Wednesday 3 August 2011

Follow Your Dream

     Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor for lack of ideas.  Forty-five years after his death, he is still a household name.  Thomas Edison's teachers told him he was too dumb to learn anything.  Now he is credited for dozens of inventions, including the lightbulb.  An MGM testing director declared that Fred Astaire:  "Can't act.  Slightly bald.  Can dance a little."  Now he can be found in several movies.  Albert Einstein did not speak until he was four years old and did not read until the age of seven.  Later he coined the scientific "theory of relativity". 

     Canadian artist Ken Danby attended Ontario College of Art with my Uncle Greg. Some of his teachers said he would never make anything of himself; he even quit college early.  By the 1980's, however, he was a famous photorealist and owned a studio, selling his paintings all over the world ("Lacing the Skate"; "Leather Hat"). My uncle wished he had taken his sketches out of the garbage can when he had the chance. 
     Like Danby, Disney, Edison, Astaire and Einstein, Monty Roberts also had a dream.  He was the son of an itinerant horse trainer, and had moved around for much of his childhood.  His schooling was frequently interrupted and his marks suffered as a result.  In high school, one of his teachers assigned the class the task of writing an essay about their future.  Monty set to work composing a seven-page paper explaining how he would have a horse ranch complete with a diagram.  The 200 acre ranch would have stables and a track among other things.  He would also have a 4000 square foot dream home on the property. 

     After pouring his heart and soul into the exercice Monty was astounded to receive an F on his essay with a note saying "See me after class".  The teacher then explained that he thought his student's dream was far too unrealistic given that he was from a poor family with few if any resources.  He offered to re-mark the paper if Monty submitted a new one with a different plan.  After thinking about his teacher's offer for a week, Monty's reply was:  "You can keep the F and I'll keep my dream". 

     Then the adult-Monty turned to the group assembled and said "I tell you this story because you are sitting in my 4000-square-foot house in the middle of my 200-acre horse ranch.  I still have that school paper framed over the fireplace."  He added that a couple of years ago he had invited his former teacher to the ranch with 30 kids as his guests.  The teacher said to Monty that he used to be a "dream stealer" and that he had stolen many kids' dreams.  However, he was glad that Marty had the gumption to not give up on his dream. 

     Without dreamers we would have no Disney World, no inventions, no movies, no paintings.  Don't listen to the dream stealers.  It's never too late to follow your dream.  What are you waiting for?

(Excerpts taken from Chicken Soup for the Soul's "Consider This" & "Follow Your Dream")

Ken Danby's painting "Lacing Up" courtesy

Ken Danby's painting "Leather Hat" courtesy


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