Dream Beyond the DreamSocial Sciences
The morning chill had long since evaporated, so Charlie had tied his flannel hiking shirt to the outside of his backpack to let it dry. Almost exactly thirty years ago, he had written down in his Dreamcyclopedia a goal to spend a week alone hiking in the Grand Canyon. He’d never thought it would take this long, but now here he was, high on a ledge overlooking the Colorado River. He had not seen another human being in four days.
It was hard to maintain the appropriate state of awe in this magnificent cathedral, where every vista seemed to outdo the one before. As he rounded a corner, Charlie saw a hollow in the limestone wall that just seemed to cry out for him to stop and take a break. Dropping his backpack onto the ground, he extracted a bag of gorp, his water bottle, and his journal. He picked up his walking stick and turned it slowly in his hands, again reading each of the names that had been meticulously carved into it.
Each name brought back a memory of someone who had helped him build The Courage Place into a worldwide phenomenon – more a movement than a business – through which thousands of people had found a sense of direction, and the courage and determination to follow it. The business had grown in many directions that Charlie would never have anticipated in the early days, and the dream continued to get bigger and bigger.
The walking stick had been a gift at his retirement party several months earlier. It was presented to him by Cheryl von Noyes, who had become CEO of Future Perfect Now upon the retirement of Bill Douglas. “Just as we have leaned on you throughout the years,” she’d said in her remarks, “now we want you to know that you can lean on us wherever your trail leads you.” Charlie knew that was why he was in the Grand Canyon at this time, and why the trip had been delayed for so long. Thirty years ago, Alan Silvermane had told him to “Dream Beyond the Dream.” Charlie hoped that Silvermane would have been proud of what he’d accomplished; the thirty-five year old Charlie who’d sat in the office with Silvermane would certainly been astounded to review the accomplishments of the sixty-five year old man he would someday become.
Although not many people knew the name Charlie McKeever, The Courage Place had become one of the world’s most familiar brands. There was a Courage Place in almost every hospital, every airport, every shopping center, everywhere in the world. Every day, millions of people across the globe logged onto The Courage Place web site for a daily dose of education and inspiration. Courage Place graduates had started businesses which created millions of new jobs; served in local, state, and federal government at all levels; had started non-profit organizations and social service agencies to deal with the world’s most pressing problems; and to Charlie most important of all, had become teachers, instructing the next generation on the skills and attitudes of courage and perseverance.
Now the time had come for Charlie to dream beyond the dream. He had plenty of money and, he hoped, a lot more time to continue making a difference, to continue creating an enduring legacy. For some time, he had been writing down ideas in his journal. He’d whittled that list down to a few that really excited him. In the next few days, he would decide upon one of them. Charlie opened the journal and reviewed his list again. It would be a tough choice. Looking down the river, he saw a tiny spot slowly growing larger as it came closer. It was unusual, he thought, to see a raven so high, flying solo, kiting the wind along the river. As it came closer, it squawked loudly, and Charlie realized that this was not a raven.
It was an eagle. It coasted down the river, like an angel dancing on the breath of God, closer to Charlie. When it was not twenty yards away, the eagle tilted on one wing and flew by so close that Charlie almost could have reached out and touched it with his walking stick. Now right above Charlie, the eagle down and squawked once more. Charlie looked up and looked into the face of his guardian eagle. He had only one eye.
Charlie closed his eyes and closed his journal, and smiled into the sun. He would sleep for awhile. And dream. A new dream. A big dream. The dream beyond the dream.