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SHREWSBURY – It’s been said that the two saddest things in life are not achieving all your goals, and achieving all you goals. Partially to blame for unrealized ambitions, of course, is how people create desires or expectations that are implausible if not totally beyond the realm of possibility. As James Earl Jones admits in the movie “Field of Dreams” that he still fantasizes about playing baseball for the NY Giants though he’s now in his 50s, the Giants have moved to San Fransisco, and the Polo Grounds have long since been torn down, all of us have unrealistic desires that will never be fulfilled.
Once when in my sixties, my son called from his home in Texas saying that we should go ice climbing when he and his family would visit us that coming January. My immediate response was that I was too old for that sort of thing, but he then asked how I ever was going to climb Mt. Everest if I wouldn’t even climb a few hundred foot ice fall. He had me. How could I satisfy one of my fantasies, unlikely as it may seem if I didn’t stand up to his challenge, so off we went in January to climb the 200 foot frozen Arethusa Falls near Bartlett, NH at the foot of Mt. Washington. Naturally we first took an ice climbing course so we wouldn’t get killed, and now I can say I ice climbed at age 66 even having photos to prove it. Everest is next, if only in my dreams since in all honesty it’s never going to happen because I no longer have the energy or stamina for such a physically demanding venture, let alone the $70,000 necessary for the trip… but who knows. I’ve always thought it would make an excellent reality show for a filmmaker to document my trials and tribulations preparing for such a venture, searching for a sponsor, finding an Everest guide willing to escort me, the grueling months of training, the gathering of equipment, the trip to Nepal, the ascent and final assault on the summit with its ultimate victory or defeat. Wouldn’t you be interested in seeing such an enterprise?
Don’t laugh, for this reminds of an even sillier though far less dangerous aspiration I once heard about. While riding in a train through Dinali National Park on a summer vacation in Alaska, one of our fellow tourists was a woman from South America whose fondest wish was to see Eskimos living in igloos. Talk about impossible goals. How could she ever see igloos unless she went on a hunting expedition to the snow covered Arctic? She hadn’t thought logically and as she found out, trips to Alaska end in mid-September with the first “termination snowfall”, terminating the tourist season due to cold weather and the lowering water levels caused by the re-freezing glaciers. Her unfulfilled dream and most likely mine are just two examples of life’s little disappointments, but in reality if all our goals were attainable it would mean that we just didn’t aim high enough.