Words of doubt

Last night the NBA all star game was on. It wasn’t a great game to watch, because no one was playing defense and it was a ridiculous score at the end. Watching the game got me thinking. I remember when I was a kid my biggest dream was to be in the NBA. I loved basketball, and still do. I lived in Maine my entire life except one year. That one year I lived in New Jersey. Blackwood, New Jersey to be exact. It was a very different place than Northern Maine. Frankly speaking, Northern Maine does not have much diversity. It is very sparsely populated as well. So moving to New Jersey was quite a cultural shock. We had a basketball court at our apartment complex that I went and played at every single day that I could. Most of the time when I played basketball there, it was with people of different race than me. I was one of the only white kids around playing basketball, and it was a bit intimidating. I held my own, even though I was only 12 years old. Most of those guys would even pick me on their team before some of the older guys, which was a huge confidence booster for me.

I had a good friend who I played basketball with a lot on that old court. And I remember one time, after we were done playing and walking back to our apartment buildings, we started talking about the NBA. It was the time of Michael Jordan, and we went on and on about how awesome the Bulls were to watch. I was quite partial to the Orlando Magic too, because that was Shaq’s first year playing in the NBA. Who wouldn’t like a guy who could break the backboard when he dunks it?

As we kept talking I let it slip that “I really want to be in the NBA someday.” I remember thinking I shouldn’t have said that, because I was ready to be teased by my friend for having such an outlandish dream. I had that cowering feeling in my head while I waited for him to respond. Then he just said matter of fact, “yeah, I bet you could make it, you can shoot really good, and the older guys pick you on their teams already.” I was really surprised he didn’t take the opportunity to tell me how silly my goal was. But that moment stuck with me all the way until this day. I wasn’t prepared for a true matter of fact, supportive statement like that.

Being from a small town it can be harder to have big dreams. First of all, there has never been an NBA player from Maine. Not that I’m aware of anyway, if there was it was a really long time ago. When you’re from a small town you don’t see people going to the NBA, or going on to become actors, or famous musicians. At least you don’t see it that often. So it makes it harder for people to believe anyone can actually “make it.” If I would have told my friends in my small town that I wanted to be in the NBA, they would have laughed at me. But when I lived in NJ, they saw people go on to be in the NBA, or go on to be actors or musicians more frequently.

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I didn’t end up making it to the NBA. I was a pretty athletic guy, and I grew to be 6’3 (still smallish for the NBA, haha), but I didn’t ever put in the amount of work that you need to make it to that level. Not even close. I also moved back to Maine where I stopped playing basketball as much, and focused on a lot of other things.

My point to this story is really about the moment my friend told me that he believed I could make the NBA. It doesn’t really have anything to do with making it there or not. That one second of encouragement stayed with me for a long time. Especially when I didn’t expect it. Plus I didn’t even think I could reach that goal myself. As an artist I’ve faced a lot of people thinking that art isn’t a real career, and that it’s not something you can really make a living at. So when being a professional artist became my dream, I faced a lot of scoffing and snickering.

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Having my friends and family believe I could do it, even when I was dead broke, and not having a clue what to do to make it, helped me get over the hurdles I faced. And believe it or not, the moment my friend gave me that encouragement has helped me to this day, and that was 23 years ago. So if you know someone with big dreams don’t just encourage them in a fake way. Look up people who reached some of those goals and see how hard they worked to get there. If someone wants to be an actor, read about some actors and see how they made it there. You’d be surprised at how many of these famous people with amazing careers and jobs struggled to get there. You never know what a little moment of true encouragement can do for someone. It might help them get over that barrier that’s keeping them from their path to success. It might even help them get through something 20 years from now.

Never squash dreams. It’s one of my biggest pet peeves. Whenever I hear someone scoff at someone’s “crazy goals” it makes me feel sad. Some people say the only thing keeping you from reaching your goals is yourself, but the truth is that a lot of times its yourself and the people around you. Some goals you only have a matter of time to reach, so make sure you always encourage people. Discouragement comes from those who are scared of their own dreams and failures.

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21 thoughts on “Words of doubt

  1. As always Tim, an excellent, inspiring and thought provoking post. Thanks. You write as beautifully as you paint!! Look forward to hearing more!

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  2. I really love this one. My whole life has been squashed dreams. From an early age I wanted to be an archaeologist. Maybe it’s a Maine thing. My parents grew up in Maine, from right about where you are as a matter of fact. I have spent all of my life here except for very early childhood. I was never encouraged to higher things in school. Take the easy subjects, secretarial course instead of college. Basic science, just enough math to get through etc., etc. I took a drawing class in high school and loved it. That was the only artsy thing I ever did until I was 47 yrs. old. The longing was so great to just get some color on paper and mix and create something, that I bought myself some acrylics, brushes and a tablet of acrylic paper. In the last 8-9 yrs. with encouragement ( in the beginning, grudgingly and with raised eyebrows) from my husband and friends, I have grown into a fairly decent artist who can give coveted paintings and sometimes sell my work. Interestingly, my parents are my biggest fans and when my mother says, “I can’t believe you can paint something that looks like this!” I think to myself, I know, Mum. You never believed I could do anything. But I will not be bitter about that. Instead, I continue to strive for better things and am grateful for the talent I have. I am very aware of the need to encourage and look for opportunities to do so. Thanks for this, Tim.

