When I grow up I want to be a… Dreamer?

When I was a kid I wanted to be an archeologist…

I spent about ten hours over two days this past weekend shoveling, raking and roto-tilling the area where our garden will be. I could barely move Sunday evening. This will be the second year we have had our garden in this area, but we expanded it by about 1/3 this year and we are working on putting up decent fencing that will keep the goats out. It’s now about 15’ wide x 35’ long, not a huge space, but enough for us to grow some fresh food.

We live on an old property. Our house was built sometime around 1890. Our three small barns are newer but I’m guessing were built in maybe the 1940’s or 1950’s. There has been A LOT of people that have lived on this property and I have learned, in the twenty years that we have been here, that if you dig a hole, you will inevitably find something.

We’ve never discovered anything valuable or terribly noteworthy. It’s usually just pieces of rusty metal, nails and small pieces of farm equipment, but we are always joking about finding “artifacts.” There are, seemingly, pieces of pottery and porcelain all over the place, buried a few inches under the ground, hidden history of the one hundred plus years of home owners that came before us. For awhile I was collecting small pieces of what seemed to be a brown pottery bowl, thinking I could glue it all back together, but eventually gave up.

This is what I found while digging around in our garden this year:


My imagination runs wild when I find something, so I think we’ve obviously either uncovered an old civil war camp or the site of an alien spaceship landing… or maybe just a place where previous residents used to throw some trash. Yes, that is Naughty’s (one of our goats) name tag you see there in the center, probably lost within the last few weeks. When I looked down and saw that shiny circle, about 1/3 of it peeking out from underneath the freshly tilled soil, I thought “this is it, I’ve finally found the Holy Grail, a valuable 19th century coin!”

Alas, just Naughty’s name tag… oh well, maybe next time.

What is it about boys and digging up stuff? Yes, even at 45 years old, give me a shovel and let me dig a hole and in my mind there is sure to be buried treasure if I dig deep enough.  In fifth grade, a friend of mine lived in a very old house, much older than mine, near Smithtown, Long Island, New York, where I grew up. It was a sprawling 18th century home, sitting up on a small bluff next to a marsh of the Long Island Sound.  Deep in the woods on their property they had discovered an old trash burial site where we would go dig up cool old things, mostly chunks of glass and pottery and rusted metal that was unidentifiable as to its purpose in a previous life. We never found anything terribly noteworthy then either, but I do remember one day digging up an old rusty can labeled “tooth powder” and figured that was what people used to brush their teeth with back in the day.

I never became an archeologist…

Like most people, there were lots of things I wanted to be as a kid that I never pursued.  When I was in elementary school I wanted to draw cartoons for the newspaper. My claim to fame, as a cartoonist, was a six frame cartoon that in the first frame showed a house with a Garage Sale sign in front.  I don’t remember all the details, but as the frames progressed, a Giant shows up to the sale, apparently does some intense negotiating and ends up carrying away the actual garage.

Get it… garage sale? Hilarious!

So I never became a cartoonist either…

After that, for a period of time, I wanted to be a Writer. I didn’t really know anything about writing and I rarely wrote, but my grandmother, who wrote poetry and, over the years, columns for local newspapers and magazines, put that thought in my mind so I went with it. I never really wrote anything consistently until I started The Brown Road Chronicles, but now it’s become a pretty regular part of my day to day life so perhaps I shouldn’t cross this one off the list yet.

When I was in high school I wanted to be a Park Ranger.  In my high school yearbook I was voted something like “most likely to go off into the woods and live like a hermit” or maybe it was “most likely to become a Park Ranger.” Or maybe it was some combination of the two. I can’t remember the exact quote and I don’t know where my yearbook is to look it up.

But I never became a Park Ranger… or a hermit…

The list goes on and on. I never became a Professional Cellist or a Ford Fashion Model or a Graphic Artist or a Custom Furniture Maker or an Antiques Dealer either and I can say, to this day, I still really haven’t figured out what I want to be when I grow up.

Professional writer, homesteader, goat farmer is probably the latest on the list…

Kids have that amazing ability to dream about wanting to pursue “careers” that seem unique and glamorous and fun. Then we become adults and realize that the odds aren’t very good to make a living as musicians or artists or authors… or archeologists… or homesteader, goat farmers. There’s a limited number of “slots” for every career and some of us have to fill the other slots and sometimes those slots aren’t as interesting or glamorous or fun.

