Everyone Has a Dream
I smiled to myself after I left the recording studio. I had just recorded the final episode of the Shot Heard Round the World. It had taken me more than 2 years to get to this point. It was with a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment that I climbed into my car. I had just fulfilled one of my dreams. I had done something that I considered extraordinary.
A little background… I am an avid fan of podcasting. One day while listening to another History show I thought to myself… ‘hell I could do that. I used to teach like that.’ An idea or really more of a dream was born that day.
I have always had an intense passion for history. Whenever I walk into the bookstore the first area I hit is the History section. On my nightstand you can always find at least one (usually there are more) book on history. I regularly read in bed for about an hour each night. I will admit a bit bashfully that I drive my wife a tad crazy doing this. She wants to sleep. I want to unwind reading. I could read on the couch in the living room before coming to bed each night but I find the bed is more comfortable. Stubbornly I do a lot of my reading there. The light stays on and the argument continues.
Months passed and the idea to podcast continued to nag at me, especially whenever I listened to one of my favorite history shows. Life at the time was exceptionally fast paced. I had and still have a high stress job that keeps me very busy. At the time I had a budding family with a one year old running around at home. We were also expecting our second child. Between work and home there never seemed to be any real free time. In addition, there were tons of questions and potential roadblocks. Could I afford to produce and host an online show? Would the show could be successful? Would people like it or find it interminably boring? When would I find the time to do this? These thoughts troubled me.
Then one day while driving to the Jersey shore, my wife and daughter were asleep, I suddenly came to the conclusion that I was making excuse after excuse. For months I had been making excuses to myself or coming up with reasons why not do the show. I don’t like making excuses. I resolved then and there that I was going to become a podcaster. I would make the time to do the show. I nudged my wife awake and told her of my resolution. Duly impressed she promptly went to back to sleep.
Over the next two weeks I began serious planning for the show. I decided I would select a topic that would fit within a 40 minute time block. I needed to pick something that people would find interesting. I also set myself the goal that I wanted my listeners to come away having learned something. I would talk with passion, like how I used to teach. I made the decision that I would give the listeners an opportunity to hear divergent opinions especially where historians disagreed. I wanted to allow my listeners to form their own position. I also resolved to give my opinion when I felt it pertinent.
When I picked Lexington and Concord as my topic I thought how much material could there be? I learned very quickly as I began my research that my first topic was not so simple and easy to talk about, especially if I wanted to tell the story behind the story. I purchased and read a wide number of books and accounts. I needed to dig deeper and I did. I contacted specialized libraries around the country and began to get much more detailed information, including firsthand accounts. Reading these accounts I began to get a sense for what it was like for those who lived and fought in 1775. I made several trips to the battlefield. I walked it. I made sure I looked around to get a picture how things went down… how terrain shaped events. In short I wanted to know as much as possible so that when it was time to record I would be ready to tell the tale of what happened and not just offer a boring regurgitation of what someone could easily read online in 10 minutes. I wanted to paint a picture of the people, what they were like, how things went down and what they endured. In short I wanted my listeners to smell the powder smoke and feel the tension on both sides. I also wanted to provide an objective view of what happened. I tried very hard not to favor either side… though I will admit I had some favorite people that I gave a little extra attention to… call it the host’s prerogative. Looking back now, it is a bit humorous how I started out with a goal for a 40 minute show on one subject and ended with over 6 hours of recorded time.
The show took a lot of energy, effort and time to put on. Most of the work for the show was completed late at night while my family slept or by sacrificing what little free time was available to me. Simply put it took a lot of dedication. It was work. I learned a lot about myself doing the show.
Whether listeners liked the show or not was very important to me. I was giving it my best shot. I wanted my listeners to love the show, however I resolved that whether the show was well or poorly received there would be no regrets. I was doing something that was important to me. Call it a life goal. It mattered to me and when completed I would be able to say I did something original…. Something that I could point to and say, “yeah I gave it a good shot!”
So, was it worth it? Yes, doing the show was very worth it. Whether you love or hate the show it was worth it to me.
I think that based upon the response via email I have succeeded in achieving my goals. Listeners from all over the world have emailed and corresponded with me, sharing ideas, thoughts, opinions, constructive feedback. I have not gotten one piece of negative mail but mostly extremely positive feedback from listeners who loved the show. This is one my favorite emails and I would like to share it with you:
I wish I could bottle your enthusiasm for history and dispense it to all our cadets. :)
Colonel, U.S. Army
Professor and Head
Department of History
United States Military Academy
West Point, New York 10996
So why am I telling all this? Why am I laying everything out on the table? It’s simple. I had a dream of doing a podcast, a dream that was important to me. After dragging my feet and making excuses, I finally grabbed the reigns, set aside the time and made my dream a reality. If I can do it, then so can you.
If you have a dream of doing something that is important to you, my recommendation is to not let life pass you by. I fully encourage you to reach within yourself and regardless of excuses or foot dragging work to make your dream a reality. Do something extraordinary.
Fulfilling one’s dream is not always easy. Most times it is downright hard work.
Oh… and a side note: I have another dream of one day writing a novel. I’m in the process of fulfilling that dream also.
I would love hear from you. Please post on the forums or email me directly.