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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

When You Surrender Your Dream*

I am borrowing something I found in the Library of Congress’ magazine, CIVILIZATION. Ten years ago, I was sitting in the dentist office waiting to get in. I was reading to pass the time. A certain piece there gripped me. The following is a summary, and I give CIVILIZATION full credit for the writing.

"He was born in upstate New York in 1856.... He was one of the many wandering Americans of his generation. The late 1880s found him in Aberdeen, SD, first opening a department store and then working on a newspaper. A few years later he popped up in Chicago; he eventually settled in California. Along the way, he failed in the axle grease business, managed an opera house and a baseball team..., was a traveling salesman and a buyer for a department store before becoming the editor of THE STORE WINDOW for the National Association of Window Trimmers….

"After the publication of his first children's book, MOTHER GOOSE IN PROSE, the 39-year-old author inscribed a copy to his sister; it may well reveal the true disposition of [his] heart. 'My dear Mary, when I was young I longed to write a great novel that should win me fame. Now that I am getting old my first book is written to amuse children. For, aside from my evident inability to do anything [great], I have learned to regard fame as a will-o'-the-wisp, which, when caught, is not worth the possession; but to please a child is a sweet and lovely thing that warms one's heart and brings its own reward."

That was it. He had given up. He resided himself to the reality of his life. He would never achieve the success that he had wanted. However, he did find a deeper joy—telling stories that pleased children.

Shortly thereafter, he wrote another book for children. The author, L. Frank Baum, gave it an unusual name—THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ.

*I “wrote” this story this yesterday morning. My proofreader, Sherry Bobbitt, has a sharp eye. She asked me if I had already written this story. I had. I wrote a longer version in June of last year in my weekly blog. Since some of you do not read my weekly blog, I hope you don’t mind me sharing a shorter version. I absolutely love this story.

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