Dreaming and fighting: Where are you at in your life?

So… Let’s get deep in this here place… Grab you a chair, and a cold drink if you need one. (And you there, half asleep over there, yeah, you better grab a coffee and tell your kid to shut up; he’s driving you crazy and you need to concentrate.)

Now that we’re all ready, let’s begin… So, my friend Tim Dittmer posted a song he wrote many years ago — my impression was that it was decades ago. Now, you guys know me: I’m all about kicking heavy bags and watching dudes bloody each other up, but this song — or poem, as it stands without music — really spoke to me.

So, why not read it and see if it does the same to you, and then let’s discuss it down below? (And, it’ll get deep below the fold, I promise you.)

*     *     *     *     *

To Lori Anne

By T. W. Dittmer

You’re born for the living
You live for the dying
And you die for the living again
That’s the way the river runs
Lori Anne

You hold out your heart
To the broken down people
Hoping that they’ll understand.
That’s the way the river runs
Lori Anne

You pour out your life like a drink of cool water
And it’s soaked up like rain on dry sand
For the empty’s so great there’s no way you can fill it
The river runs on
Through a desolate land

Lori Anne
Don’t ever lose sight of your dream
Lori Anne
Keep reaching
Keep trying
Keep your heart in the stream

You’re born for the living
You live for the dying
And you die for the living again
That’s the way the river runs
Lori Anne

*     *     *     *     *

Now, for those who read it and are obviously intrigued enough to get down to this part of the blog, let’s talk some.

I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts on it. Did it say anything to you? Create any reaction? And if so, what?

Speaking for myself, I found this poem really deep. And I normally don’t dig poetry, but this one really hit home.

I’m really intrigued by the whole “reaching” and “trying,” as he wrote above…

Look, let’s be honest… If you’ve followed my blog long or know me, then you know I’m pretty much nuts. I’ve got huge dreams and I’ve somehow resisted life beating the pulp out of me and making me “old,” though now at 35, I do feel like I’m having an early mid-life crisis and I’ve been reflecting more and acting more sentimental. I’ve also been fighting off an increasing tough bastard named cynicism.

This SOB has been beating and thumping on me more and more and making me wonder if the delusional, dreaming Stan isn’t just a big idiot who should give it up and act more like everyone else. (Yet when I mention this to friends, they seem surprised Stan would even consider such a thought, and it’s as if, the fact that I’ve mentioned such a thing only further depresses them a bit. As if they think, “Crap. It’s beating down Stan, too!”)

But back to where we were, this tough hombre named Cynicism reminds me constantly that my dreams are far-fetched and will almost certainly never be reached — statistically speaking for sure. Maybe not “Moses-parting-the-Red-Sea-wise.” Sure, by that standard, my dreams are attainable. Easily.

But by our more normal and realistic standards, Mr. Cynicism is correct. He shows me the numbers and figures, and I admit it’s beyond just an uphill fight. It’s more of a, “Stan must build a spaceship. Out of clay. And with his own plans — oh, and no leaning on Wikipedia.”

Mr. Cynicism makes his case and I stand there speechless. I don’t have a lot of evidence or data to counter him. Yeah, I can tell him I’m crazy, and I’ll never give up, and I have awesome blog followers, but the jury still looks at me with skeptical eyes and I know Mr. Cynicism is right: I’m still young and naive and probably wrong. I’ll do all this work and the failure from all that work will only slam down harder on me when it’s all said and done. I mean, have you ever seen an Olympian who took second place? Or came in a tenth of a second too slow during the time trials? Yeah, they’re crushed, and they know — absolutely know — that they’ve committed sixteen or twenty years of their lives for pretty much nothing. And their fat friends eating chips on the couch are laughing to no end.

And it’s at this point that I nearly throw my hands up and quit. Mr. Cynicism is right and I could go eat some chips and start turning the TV on more. Hell, I could die tomorrow, anyway, right?

But then I think it through and imagine that couch and the life that goes with it. And I realize that I also have this increasingly strong belief that as long as these crazy dreams live inside of me, I live.That as long as these crazy goals are out there, I have something to shoot for. That as long as this mountain I’m climbing exists — or if I’ve topped it, that it’s followed by another — then I have something else to live for. To test myself against. To curse about and wonder if I have it in me to own it.

