This was written in the moment as we were starting out but I think it’s wrong now. This is not the story we wound up with. There’s a different story to tell. Maybe that’s the story we have to tell. A story about living intentionally with purpose, but life still shapes the journey as you go. Where we ended wasn’t where thought the road was going
The course of conversation was meandering as was typical for us. I had been attempting to read a book that should have been an exciting read but it required far too much effort for far too little pay off. I gave up less than a hundred pages into the book as the author had sucked all fun out of the story. This was my motivation to breach the subject with Ryan. There are too many bad books in the world. One way or the other, I was prepared to contribute. I asked Ryan if he wanted to write a book. With few embellishments, I gave him the elevator pitch of the story. My grandfather. A man who crash landed in the South Pacific during World War 2, punched a shark and partied with cannibals. That may be how we choose to remember the conversation or that may be what I actually sold Ryan on. His eyes lit up and he agreed without a thought. We had both avoided working for long enough, so we went on to start our days. I almost forgot about the conversation as soon as it was over. It was a nice piece of fantasy but it was never going to amount to anything. But neither of us were willing to let the dream go. The book kept popping up in conversations. We wanted to write a book, but our conversations never seemed to move past the imagined grandeur of the story we were going to tell.
Then a funny thing happened we started to get serious about this. In spite of our short attention spans, we stayed focused on Leo’s story. My motivation stemmed from my brother’s notable observation that we knew very little of our family history. For me, this was a present to him and his kids, so that they could grow up better connected to our roots and hopefully know where they come from, other than Iowa. As the conversations continued, I learned something unexpected about Ryan. The reason why he remained doggedly committed. For the better part of thirty years, he had dreamt of being a writer. It started in fourth grade for him. He wrote a superhero story and read it to his class. At that moment, he understood the power of storytelling and was in love. He pursued writing intermittently over the years and in secret. He submitted articles sporadically, hoping to get something published. He submitted children’s stories, hoping to get one published. He was reluctant to let anyone other than prospective publishers know this dream. This was his big dream that he struggled to share with people. And understandably so. There is something deeply personal involved in writing and releasing that into the world is a difficult proposition. It is a kind of fear of rejection, but writing, given its personal connection to its author, leaves a lot of possibility for embarrassment. The revealing of something deep and hidden in your life to the world is a trying experience. Even the thought of talking about writing was a difficult task. It took him a while to even tell me about this. It was a few weeks after agreeing to writing Leo’s story that he let me in on his hidden dream. He had mentioned it in passing over the couple years we had known each other. But it never seemed like anything more than a hobby for him when he had a few minutes to himself. He didn’t even tell me this in person. I found out as a byproduct of our newly formed joint venture. We were talking about starting a blog to track our journey and hopefully entice a readership to join our trip and so he submitted an entry detailing his account of how this all started. Nestled within the words was the revelation that this was deeply important to him. Not Leo’s story, but writing. Our dreams bumped into each other on an otherwise unremarkable Wednesday and they fit together like they had been waiting a lifetime for each other. Whether we had meant to seriously commit ourselves to chasing Leo’s ghost, we were seemingly committed to it by something outside ourselves.