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    1. I think a lot of times parents try to guide people away from dreams they don’t think are fruitful, because they want their kids to be successful and happy. I think it comes from a place of protection, but I still think its not really fair to discourage a kid from a dream. I’m glad you found your way either way, sometimes you have to go against the discouragement and find your own way anyway. Thanks for posting!

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  3. When one of my sister’s saw my work, the first thing out of her mouth to our other sister was, “Did she (me) do this with “paint by numbers?” I told her no, I did it myself. She replied, “well, I never saw you doing anything like this when we were growing up.” Every now and then I send her some of my work. After a few day, she’ll respond with….”Very nice.”

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  4. Love this Tim! Always believed in you. We knew you could make it with your determination , talent and wisdom. You always had that way, knowing what you wanted and going for it. even with struggles along the way. You didn’t give up. NJ was a great experience for you kids. I smile when I read about the basketball court (Opie) , the broken nose, the Love you had to play! (The fear I had of you making it back home… Before! dark! How those big college guys would choose you. I think of that little boy, and man, how I miss him. But, You have become a successful young artist. A young man we are so proud of. To read your blogs give me insight into things in your thoughts. I look forward to the next one , my son…

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  5. My mom’s been in Heaven since 1992, but one of my strongest, fondest memories of my time with her was her saying (of me and my siblings), “God has has blessed you kids with brilliant minds; you can be anything you want to be.” When she said that I was just a child, and now I’m over 50; yet I never forgot those words of truth (ONLY truth encourages). Now I am living MY hearts desire (in ministry), empowered by the same love and strength that generated my mother’s encouragements to me.

    God bless you, Tim; we pray for you and your fragrant heart regularly.

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  6. Tim, I see this everyday at school. Now I work with first graders and their thoughts change each day but when they tell me they want to be a Vet for awhile and then after they do that for awhile be an explorer I say great! Go for it! Your dreams and goals are yours and yours to pursue. I so totally agree with this blog. So proud of you, my sons and all my nieces and nephews.

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    1. I always get the greatest feeling seeing kids and people from around Washburn achieving things and working hard to achieve things that are more difficult for people from small towns to do. Just starting a business in the area is difficult because we don’t have the population to support it like someone in a city does. So the creativity it takes to run a business around here is important. I love seeing Ethan create his own works of art and sell them around the country.

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  7. Having someone that believes in you when you want to cross an ocean makes it so much easier to lose sight of the shore and press on. I don’t respond often to your posts/blog but rest assured I am always watching. You have inspired me on my art journey ever since I found out that a fellow Mainiac was such a good artist. I have a very large print in my studio of yours that speaks to me every time I sit down to paint.
    JC White

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  8. I enjoy reading what is going on in your head day to day. This story touches home for me in two ways: 1. I am from Jersey having to move to WV in a small town pop. 7,000-ish were I graduated h.s. Then immediately left to join the Navy. There I knew there I would get all the support I desperately craved for working so hard. I lived on a 56 acre farm with live stock and huge gardens. So hard work was just what you had to do, with no thanks. 2. My husband from a small unincorporated town devoted every spare moment to basketball marking practice time on a calendar. He showed this to his coach and became the best scoring defense on his team. So good in fact that he scored 32 points in one game and got benched because they thought he was using drugs. He could have made it to the NBA on a college scholorship but decided he wanted to join the Navy because he didn’t have that encouragement from the right people to push on. He too still plays b-ball a lot and have a hoop cemented in the ground next to our drive way. So I’m glad you had the right encouragement to believe that what ever you think you can do, you can.

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  9. Mike tells me that the score was 38, and the reason (now) is being benched for scoring too much. A ball hog. He said HE thought that the coach thought he was on drugs. Now the truth is told after 30 yrs. Pardon my error, lol. I guess every point counts. Next time you’re in VA Beach area come by and play.

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  10. Wonderful post! I’m rarely speechless lol, but you said it all so perfectly. I’ve had moments/people like that in my life and they still keep me going so many years later when it feels like it’s too hard and I want to give up. I don’t think most understand how much impact the smallest encouragement (or sadly, discouragement… spoken or not) can have. Imagine what the world would be like if it wasn’t such a rarity. Or even if some just kept the latter to themselves lol. : ) Heather

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