Dreams can grow any­where

The Covington News - - Opinion - Bar­bara Mor­gan Bar­bara Mor­gan is a Cov­ing­ton res­i­dent with a back­ground in news­pa­per jour­nal­ism, state govern­ment and pol­i­tics.

Did you set out when you were young with the sure be­lief that you were go­ing to change the world?

Did you be­lieve in your heart of hearts that you could make a dif­fer­ence in the world by the way you lived your life, by your choice of life’s work or by the pas­sion you di­rected to­ward good causes?

Did you ever say to your­self or to God that you were go­ing to leave the world a bet­ter place for your hav­ing been here?

These are lofty goals and am­bi­tions. Just how big did you dream?

Many peo­ple like my late fa­ther came into the world with­out two nick­els to rub to­gether, as the say­ing goes. His goal in life was to achieve the se­cu­rity that his own par­ents and sib­lings never felt, and, as a teenager, he was left to pro­vide for his mom, broth­ers and sis­ters af­ter his dad died young. He grew up fast, and any way he could make a buck, he did. He bought a truck and hauled fam­i­lies, coal, even pigs, what­ever needed to be moved. He worked at the Hub bus sta­tion and slept on the con­crete floor. He packed peaches for 25 cents an hour. He de­liv­ered bread and gro­ceries. He ran a pad press, work­ing for noth­ing un­til he learned the job, and then the hu­mid­i­fier at the Bibb plant in Por­terdale. He pi­o­neered the pulp­wood busi­ness in Newton County, and af­ter he bought and cleared land on the Al­covy River to raise a fam­ily, he grew and ginned the first bale of cot­ton in the county in 1956. It got news­pa­per cov­er­age and a $25 prize. In his long life, he would achieve far more than he ever thought pos­si­ble when he be­came the head of a house­hold at the age of 18. Then it was just sur­vival, but he was never with­out dreams to be more. He al­ways saw an­other hill to be climbed, and he was still dream­ing un­til six months be­fore he died at al­most 90.

When I lis­tened Wed­nes­day to the Uni­ver­sity of Ge­or­gia Metropoli­tan De­sign Stu­dio stu­dents from the Col­lege of En­vi­ron­men­tal De­sign who are liv­ing and work­ing in Cov­ing­ton this se­mes­ter, I got an­other glimpse of dreams as a mo­ti­vat­ing life force. These kids are pur­su­ing an ur­ban de­sign cur­ricu­lum with work planned on the In­dian Creek green­way at Pace Street and the Salem Town Cen­ter node en­vi­sioned in the 2050 Build-out Plan de­vel­oped by our Lead­er­ship Col­lab­o­ra­tive. Their chal­lenge Wed­nes­day was to cre­ate with words, pho­tos and graph­ics their life sto­ries that led them to this ma­jor and de­vel­oped their as­pi­ra­tions. It was clear to see how cir­cum­stances and up­bring­ing con­trib­uted might­ily to a “world view” that makes them pas­sion­ate about their choice of ed­u­ca­tion, their life’s work and the dreams that will en­able them to make a dif­fer­ence in the world.

Fac­tors that shaped them in­clude the places they’ve lived — sprawl­ing farms or in­dus­tri­al­ized cities; where they’ve trav­eled or stud­ied abroad — Spain, Switzer­land or the Far East; their par­ents’ liveli­hoods — farm­ers, builders or pro­fes­sion­als; and their up­bring­ing — con­ven­tional or free-wheel­ing. Some­thing in the cir­cum­stances of their lives led them to be­lieve they just might be able to change this world, one build­ing or one town at a time.

I needed a shot of their pas­sion and en­thu­si­asm and left the meet­ing heart­ened and hope­ful about the power of youth­ful dream­ing. Dreams to me, yes, but more like re­al­ity to them. They be­lieve with­out ques­tion in their dreams.

That same day, I raised a glass of wine to cel­e­brate a friend’s de­ci­sion to re­tire early from her ca­reer in ed­u­ca­tion. The time has come, she be­lieves, to make some new choices, to chart a dif­fer­ent path, to do some­thing dif­fer­ent — or not “do” at all. Re­tire­ment, it’s not an end­ing but rather a be­gin­ning. She’ll now be free to dream some new dreams that felt im­pos­si­ble in the course of a nine-to-five day. She’ll be chang­ing her life, for sure, and, who knows, maybe oth­ers’ lives still.

Dreams can grow any­where, it ap­pears: out of poverty and need, like my dad’s; from youth and ed­u­ca­tion, in the case of the UGA stu­dents; and as a re­sult of chang­ing course mid­stream, like my soon-to-be-re­tired friend.

Dreams don’t have to be big; even small dreams count. They can be as sim­ple as to dream of grow­ing a record-break­ing pump­kin or cook­ing an Ethiopian-in­spired menu when you know noth­ing of Ethiopia or re­build­ing a ’62 Corvette. Dreams of all sizes and forms drive and de­ter­mine lives, don’t they?

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