases, never happen, despite someone’s best effort? I believe two things can be at play. One – God/Universe is trying to protect you from something and has something better in store, if you are but open to it and are patient. Or, two, the dreamer started “doing” and got tired of all the doing and not seeing any results. You might call it “dream fatigue.”

In my professional life, I have experienced both dreams deferred and dreams denied. I once had a “dream job” for three years only to have it taken away from me. There was nothing evil or nefarious about the way it came about. Simply put, I was a “substitute” member of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra for three seasons as one of their trumpet players. When the long-delayed “official” audition for the job was held, I was beaten fair and square by a young, up and coming musician. (In fact, he was so “up and coming,” he has since “come and gone” as is now the Principal Trumpet of the Los Angeles Philharmonic!) As I swallowed that bitter pill, I tried to convince myself things would be “OK” and I knew that was true on some level, but just being “OK” was a depressing proposition at the time.

It was after that extreme disappointment that a new dream took hold. It was a dream so outlandish, so completely out of my area of expertise and yet so perfect for me, that I had to chase it. Soon after that audition, one of my old students told me how he treated a lip injury from a marching band accident with an herb called Arnica. A random conversation changed my life forever. I was so taken by his story that I set out to create the best lip balm ever made, using arnica as one of the main ingredients. And that dream has pushed, prodded and poked me mercilessly for over a decade now. And yes, my “dream” has taken just too damn long at times. But after chasing my new dream for so long and considering giving up on an almost daily basis, a major breakthrough has occurred, one that could only come true with more grit, hustle, prayer, determination and hard work than I could have ever imagined necessary before I started out. In just a few short weeks from now, ChopSaver Lip Care, after many years of limited, niche distribution, will be sold in every CVS drug store in the country – over 7,000 stores. I know this adventure will take on new twists and turns, but this is a major leap, indeed.

At times my dream seemed to have turned into a nightmare and my “dark nights of the soul” were too numerous to remember. But there is a reason we grab onto clichés at times like that. For it truly was one of those “When God closes a door, he opens a window” moments. Actually, I have a different version of that one. Mine says, “When God closes a door, stop staring at the door because there may be a whole new world behind you…and not just a tiny window.”

So when a dream is long in coming or otherwise denied completely, you might want to choose another dream – or let it choose you.

Dan Gosling – professional trumpet player. Also known as The ChopSaver Guy.

From the archives: Frank Basile “Achieving What I Imagined”

It’s not an overstatement to say that imagination changed my life. Over time, I became  convinced that if I could imagine it, believe it, think it, want it, I could achieve it. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “That which dominates our imaginations and our thoughts will determine our lives and our character.”

While growing up poor in New Orleans, I would imagine having money to do all the things my five sisters and I couldn’t, like attending arts and cultural events—though I had only a vague idea of what those were. Being poor wasn’t the only issue—art and culture simply were not on our radar.

Since we took no family trips or vacations with the exception of visiting nearby relatives, I imagined traveling to far off lands like New York and China.

Virtually tongue-tied when called upon to speak in class, I imagined speaking in front of an audience and actually being applauded. As a boy, it was my job to watch my dad’s fruit stand. Since there weren’t a lot of customers, I relied on my imagination for entertainment. Little did I know that these daydreams, as my mother called them, would take seed. Through the years, I gradually accomplished or became much of what I had imagined, experiencing many ups and downs along the way.

I enjoyed the challenges that came with having to make things happen for myself, and the resulting self-confidence and feeling of accomplishment. I believe meeting these challenges helped in my personal growth. Those who don’t have to fend for themselves frequently miss out on the struggle and the thrill of overcoming.

I vividly recall being told by the principal of the Catholic high school I attended that my tuition was overdue, then learning from my sobbing mother that my dad had gambled away the tuition money she had given him to take to the school on his way to the market.

There was not time to brood. I drove our old pickup truck to the farmers’ market near the French Quarter, got a load of watermelons from a farmer on consignment and sold every one of them by the side of the road at my uncle’s farm just outside of New Orleans. I had earned my own way and was able to pay the tuition the next day. That was not only a thrilling accomplishment, but the beginning of the realization that I was the master of my fate.

Imagination is important to success, but it’s only the beginning. Realizing one’s dreams requires focus, determination, and drive, with a little help from others along the way—like the Christian brother at De La Salle High School who saw how frightened and incapacitated I became when it was my turn to speak or read in class. He convinced me that the only way to overcome something I feared was to do it. He cajoled me into joining the debate team. That was a defining moment in my life, without which I would never have become a professional speaker or succeeded in other areas in which the ability to communicate is important.

Although I imagined having money, I recall that it was not for the sake of being rich or to own a big house, like those in the Garden District of my hometown, or to drive an expensive car. I wanted to be able to live comfortably and enjoy experiences like travel while having enough left over to help other people.

My wife, Katrina, and I are happy living in a modest condo, driving a 2001 car, wearing  bildeoff-the-rack clothes and dining at moderately priced restaurants, with our one extravagance being travel. But our greatest joy comes from philanthropy, especially being able to give a boost to talented individuals to help them achieve their own dreams. Gloria Steinem said, “It’s more rewarding to watch money change the world than to watch it accumulate.”

My early experience growing up with my imagination keeping me company also helped shape my life-long personal mission, which is to help others grow and reach their potential. For about 30 years, I tried to do this through writing books and articles and giving speeches and seminars, most of which were motivational in nature. Most recently, I’m trying to do this through philanthropy and volunteer work with nonprofit organizations.

But it all started with an over-active imagination while minding the fruit stand.


Frank Basile is a professional speaker, author, philanthropist, community volunteer, and retired business executive.