This entry is part of a contest by HuffPost Books and The Buried Life. Click here to read more about it.
Every human being has dreams throughout their life. These dreams are based off of experiences we have. A small boy wants to be firefighter when he sees the tall, super hero like, qualities of a man in uniform. A mother wants to give her children the luxuries she never had as a child growing up. A middle-aged man wants nothing more than to see his long lost son just one more time before he dies. We all have different dreams, and sometimes these dreams may change. We shape our dreams based on the ever-changing world we inhabit. But there will always be that one climatic moment that puts life into perspective and gives us the drive to carry out our most important dream. For myself, that moment happened last year.
I found myself living a pretty predictable lifestyle. I would follow the regular daily routine, which included taking classes, working, and sleeping. I started suffering from the kind of anxiety that could drive a person insane. I felt as if everyday was being wasted. I felt as if I had been placed in a small cage, dying of claustrophobia. Fed up with the everyday norms, I discovered the urge and desire to carry out one of my biggest dreams in life, to work for Disney. Maybe it was because I had grown up watching the heartfelt movies with my mom. Perhaps it was the company's focus on the importance of family. Maybe I just thought it would be fun to do. Despite the reason, I left my small town in Ohio and voyaged across the country to a place called Disneyland. They call Disneyland "The Happiest Place on Earth," a pretty bold statement I must say. I settled down in my new home and could not wait to start working!
The day finally came where I found out my new position for the next eight months. They told me that I was going to be a skipper on the Jungle Cruise. At the time, I had no idea what the Jungle Cruise was, for I had never been to A Disney Park before. I began working everyday at the Jungle Cruise, and to my surprise, it was the best thing I had ever done in my life. I made people laugh, told very imaginative stories, and did it all with a smile on my face. From what I could remember, I had never been so happy in my life. Everyday was special and had its own surprises.
Every morning I would walk a mile to work. I would always come across the most interesting people on my way. I always found myself striking up conversations with street performers, charming homeless residents, and people waiting at the bus stops. I loved the people around me, because they all reminded me of the simple things in life. But one day I came across something that would change my perspective on life forever. I saw a small child who had fallen down on the pavement. I immediately rushed over to assist the small boy. I introduced myself to him and ask him what his name was. He said his name was Gabriel. I sat next to him and comforted him. To get his mind off the painful fall, I began asking him what he liked to do in his spare time. Gabriel said he enjoyed playing basketball and that he wanted to play for the Lakers someday. Being a massive fan of basketball, we hit it off! Then I began asking him where his parents were. He explained to me that he didn't have parents and that he lives in an orphanage a few miles away. I could tell by his clothing that he attended a lower class home. Only my mother had raised me, so I understood what it was like to not know your own parents. We continued to talk for a little longer and I asked him what his biggest dream was. Before I could even finish the question, he yelled, "Go to Disneyland and meet Mickey Mouse!" His excitement struck a chord in me, for he reminded me of myself. It was nice to find out we were both Disney fanatics! I was determined to make this child's wish come true. I took Gabriel back to the home and had him show me around and introduce me to some of his friends. It turns out that Gabriel was definitively one of the popular kids at the home.
He showed me his collection of toys and we began playing for a little while. Turns out that Gabriel had a vast imagination and could find enjoyment in the little things in his life. This made me ashamed at all the times I complained to my mother that I didn't have the coolest toys or the latest games. While I was visiting, I asked the caretaker of the home if she would allow me to take Gabriel to Disneyland for a day. A look of confusion covered her face. I explained to her that I worked there and would really enjoy taking Gabriel with me one day. As she held back tears, I could tell that it wasn't a normal request. As soon as she gave me the OK, I cleared my schedule and came back to the home the following day. The sunrise seemed extra vivid to me on that morning for some reason. As every single inch of the sun broke the horizon, I felt a sense of security. I wasn't worrying about my troubles, and any anxiety that I was feeling went away with every step I took. I arrived at the home after a long walk. Gabriel was so excited to go to Disneyland that I could barely control him. His excitement was so contagious that I found myself shaking with anticipation for the new day. We walked all the way to the Disney property and approached the entrance. As I handed Gabriel his ticket, the young lady at the counter asked, "Are you guys brothers?" I replied, "Yes, why yes we are!" When those words came out of my mouth I'll never forget the way Gabriel looked at me. I could tell that he finally felt the love and compassion of a family, even if it was a small one. I hugged him tightly and could not help but cry. He taught me so many important priceless life lessons throughout the day, but most importantly, he taught me the importance of being a humble person. I'll never forget Gabriel and the joy we brought each other that day.
As I stated before, our dreams change when we experience new things. This experience was surely awe inspiring and made me feel as if I had another chance to live my life over again. For myself, I knew I loved children and wanted to make a difference in their lives. This experience shaped a new dream for me. That dream is to take an entire orphanage to Disneyland. By accomplishing my dream, I hope to instill a sense of hope for anyone who reads my story. Life is what you make it. You're the captain, and it's up to you to set your own course. You may experience choppy seas, but the sunrise at the end of your journey brings new life.