To dream the impossible dream

  • Published
  • By Col. James T. Patterson
  • 932nd Medical Group, Air Force Reserve

When I was in college, I heard a motivational speaker talk about making a list of all the things we would like to do and accomplish in our life. He encouraged us to be bold; dare to dream big; name places we would like to go; list things we would love to experience. I don't know about others in the audience, but his message rang a chord with me. I went back to my room and I started writing things down. I came up with about 100 things I wanted to do, experience, or see. After I made that initial list, I would periodically come back and add some more; it became quite a list, some of which seemed pretty far-fetched. I studied that list and imagined what it would be like to accomplish all those things.

After several moves to different places, the list became buried in a box and was stored in the attic. Some years later, I was cleaning out some of the "junk" I had collected over the years and discovered my list. To my astonishment, I had actually accomplished almost 80 percent of my list; even the ones I initially thought were quite a reach. One of the things on my list was to meet and talk with John Wayne but he died before I got the chance, so I gave myself half credit for that one because it wasn't my fault. On the other side of that coin however, I had been able to meet other people that had been just as interesting to me that I hadn't placed on my list; people like Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Paul Harvey and others. I was amazed.

One of the things I had put on my list was that I wanted to be a Marine; however, I had allowed people I thought were older and wiser into talking me out of that dream. Over time, my presumed inability to achieve that vision became an "itch I couldn't scratch." One night I was sharing with some friends that I always regretted that I hadn't followed my dream to become a Marine. One of my friends suggested that maybe I could get into the reserves. I replied that I thought I was too old. He encouraged me and said, "You might want to look into the Air Force because they are looking for people with your experience quotient." Deep inside me, my spirit leaped. It was not the Marine Corps but how often does a person get a second shot at a dream?
I started making calls the very next day. As a result of an unexpected opportunity, I was commissioned as an officer in the Air Force Reserve on 30 January 1991; a dream come true and another item on my list that was fulfilled. Since that time, I have been places and done things I never expected. I have accomplished things I never thought possible. But the greatest part of this dream is that I have met some of the finest people I have every known in my life and have had the august privilege of leading and serving with incredibly magnificent people - YOU!

My parting words to each of you would be to dare mighty things; win glorious conflicts; dream the remarkable. Write them down and in so doing, give them existence in your mind and visualize their reality. Assure that your dreams are truly yours; not those given to you by someone else. They are your dreams and they are precious, so pursue them with passion and diligence. Guard them in your heart and never let anyone take them away from you. Never become discouraged because sincere pursuit of a dream - even if missed - will reward you with an even greater achievement. If you keep your dreams alive, they will one day appear before you and you will be as richly blessed as I have been.

All of you are one of my most cherished memories and I am truly honored to have been one of you. Take care and I will look forward to seeing you again as we journey down this wonderful path of life. Farewell and may God bless....