But this is all just me and my rambling. Where are you guys at? You ever feel this battle between dreamer and cynic raging in you? And if you do, can you talk about it some? What do the voices in your head sound like, and how do the arguments go?

I know for me, when it’s dark and cold and I doubt more than I should, and when I consider saying “To hell with it, I’m giving up on the idea of making it big as a writer,” that’s an enticing thought at first blush. Removing the weight of that goal seems tempting. Desirable, even.

But then I see these people going about their lives, dreary, beaten down, completely practically dead. And I think, that’s death right there. When you no longer believe. When you have no dreams. When you’re just trying to get through the next day and you see no better future. Not even the possibility of it.

And that’s when I do my best to punch that bastard that’s riding me down. I go at him with all I have. Screw the data. Screw the jury. Screw those who doubt me.

I go at him, and I’m looking to sink my fist about three inches deep,  right in his throat. I’m doing my best to get him down and kick the shit out of him. Because I can’t let him win. No matter what the cost. And when I get him down, I can’t let him up because I know: He’ll come back for more. And he just might beat me.

And thus, that’s why I write long blog entries. And that’s why I’ll try to write a couple hundred more words on my third book tonight. Because I still believe, and because I’m still arguably delusional.

So comment below, if you’ve managed to read this far. Tell me I’m crazy or nuts. Or tell me how you face your demons. And whether the poem meant anything to you. And check out Tim, if you get a chance. He’s got a book that’s next on my reading list, and if it’s as good as his blog entries — the man knows how to write — it should be pretty sweet.

Stan R. Mitchell

Oak Ridge, Tenn.

P.S. Please accept the greatest gift I can give.

P.P.S. Thanks to all who continue to make my novels a success. I seriously couldn’t have done it with everyone’s support. I’m excited to say that Little Man, and the Dixon County War  has gone as high as No. 16 on the Amazon UK Paid List (see here and here). My second novel, Sold Outhas also done well, also, going as high as No. 81 on the Amazon Paid List for the category of War (see here and here). Learn more about both books here.

19 thoughts on “Dreaming and fighting: Where are you at in your life?

    1. Hey EF, glad it helped!

      And you know I’m always dogging you about your book, but you DO need to get more aggressive on it. (Partly because if I don’t make it and you do, I want to guilt you into sharing some love my direction!)

      But I don’t want to get all rah-rah in my first comment response because I’d love to hear some folks share some doubts, if they have them, as well as share how they counter those doubts.


  1. The poem is extremely close to reality for me. I was once engaged to a girl named Lori Anne. For whatever reason it did not work out, but we remained friends. Lori Anne died at 29 from injuries she received when she was thrown from a horse at a family reunion in Ohio. She was riding with her young son and moved him aside so he would not fall on the rocks. She did hit the rocks and passed several days later.
    Lori Anne left a husband and 3 children behind. Had we gotten married it is likely that I would have been left a widower with several children just as my father was when my mother died at 28. My great grandfather was also left with children when his wife died at about the same age.
    Now, as I am ripping through my 40s, I find myself wondering what I should have done differently. My father gave me very little life advice (mainly because he felt unqualified to do so), but one thing he did tell me was to chase all of my dreams before I got married because there would not be a chance to later. This premise is completely unacceptable to me. I am at a crossroads in my life and I refuse to choose a road that leads to a mediocre existence.
    Henry David Thoreau once said “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” I have several songs that have yet to be sung. The longer I keep these desires and dreams bottled up the more likely they are to burst forth like a volcano. I have lived for the benefit of others for a long time. I have now determined to live with an eye toward the dreams that my Father in Heaven has given me and let those who choose to be a part of my life benefit from where it takes me. Although they may benefit from the result, most will not have any joy or part in the journey because they have proven themselves to be more of a stumbling block, always trying to keep me within the confines of their dream. My dream has begun. Enjoy the show.


    1. Wow, Alex. Just wow…

      I’m not even sure what to say, but I really appreciate you sharing that story, and it makes me feel good to know that I’m not the only one chasing the difficult — or arguably impossible.

      You know my thoughts to those who have a dream. I say go. And go at full throttle.


  2. Just printed this for my husband to real. I have no idea how to motivate him out of his physical/mental slump. The other day I wrote him a play of a past/present/future discussion because face to face discussion can be so exhausting. Poor guy. Hate to see someone waste time.


