My wonderful boss at work who passed away a few years ago would reply to the "What's going on Mike?" question with the answer, "I'm just living the dream - just living the dream." We all smiled when he said that because we knew how hard he had worked to get there and how blessed we were to have him teach us how to respond in that wonderfully positive manner no matter what the circumstance. The reality of what Mike did to get to living the dream went far beyond his simple answer. We knew that. His positive attitude and infectious laugh were the byproducts of nose-grinding work, shrewd planning and success in virtually all aspects of his well-lived life. He lived the dream everywhere he went and in every situation he encountered.
That made me think about dreaming and dreamers. Of course, that made me think of skating.
When our skater was 4, he told us when asked what he wanted to do when he grew up, "I want to go to the Olympics."
Aw, that's so cute.
As he progressed in the sport and became competitive, we went to big ice shows when they rolled into Denver. Stars on Ice was the first one where we were impressed by the star power of the national, Olympic and World competitors strutting their stuff.
"I want to be good enough to be in Stars on Ice."
Again, so cute.
A few years after that, we went to "Champions on Ice." Same statement; same reaction.
However, about 10 years following that he was. It was just one show at the Pepsi Center as the US National Junior Champion, but he was asked by Tom Collins and that was such an honor. It was also more than a bit intimidating to be in an 18,000 seat arena skating his show program in the dark with only spot lights.
When it was over, we waited as the buses rolled out of the back corridor after a long and enthusiastic autograph session with fans and friends. We watched Stephane, Sasha, Johnny, Tanith and Ben board the bus and wave good bye as they headed off to their next gig.
"Next time, I want to be on the bus."
"You can be," we said. "Work hard and you most definitely can be."
The next year, it didn't happen. Then Tom Collins folded Champions on Ice in the US, leaving Stars on Ice as the only big show for championship skaters. It looked like such a fraternity. Even if you did well, would you be invited to "the dance?" It wasn't a focus, but it always stays in the back of your mind.
The first Grand Prix and National titles didn't put our skater on anyone's radar, except Yu na Kim and thank goodness for that! Learning to do a show in front of thousands of screaming and adoring fans was at first overwhelming; after that it was addicting. Fans in Asia are like no others in the world. What an absolute treat the experience was on so many levels.
Then it happened. After the coaching change, the move from home, the second National championship and a trip to Vancouver the phone rang. Stars on Ice made the call to ride the bus on a 41 city tour that is now nearly over. The long rides from city to city, the White House, the friends, fans and family along the way; it is difficult to verbalize what it has meant, but the cast seems to demonstrate it night after night, city after city. They may not always be perfect, but they show the love - and the audience returns it ten-fold.
For me, it was overwhelming sitting in the fifth row of the Rosemont Arena on the eve before Mothers Day, watching my son be introduced to throngs of screaming fans. I sat with my hand over my mouth in the protective darkness of the arena and watched as he stepped on the ice and performed part of his Olympic long program. It wasn't raining outside, but somehow my hand was wet. He worked so hard for that moment. He worked so hard to be on the bus and to be accepted for his skating. There he was, in front of 12,000 people - and in the city where I grew up - all grown up and living his dream. It took a lot of work to get there. But thinking back to those first steps on the ice in Aspen at age 2, when the whole world seemed like tilting at windmills, I realized that dreams don't have to be impossible. It just depends on the commitment of the dreamer who dreams them every day. It was the best Mothers Day present I could have received.