The Bigger My World Gets, the Smaller My Dreams Become

By | March 23, 2017
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The Bigger My World Gets… the Smaller My Dreams Become

In the midst of a busy and tiring day like this one, it’s hard to imagine tranquility.

It’s hard to separate myself from all that swirls around me and imagine a simpler day, a simpler time, a simpler place. Someday these kinds of busy days will be far behind me and I’ll have only the vaguest memories of them. And when that someday comes, I’ll yearn for the time when my days were full and busy and the swirling retinue of having so many things to do would be a welcome and much appreciated reprise.

There’s a constant yearning within me – for what I used to be, for what I might have been, for what I still might be. My world has grown so big and complex and it is hard sometimes not to yearn for the small and uncomplicated world – the world I knew as a child.

When I was a child, my world was small and uncomplicated; my dreams were unfettered by the restrictions of what is possible and untainted by reality. The dreams of a child are pure. When I was a child, I had dreams of becoming a professional baseball player, a TV weatherman, a rock star, a movie star, a writer, a fireman who races to fires in a gleaming white fire truck, a lone sailor sailing a vast mysterious sea and discovering uncharted islands, an astronaut landing on a distant planet, and so many other things.

But… the bigger my world gets, the smaller my dreams become.

When I was a child, I longed to be a grown-up so I could do all sorts of grown-up things. And now that I’ve grown-up, I long to be a child again so I can do all sorts of childish things. When I was a child my world was small. My parents were the sun and the moon in that tiny solar system of a child;  the galaxy was the town in which I grew up.

Going somewhere, going anywhere, was an adventure even if it was just going to Keller’s drug store with my grandfather to look at the comic books. They were mixed in with my Grandfather’s favorite “True Detective”, as well as “Time”, “Newsweek”, “People” and others – magazines in which I, as a child, had not the slightest interest. To venture out of my house, out of my little solar system and into town was like the exploration of a new galaxy. Looking at comic books while my grandfather browsed though his magazines – in old drug store that no longer exists – was a both a memory and a yearning.

The older I get, the further back in time I look.

I can remember the first time my grandfather took me a Cleveland Indians baseball game. It was back in the time when the Indians played in the old Municipal Stadium. It seemed to me then that the trip to Cleveland – about 60 miles – was a journey of incomprehensible distance and took a very long time.

I left my little solar system and my galaxy, behind and ventured into strange and unknown parts of an unknown universe. It was only Cleveland, but to me it may as well have been Alpha Centauri.

When we finally arrived at the stadium, everything was so exciting, so big and so new. The vastness of the baseball stadium amazed me. When I looked down from our seats high in the stands and saw a real major-league baseball diamond for the first time, I marveled at how green the grass was. It was an unreal green, compared to grass at home – back in my solar system. I remember thinking that even the sky was a bit bluer than it ever was back in my little world. Everything was bigger and more exciting – everything was new and different.

Now the grass looks the same color wherever I go; the sky is the same blue in Boston as it is in Chicago. The clouds are as gray and gloomy in Dallas as they are in Columbus – rain is rain and snow is snow.

How I miss seeing the world through the eyes of a child.

When I was a child and the grass on that baseball field was greener than any grass I had ever seen, all I wanted to do was hurry and grow up and be a rea baseball player and play on that beautiful grass, under that amazing blue sky and drink in the roar of the crowd when I blasted yet another game-winning homer into the left-field bleachers.

It was easy when I lived in such a small world to dream big dreams. When I was a child in a small world, there was an entire universe of possibilities – and the boundaries of reality didn’t yet exist.

And the bigger my world gets, the smaller my dreams become.

The older I get, the fewer opportunities I have. The older I get, the less universe there is left to explore. The more complex my life is, the simpler and smaller my dreams become. I think how ironic it is that if I live long enough, my world my well be a tiny room in a nursing home, or in a small apartment, and venturing out will be is too difficult and painful.

I’ll be back living in a small word again – and when some kind, compassionate person takes me out to get a few groceries, it may well be, once again, like exploring a different world. I might then, in some odd way, experience the amazement of a child. But I doubt it.

I’ll have a life’s worth of memories to remember, some will muddy the waters and clutter the diminished mind of an old man.  My dreams will be limited by the knowledge and experiences of a lifetime. The innocence of a child will have all been drained from me, squeezed from me drop by drop by each passing ear. And though my world may indeed once again become as small as that of a child, it will be a very different world that the one I knew when I was young. And it has occurred to me that no matter how long I live, and no matter how small my world gets, I will never again dream the unbounded, unencumbered dreams of a child.

Today, I find myself wishing for the days when that old waterwheel on Cold Creek turned slowly ’round and ’round, and the splashing of the water it churned provided the perfect background for me –a teenage boy who aspired to be a writer. The grass along the pregnant banks was green and the spring breeze was young and fresh. And if the breeze was just right, I might feel a refreshing bit of spray from the waterwheel waking me from my bucolic teenage dreams.

Sitting alone next to that waterwheel was my escape from a world expanding to rapidly. For just a few brief moments I could live another life, in another time. Looking back, I can see myself as a teenage boy trying hard to hold on to a childhood that was fading too quickly – dimming to soon in my heart. Even then though, I yearned to be a grown-up so I could do all those grown-up things. But looking back, I did not even know what all those grown-up things were.

I have too much to do – and the time to reflect is over. The world that I’ve created with my own hands is calling. My dreams are so much smaller than the dreams I had as as a child. The world is so much bigger now. Though I had a hand in creating this world in which I live, I often feel like a stranger in it. I sometimes feel that somehow I’ve wandered too far from the man I might have been and too far from the man I should have been. I’m caught in an ever-growing never-never land of time.

How I wish I could find a little of the child inside.

I have so much to do, yet I can’t help wishing I could return just once more to that slowly spinning waterwheel and to that sleepy little stream. But I know that world is long gone. Even the waterwheel feel victim to time –  they dismantled it many years ago. They ripped it apart and burnt it, and ravaged those beautiful green banks along the stream and and turned it into a parking lot for a country store. The country store is now out of business, and sits empty next to a parking lot, full of ugly gray stones … a parking lot that no one ever uses.

I can’t go back because there’s nothing there anymore.

The bigger my world gets, the smaller my dreams become.

I have a feeling that it’s not just that way for me – I have a feeling it is that way for everyone.

2 thoughts on “The Bigger My World Gets, the Smaller My Dreams Become

  1. Ramona

    As a young person you aspired to become a writer and that you did. I know what you are saying, as I could not wait until I grew up. I can not go back in time but wish I could and if I could I would certainly want to go back with the knowledge I have now. I miss my childhood days and the carefree spirit of a child. I miss the days when a quarter would buy twenty-five pieces of candy that I could share with my siblings when we went to the country store.
    Times have changed so very much and just to be a child again would be wonderful. The carefree days went by but we will stay hopeful and keep our faith that we will always have our memories of what we have done. I just have to say thank you TC for what you have done for all of us and what you and EB continue to do for us and even though we can not go back and be children again I am glad that you both care enough to be here for us. Thank you for everything. You are a wonderful writer and teacher of knowledge.

  2. Nora

    I get it, I’m on the same path. Forever isn’t as long as it used to be. I still have dreams that I can put into that shorter looming forever and hope they materialize.

    You have great insight and I must say have reached the goal you hoped you would as a teenager to become a great writer. When are you going to put all your essays into one big volume?


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