But the point is to never stop dreaming about it whether those dreams are realistic or totally unobtainable.  Because if you stop dreaming, you stop living and of all the things I’ve taught my children, some good, some not so good, some still to come… the one thing I hope I’ll be most proud of when I send them off, wings spread, into the world of adult hood…  is that they’ll be dreamers too.

Now,  I think I’ll go dig a hole. I’m sure that coin is out there somewhere.

What do you want to be when you grow up?


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23 responses to “When I grow up I want to be a… Dreamer?

  1. How did naughty bury the name tag and what was (his?) motivation.

    I agree, the dreams are critical to keeping momentum.

  2. stuart sheldon

    “Strange ring-shaped item.” Outstanding!

  3. Hmmm…I used to want to be a vet, or a portrait painter that worked on the streets of Paris. Now, I’ll settle for being a published poet:-)

  4. I have yet to figure out what I want to be when I grow up… and I am in my early 40’s… a dreamer I am… a doer… sure… but ‘do what’ is the question?

  5. I love your descriptions for the items you dug up! Sounds like great fodder for a story! Be an awesome children’s book, or an adult time travel story!

  6. Back when I was growing up, there were a lot of options for “what I want to be when I grow up”. Today, the options are endless for kids to chose from. My greatest ambition when I was growing up was to get as far away from the little town I grew up in as I possibly could. I was never getting married, never having kids and I was going to have a fabulous career. Well… I got married to a hometown boy, moved all of six miles and became the part-time employed, mostly stay-at-home mom of two kids. Funny how life smacks you upside the head and sets you in the place you should be. My life feels right and I can’t imagine it any other way 🙂

  7. I want to be a writer. Maybe I’m on my way? I love your advice at the end, in my mind, just because I will never see a penny from my writing, doesn’t mean I can’t still achieve my dreams of becoming a good writer. Lots of people never made a living at what they love to do (including digging for treasures!)

  8. I am still dreaming, too. In 7th grade I wanted to be a vet, and now I teach 7th grade. Some might say I have realized my dream. I hope you have recovered from rototilling… we worked in the garden Sunday and i was sore and stiff – using muscles in ways i hadn’t in a while. good luck with your garden and your dreams!

  9. I used to want to be Emily Brewster when I grew up. I’ve made no secret about it. I think it’s really fascinating how much you can learn about alien spacecraft from gardening. Now I want to be a gardener when I grow up.

  10. Whenever I dig in my yard, I find a marble. Or maybe it’s actually the eyeball of one of the aliens that landed in your yard.
    When I was a kid I dreamt of being an an Olympic gymnast. Now you’ve got me thinking about pouring myself into an old leotard and practicing cartwheels in the front yard. I bet I can still impress all the kids in the neighborhood. 😉

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  13. Dude, bop over to my place. Your kids are going to be GoGo happy! And I need your address! 🙂

  14. I wanted to be a vet when I was a kid. Then we had a career day at my school and a local vet brought a 2 headed cat in a jar, and I was out! So, I became a lawyer instead. And now I’m still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. Currently, it’s writer, but that may be a never realized dream. So, I guess that makes me a dreamer, too, huh?

  15. New to WordPress and just found your blog – always good to see a fellow Michigander. And fellow goat farmer and homesteader. You have a new follower here.

    Still not sure what I want to be when I grow up (I should know by now as I have eight kids to feed!), but I wouldn’t mind being a farmer.

    • Hi Paul, thanks for stopping by. Been poking around your site, you have a fascinating story to tell. Corporate guy by day, homesteader by night and weekend. You are much more homesteader than us, we barely find the time to get a garden in each year! And our goats are just pets, including name tags because we let them roam free most of the time. But I’d love to be able to do more of what you are doing, be more self sufficient. Love your writing style too. You are a good story teller!

  16. Richard L Wiseman

    I wanted to be a burglar when I grew up, like ‘The Phantom’ in the PInk Panther films. I wanted to be a smooth criminal. I was encouraged by the fact that my teachers thought that criminality was my likely future. I did try it for a while, but it’s not very glamorous and it’s quite hard work; it’s not very grown up stuff and very stressful too. As for archeology it doesn’t appeal to me, but I have dug myself into a few holes that were hard to get out of.

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