“What would you do if you had SIX HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS?!” My six year old niece asked me. Her big brown eyes grew wider, and she waved her little arms in emphasis.
Not that she even knew what six hundred thousand dollars was. Earlier in the conversation, she hung upside down on the couch, and said if she had a thousand dollars, she would buy, “the whole earth.”
But, given that I knew what $600,000 was, and it wasn’t a completely ridiculous idea that I could at some point within the next decade, amass that amount of money, I actually considered the question.
“I would make my own coffee shop,” I said.
“BOR-ING,” she made a fart noise with her mouth. “Dream big.”
I did a double take. Dream big? This kid definitely needed to cut down on the Disney Channel shows.
“Would it have a swimming pool?” she prompted me. “Or ice cream?”
I laughed. “Sure.”
She then went on to create my coffee shop. I think by the time she was done with it, she had me owning a freaking mall. It was a hundred stories high, and made of glass, and had multiple swimming pools, a petting zoo, a movie theatre, an ice skating rink, a napping area, a technology store, a kids learning area, and I don’t even know what else.
I laughed the whole time, but it got me thinking about how I see life. Life is hard, and in the process, we all get knocked around quite a bit. We learn that dreaming is risky. So when we do it, we learn to dream realistically. We dream dreams that will work, rather than dreams that involve risks.
We learn that we can’t have a giraffe in a restaurant, and that owning a skyscraper would be a lot of work to maintain–especially if it’s made of entirely glass, and that there are a lot of considerations to owning a rooftop waterslide park. Like, what’s it going to take to pump that much water up a hundred stories? And what else are you going to do with the rest of that space? Rent it as office suites? Office tenants are going to need a quiet professional environment. Not one with a waterpark on the roof. You’re going to have wet revelers in swimwear sharing elevators with stuffy suits on their way to impress clients. That’s not going to work. Not to mention, we’ve already overshot our budget, by, I don’t know, a couple million?
So we don’t even go there.
And not that that’s all bad. But, I think in some respects my niece might be right. I’ve lost the ability to dream big. I’ve learned to limit my belief system to things that I know will work, rather than to risk the idea that they might not.
That makes me a bit sad. I used to be the biggest advocate for dreaming big. But somehow along the way, after a few dozen hard knocks, I’ve lost it. And I don’t want to be that person. The person that plays it safe. Life should be an adventure. Life should be full of daring, and risks, and adrenaline pumping highs.
Life should be about dreaming big. Even if you don’t have $600,000.