Around the start of the year, my 6-year-old’s karate instructor explained the importance of goals to the class. “There are short-term goals and long-term goals,” he told them and made sure they understood the difference. He then asked each student to go home and write their long-term goals on their mirror so they would see them everyday and remember to work toward their goals. Maxon gave his goals a lot of thought and came up with three really good ones:

  1. Do a pull up
  2. Learn how to ride a bike
  3. Be a good helper so I can go out on the boat more

Goals have always been important to me, and I routinely write them down, just as Max’s instructor suggested. By writing down our goals they stay with us. They stick in our subconscious mind and we tend to work harder at achieving them. The goal I set for this year was pretty simple.

To use my boat at least once a week.

I am sad to report that I have not lived up to my goal and it’s truly upsetting. I have good intentions, I swear, but life has come at me fast this year. First, my mother was diagnosed with cancer and that’s consumed our family. She’s fighting like a bull but it’s an emotional ride with many peaks and valleys. Then my nephew ended up in the hospital, but thankfully is okay. And our tenants moved out of our rental property and we had to turn it around as quickly as possible. And of course there are our two boys, one who has special needs and a team of therapists. And there’s work. And my wife’s work. And our advocacy efforts, my wife and I are both on various boards and groups. And birthday parties. And family time. And travel. And shitty weather at the worst opportune times… and, and, and…

I keep telling myself that I will use the boat tomorrow, if even for just an hour, but then the phone rings. A meeting pops up in my calendar. So what is a guy to do?

I guess the only thing I can do is make this goal more important. Going out on the boat brings me joy. It eases all of the pain associated with the many reasons I just listed for not using the boat. So maybe I’ll sneak out on my lunch break tomorrow. Or the next day. But I think I need to cut myself some slack, otherwise I’ll just feel like crap every time I pull in the driveway and see her there sleeping under a moldy boat cover.

For some reason this inner battle to find time to boat made me think of one of my all-time favorite poems, written by Langston Hughes in the 1920s.

(Harlem) A Dream Deferred

What happens to a dream deferred?


Does it dry up

like a raisin in the sun?

Or fester like a sore—

And then run?

Does it stink like rotten meat?

Or crust and sugar over—

like a syrupy sweet?


Maybe it just sags

like a heavy load.

      Or does it explode?

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