I was raised by a dreamer who wanted to save energy.

Maybe that’s why I love the whole idea of alternative energy: wind, sun, squirrels running in wheels, dog sleds. When I drive from Minnesota to Missouri, one of my favorite stretches is passing the wind farms in Iowa. There is a peacefulness to the turbines turning in the wind and generating power to heat or cool homes, to keep schools and hospitals operating. They are saving humanity from a dark world. They are our friends. Or are they?

Source: http://www.xkcd.com


The Impossible Dream?

The reason I travel to Missouri so much is because my 82-year-old father lives in an assisted living home there. It takes me about ten hours grinding through the flatness of Iowa and the daredevil, bumper-to-bumper traffic of St. Louis. I burn energy all the way.

Once there, we talk about his health and how the Cardinals are doing. He has taken Alzheimer’s medication for years so the conversation often takes twisted paths. However, it always, always, stops at one place: his energy-efficient, insulated wall systems. This is his BIG dream, the windmill he cannot pass without stopping. He sleeps with this dream and jousts with it when he’s awake, making drawings on a tablet by his easy chair.

I have heard this dream a million times. Parts of it are real; he does have a new patent for the wall system and it is revolutionary. Parts of it have yet to materialize: “I’m going to sell this wall system and leave my girls a good inheritance,” my father says.

To a farm boy turned general contractor turned inventor providing for family is important. He also is proud of what he has accomplished, that the U.S. Department of Energy gave him an award for his wall system. For years, this dream has given him purpose. It still does.

Why do some people give up on their dreams so easily, while others, like my father, hold on with the tenacity of a snapping turtle? Watching the other elderly residents stream into the dining hall pushing walkers and wheelchairs, I wonder what their dreams were and I hope they came true. If not, I hope they are still dreaming. Because dreams aren’t just for the young. They keep us alive in places where we go at the end of our lives.

It’s like in the movie Hugo. Everything must have a purpose, even human beings. So don’t give up on your “silly” dreams or “impossible” ones, no matter how old you are or how much money you have or how many aches and pains you wake up with in the morning.

And if you want to buy a wall system, give me a call.


My father passed away in December 2012. But every time I read this piece I think of him and other dreamers and how grateful I am that the world has dreamers. What is the dream that gives you purpose?