He was in his fifties, and somehow along the way he suddenly realized he had no dreams left to chase after.
It wasn't that he had accomplished them all.
It wasn't that they were impossible dreams.
He had simply let go of them.
"Don't you know that dreams are feather-light and must be firmly grasped?" I asked him. "A handful of dreams doesn't feel like much at all, but they have taken many of us on a wild and glorious journey through our lifetime...that is unless they were the dreams others had for us, which we adopted," I added.
"No, these were all mine. They were things I wanted to accomplish before now. Suddenly I find myself empty and longing for nothing. I have nothing to strive for," he said.
"The dream store is open 24/7!" I said.
"Don't think for a moment that's all there is. Why, there are millions of new dreams waiting for you. There are thousands of possibilities waiting for someone with a little imagination to just walk right up and take hold of them," I said.
"Oh, you're talking to me like I'm a child!" he said, now sounding a little frustrated.
"Exactly. You see, dreams were once playthings for the childlike mind we had. They danced and sparkled off in the distance, tempting us, calling us to play. As a child we saw them all as possible. We believed we could do anything," I reminded him.
"Yeah, well, what happened to them? Reality burst the bubble!" he said.
"No, we did. We stood them next to what I call the 'measure-up sticks,' time and circumstance. When we decided we couldn't rise to the challenge, we dropped them and called them childish. In reality, we just couldn't measure up, we just couldn't see making the dream come true."
"I'm not speaking about little boy dreams of wanting to be an astronaut, Superman, or a cowboy. These were real dreams of success," he said.
"Dreams that make a man? Dreams of things and places to put them. Big salaries, fancy suits, and all the right friends in the right places. Does that sound familiar?" I asked.
"Yes, but what's wrong with all that?"
"Nothing. Did I say it was wrong? You're speaking to me about everything coming to an end. You're telling me that days of dreaming are finished. I'm telling you that's wrong. Maybe they were just the wrong dreams."
"How can success be wrong?" he asked.
"You borrowed those dreams from everyone else. We all start off wanting more from life. But how many of us start off wanting to become more?"
"The measure of success isn't the amount of things you have collected or the size of the bank account you hold. Ask 'Have I changed for the better?' Have you added more to who you are than the stuff you have accumulated?"
He stood quietly for a moment and said, "I'm empty!"
"You are not an empty man because you don't have things. You would be an empty man if you learned nothing in the pursuit of them. Now, take what you've learned and go in search of those dreams they can create for you.
"Dreams are like islands in the sea of life. Arriving at the first one brings great joy until we discover there are others to explore. Every journey helps us to learn more about ourselves until one day we discover that the value wasn't in the dream, but in the pursuit of it," I said.
"Oh, I don't know..."
"Yes, you do know! You know that there are no real endings in life, just places to begin something new. You are in this place now, and it is not over. You have just put it on hold until you get your bearings. Begin by asking 'What now?' Then listen. Listen to that same voice that started you on your journey more than fifty years ago. It hasn't been silenced. You just stopped listening," I said.
We sat for a few moments just looking at the world around us. The best part of being a friend is just being there.
"Maybe I was listening after all. I knew I needed help," he said.
"That is where dreams are born!"