Katy McKenna Raymond  
Personal blog of christian writer Katy McKenna Raymond in Kansas City, Missouri

Personal blog of christian
writer & fallible mom
Katy McKenna Raymond
in Kansas City, Missouri

Katy is represented by
Greg Johnson at
WordServe Literary

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Live Out Your Dream And Discard The Box

imageI’ve been embarking on my annual decluttering, and let me just say it ain’t pretty.

This morning, I questioned myself thoroughly about why (besides purely sentimental reasons) I cling to stuff like I do. I came up with three main reasons. Most of the junk I’m holding onto represents the person I used to be (but likely won’t be again…), the person I wish I was (but likely won’t become), or the person I am now (but really shouldn’t be).

Decluttering is about more than pitching stuff. It’s about choosing my purpose again today.

So I immersed myself in my closet, grasping first at straws and then at substance. I quickly found at least a dozen items of clothing, three pairs of scuzzy (as opposed to fuzzy) houseslippers, a computer bag that would only work if I wore a suit (which won’t happen in this lifetime), and some ragged underwear to feed the lust of the trash bin.

And then I spotted it, there on the shelf behind my questionable purses: The sweet wooden box I inherited from Grandma forty years ago. I reached for it, thinking I’d stored inside the beautiful beaded gloves, circa 1945, given to me by a lady who lived to be one hundred years old.

Instead, a single sheet of torn and yellowed newsprint and beyond that, only emptiness. No other treasures to compete for my attention. I unfolded the sheet and gasped when I read the title, for I now remembered stashing it here, a younger me hoping a future me would still cherish the message. This article originally appeared in the Kansas City Star on February 27, 1986. Here are Erma’s words to me all that time ago, and yes, again today:

“Live Out Your Dream And Discard The Box”
by Erma Bombeck

When I slit open the envelope, a photocopy of a check for $5 fell out. The note with it was simple and direct: “I made this from my poem titled ‘Youth.’ Thanks for encouraging me.”

Five bucks! What can you buy with $5 these days? A pint of designer ice cream? One rose? A home-furnishings magazine? A pair of pantyhose? Four gallons of gas? If you’re Sarah, who lives in Louisiana, it can buy euphoria, with side orders of pride, hope, self-esteem and the discovery that someone was willing to put a price on your talent.

There are a lot of Sarahs out there—women who keep their dreams in a private little box hidden from the rest of the world. Occasionally they take the lid off and look at it just to know it’s still there and then get on with the business of living.

It takes a lot of courage to show your dream to others. They might laugh. They might not understand. Worse, they might take it out of the box and drop it, and where would you get another one? Dreams are fragile.

Some people, in desperation, give up on dreams. The clean house one day and decide: “This is ridiculous! I’m acting like a small child who refuses to give up a favorite toy.” So they toss out the contents of the box—the short story, the idea for a business, the college degree, the job they would love to have, the child they want, the trip they would like to take.

Then there are a few, such as Sarah, who are willing to take a risk. They take the dream out of the box, put it on and start living it. They lay bare their ego to discover whether they are equal to the dream.

Dreams have only one owner at a time. That’s why dreamers are lonely. No one can help them with the struggle. No one can ease the pain of failure. There are some things they have to do themselves.

Winning is not what they’re all about. What is special about them is that they are dreamers who put it on the line. They had the courage to admit that what they wanted was just beyond their reach, but if they wanted it badly enough, anything was possible.

They gambled. And for the risk, they were all rewarded with a legacy for others to follow. For some it was a trail that was blazed, an attitude that was changed, a place in history, a thought, a life that was touched.

That’s the difference between them and those who never take their dreams out of the box. They leave nothing.


Posted by Katy on 10/21/11 at 04:22 PM
Fallible Comments...
  1. Thanks for the article..

    <a >buy online</a>
    Posted by Joe  on  10/22/11  at  01:08 AM
  2. Love this. Thank you for sharing!
    Posted by Amy Parker  on  10/24/11  at  07:43 AM
  3. Lovely post, Katy. Thank you.
    Posted by BJ  on  10/24/11  at  08:02 AM
  4. This spurs me on again, to dream, and to not give up hope. I've always loved Erma Bombeck's writing but I love yours even more.
    Posted by Vicki  on  03/12/12  at  08:33 AM
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