I was singing along to the radio on my drive to school Friday morning when a bumper sticker on the car in front of me stopped me mid song. “Remember who you wanted to be.” Hmmm. Had I become who I wanted to be? I thought back to my childhood dreams. I used to play school with sister Cathy in the back porch bathroom (I have no idea why we chose a bathroom in a very large house as our classroom). Maybe I had become who I wanted to be: a teacher. But, then I remember wanting to be an actress/singer for about four years, but then I met my future husband, who was more talented and had way more drive, and decided that I didn’t really want to make the sacrifices to become a singer and actress. The more I think about this bumper sticker, the less I think it’s about our chosen professions. If you allow it, this bumper sticker has the power to make you crawl into a hole, full of regrets, unfulfilled dreams or dreams deferred. What I believe it calls us to do is to be introspective, to “process” as a good friend often reminds me to do. If I asked all of my 125 students what they’d like to be doing in 20 years, I would speculate that 95% would say they want to be a famous athlete, actress, singer or anything that would bring riches and fame. Most would not mention wanting to just be satisfied with a simple existence or to be a good father, mother, or friend to others. Why would they? We have set them up to have extrinsic goals: get good grades or you won’t get into a good college, work hard at your jump shot and you will make the travel team, practice singing and participate in more plays or you won’t get a bigger part. We place our kids, at a very early age, on the treadmill of life and dangle carrots in front of them. I’m as guilty of it as most parents, and I don’t think there is anything completely wrong with it. If we don’t tell our kids to work hard and set goals, then they will never cut the umbilical cord. They’ll become adults like the character Chaz from Wedding Crashers, yelling for Mom to make them some meatloaf! What I do know is that it takes years of introspection to understand that who we really wanted to be had nothing to do with the salaries we make or the prestige of our jobs. I can assure you today, on what would have been Tony’s 47th birthday, that in his last few months, his regrets had nothing to do with unfinished songs, awards that were never won, or money. He once told me in a private moment that the kids and I had given him everything he had ever wanted and needed: unconditional love, abundant laughter, and a peaceful place to set down his guitar. Look at your life today as a spectator. What are you grateful for right now? What do you wish you had more of today? Love? Peace? Laughter? It might be right there and you are ignoring it. If not, do something to find it, and when you find it, do everything to cultivate it and let if flourish. It takes a little work, but it’s worth it in the end. And then you will have everything you want and need. After all, this is who you really wanted to be.