What Will I Start?

Why are dreams both “real” and “random?” 

It was summer. Hot. But there was a lake, and I was water skiing. Something I did every summer as a kid in Michigan. But this was different. The boat was going too fast, and I was literally holding on for my life. I could see rocks, branches and logs just inches under the water as I skimmed over them.

The water was both perfectly smooth and way too shallow for skiing. And I didn’t have a life jacket, not that it would have helped in 18 inches of water. And I couldn’t tell the boat to stop, because I didn’t know who was driving. And, of course, I was in Turkey.  And, why not, one of my closest friends was sitting by the pool oblivious to my peril reading my favorite novel. What the heck?

I rarely remember how dreams end. Which is also true of our stories in real life, right? Most things in our life are still in progress, with the end yet to come. But all these stories and experiences had a beginning, forming a trail of “firsts” that dot our past. There was a START to everything. 

With Jenni… I first saw my wife in December 1995 at a conference in Indianapolis. With my kids… first moments holding, looking, wondering in 2005 and 2006. And with other things… my first “real job” called and said they wanted ME. Then my first “real job” called and said they DIDN’T want me. My first baseball game at Tiger Stadium in Detroit where my dad caught a home run at batting practice. And the first time I caught a batting practice home run with my kids at Coors Field in Denver.

I also remember learning to waterski for the first time at Bass Lake. When I was a boy, my dad supported me (by holding my life jacket… always a good choice) when my young limbs weren’t strong enough to keep the skis vertical, hold the rope and keep myself balanced. I wanted to play like my older cousins, but I was struggling. My father was there… at every false start, failed attempt and full-speed wipeout. He cheered when I finally got up on two skis, and… just like that… I could ski. It became a summer tradition.

As kids, we live a litany of firsts… everything in the world is new. As adults, the firsts are fewer and farther between. Then as parents, we get to relive them again with our wide-eyed kids. Nonetheless, we never run out of opportunities to start something at any age. And over the years, we see the goodness and glory found in the journey that is undiscovered and unavailable at the beginning. 

So as this summer begins, let’s ask ourselves a question. “What will I START?”

Maybe it’s a chance to take our kids on an adventure that will introduce them to something new. Restoration Project has expeditions for that, in case you didn’t know. Or maybe it’s not with our kids, but with our brothers? We do that kind of thing too, but feel free to create something yourself. Or maybe it’s simply a journey on our own, where we are looking at all the firsts in our story and considering how we were shaped as boys all those years ago.

For me, I’m looking inward, starting to reflect and find that boy who learned how to waterski with his dad. He eventually became fearless on skis and once even went around Bass Lake in his clothes, leaving his wallet somewhere in the muck for 21st century treasure hunters. How did those summers of skiing shape that boy? Did it make him confident? Daring? Dangerous? Those questions, and others, are part of what I’m starting for my summer. 

And in the process, I look back, all dreaming aside, and consider how those things played out rather dramatically for me in 1998. Yes, there was a real lake resort in Turkey, plus a boat full of strangers skiing off shore. As I splashed out through knee-deep water, these puzzled Turks played along. “Sure, yabanci [foreigner], you can ski. HOLD ON!” And a summer tradition continued. Peril averted. Play accomplished.

But in the midst of my “continuing” ski story, a new one started. The friend reading Stephen Lawhead’s Byzantium by the pool? Well, he wasn’t even a friend at that point. He was a stranger, but one that would become a friend and brother many years later. That was the day I remember meeting him…for the first time.

Goodness and glory unfold slowly, days or decades after that first moment. And while futures often remain uncertain, the [waterski / baseball / career / friendship / family / …] future we hope for needs a beginning. 

So, back to this summer’s question… “What will I START?”

Bart Lillie, Core Member and Aficionado

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