    1. Oh, Kate, I’m sorry to hear this. It’s so hard when you’re down like that, and I hope this may help him in some way.

      (And in some ways, as a man it’s hard when you know you’re letting your wife and family down. So you must always tell him how strong he is, and how much you believe in him. He knows you love him. He needs to hear you believe in him.)

      Anyway, thanks so much for sharing that and I hope this helps in some small ways. It’s never easy for me to be real and honest and completely open, but I think it’s best when we are. And when we share our hopes and pains and doubts and pull together to charge toward our hurdles with renewed strength after the whine session.


      1. You’re awesome, Stan. Love to see the energy you put out there. I wanna be there saying “hey, how about we go on a walk or we just hang out together,” but before I know it one of the kids is involved in some form of doo doo lol literally and I don’t remember what I was going on about and he’s already lost in a computer game by the time its all put right :(. It is so true about the after marriage/kids thing: Time is sooooo much more precious than gold. We get discouraged because his injury has led me to do all manual labor in and around the house. So he gets upset because of the inequality of workload and so do I. Went to home depot tonight to get some bags of sand for kids. Bag was 50 lbs. I’m around 130 lbs. He’s 300 lbs. And I go for the bag cause I know I don’t want him to show off and slip his disc, but I can see that this is upsetting him. So frustrating. I need to get him some physical/mental assistance to help deal with his injury. Working out would do miracles for him in so many ways. Big love and a kiss to you and sis!


        1. Thanks for updating me on all this. I wasn’t aware about the injury, though I knew he felt stuck, so to speak.

          Just try to be as loving and patient as you can be, and always believe in him, regardless. (I’ve had a relationship where the woman didn’t believe in me, and that kind of a relationship dies — not in an ugly explosion, but in a slow and almost un-noticeable death.)

          Hopefully we get to see you all for Christmas! Love from Oak Ridge…


  3. Shoot for the stars, it means you know they exist and that means you have looked up! So many people go through life doing a zombie shuffle just looking at their feet.


    Hold the bar high, do not settle for the “good enough” the enemy of the best.


    If you are looking up and have high standards, you can help others know what is out there and attainable, keep them from just settling.

    Okay, I try to keep my motivational thoughts to never more than three at once 😉


  4. Or on the personal note and how I have changed through the years, started off invincible. Opened a business, up wards of 40 employees at a time (think I went through 150 in one year!). Two committed interstate banking fraud. They walked!
    Cynical? Yes, still tempers who I am today, but does not rule who I am.
    I have some of my energy back and now solely self employed and do not ever again plan to have employees.
    But when downing things happen (part of life), it is human to need time to recover, but do not get stuck along the way!
    As for the poem, I do not get symbolism, I do not (arghhhh! Kat walked across keyboard!)

    I enjoy these little moments more and do not get as upset.
    No, I do not like poems and do not listen to words of songs.
    But I am romantic enough to buy my wife flowers twice this year!

    The key for me is keep moving forward and stay in the game, do not completely check out.


    1. I like how you describe the ebb and flow of life. Maybe you’re right. Maybe we’re not always going to believe in our goals, or be smiling and full of confidence.

      Maybe we get beat down and crushed and we have to fight our way back on top of the mountain, so to speak. Who knows. Anyway, thanks for sharing your life experiences. I’m sure your thoughts will help others who read them but don’t comment.


  5. It’s a real compliment to me that you used this in your post, Stan.

    Bitterness or cynicism, that SOB you’re talking about, is like a cancer that’ll eat your ass alive.

    Head up. Look alive. You’re doin’ it.


    1. Yeah, he will. And it says a lot about both your life — and where you’re going — that you haven’t let him beat you down yet.

      Thanks again for sharing that poem/song online. I’m still surprised — given my lack of love for poetry — that it had such an effect on me. And as you see, it certainly had a similar impact on others, so make sure you share some more!


  6. Stan, Stan, Stan, I understand your connection to the poem. As cliche’ as it seems to be anymore, I am a huge Mr. Poe fan. His poem Eldorado always has the same effect on me as Mr. Dittmer’s has on you. Occasionally I can be found in my car, blasting my kick the worlds ass playlist (which I believe I will now dub “screw cynicism” in honor of you), and chanting “I’m getting to Eldorado b*@tches” between songs. I normally would not divulge this information but I thought maybe you would get a chuckle and some comfort knowing you are not alone.


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