A new teacher was seen one day standing outside his classroom with his forehead pressed firmly against a locker. The headmaster who was passing heard the teacher mutter, "How did you get yourself into this?" Knowing that he had been assigned a difficult class, the headmaster tried to offer moral support. "Are you OK?" Lifting his head the teacher replied, "I'll be fine as soon as I get this kid out of his locker."
When Laura's grandmother stopped taking her usual walk along the canal, Laura asked her why. She explained that Laura's mother had told her there was a psychopath along that route. Later Laura found out that her mother had actually said, "cycle-path".
The playwright Bernard Shaw wrote, "You see things that are, and say why. I dream of things that might be and say why not?" What a debt we owe people who not only dreamt dreams, but by hard work and considerable sacrifice, succeeded in giving substance to their dreams. What a debt we also owe to those who, realising that some cherished dream would never come to pass, settled down and served faithfully in some less exciting sphere.
Biography is full of shattered dreams and disappointments. David Livingstone wanted to go as a missionary to China, but on learning that was not possible, went to Africa instead. Walter Scott wanted to excel in poetry, but realising he could never match Byron, took to writing novels. Few live their lives on the basis of their first choice. For many, a physical handicap, or lack of academic qualifications or some unexpected family circumstance, made impossible a career they longed to follow. For others the dream of spending many happy years with their spouse has been shattered by a serious accident or illness. Running through many a life is a river of grief and disappointment.
For some people, such setbacks silence the music of living. They indulge in that subtle but dangerous luxury of self-pity. Thankfully others, instead of sitting down and crying over spilt milk, rise up and act. They make the best of what, at the time, they were sure was second best. Disappointment for them is not a terminus. When St Paul was not allowed to go to Bithynia, he immediately wondered if there was someone whose life might be changed and enriched because he had landed in Troas. And of course there was.
Just as the best cook is the one who on a Friday makes a fine meal out of the week's left-overs, so in life some of the finest banquets that have been spread for the enrichment of humanity, have been made out of the left-overs of disappointed hopes and shattered dreams. Far more important than what happens to people is their reaction to what happens to them.