The Dream That Changed My Life

Have you ever ridden an activity bus?

Playing three sports in high school, I rode these 45-foot beauties quite a bit – no seat belt, seats as comfortable as a block of concrete and sounds that make you think they will fall apart any minute.

When you load one full of high school boys, it’s a testosterone-packed adventure.  Dull moments do not exist and half of the stories that emerge are sworn into secrecy by those present.

However, one experience during a two-hour road trip to an out-of-town game literally changed my life.


There is one very important fact you must understand about the hierarchy of seating that exists on these buses. As you make your way down the aisle, there’s a natural progression. Wether it be age or perceived swagger, the older and cooler guys sit at the back of the bus. Passing the fifth row was a rite of passage that usually occurred by hitting a game winning home run or by being an upperclassman.

The last row holds a uniqueness all its own. Ours belonged to John Robert Mitchell.

Rob and I had grown up playing ball together. He was an awesome athlete to his core – a physical specimen; he possessed every tool. To top it all off, he played the guitar. The last seat on our bus was rightfully claimed by none other.

On this particular day, Rob brought his guitar.

As we all gathered in the last few rows, he began picking familiar tunes and we sang along. Southern rock songs like Sweet Home Alabama, Ramblin’ Man, and rock tunes by Jimi Hendrix rang out over the rattle of the bus.

As we sat there, I thought, I’ve got to do that!

A couple of weeks later, my godfather bought me my first guitar.

Chasing Your Dreams

Have you ever tried something new? It’s difficult isn’t it? Really difficult actually.

I quickly realized that the glamour of guitar wasn’t necessarily the journey I was experiencing. Changing chords was slow and my strumming patterns sounded more like the clanking of the bus rather than anything audibly pleasing.

The quick and easy answer is practice, right? Well, they forget to tell you that it KILLS your fingers trying to press down on the strings. Blisters and calloused fingers fight to keep you from practicing at all.

This is the point where dreams get tough.

You know what happens then? You STOP. You give up on your dream.

You tell yourself, Maybe I wasn’t meant to do this. The funny thing is, you’ll find encouragement from friends and family as they say, You’re probably right. You’ll never be a musician anyway.

Being tired of the grind and accepting the invitation, you QUIT.

Fortunately, for whatever reason, I refused to quit.

Here’s where dreams become a reality.

The truth is, my friends were right, I never became a glamorous musician.

However, sixteen years later, music has soothed many tough moments and my guitar playing has brought me incredible experiences; actually, it has changed my life.

While in college, my guitar playing led me to become part of a Christian organization called Young Life. While playing guitar for the local high school club, I met a senior basketball player named Liz Bailey.

Our college days

Our college days

13 years later

13 years later

Honestly, I refuse to call into question what would have happened if I had given up on that simple dream of playing the guitar.  The thought of not meeting my beautiful wife and enjoying every ounce of the craziness that our three boys bring.…

The point is, chasing your dreams, as small as they might seem, will lead you to amazing things. Dreams are uniquely interconnected – even when we give up on one, we should embrace another. Dreams build on one another as we pursue them.

In the words of the great Steve Perry:

Don’t stop believing. Hold on to that feeling.

(It’s ok, you can sing it in your head all day; You’ll thank me around 4pm.)

Continuing to put dreams into action leads to clarity.

Redefining richness is about clearly defining what you seek, so dream a little. It will lead you places you could never imagine.

One thing is for certain, failing to dream doesn’t lead you anywhere.


CHALLENGE: Think of one key decision that has led you to where you are today.

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8 Responses to The Dream That Changed My Life

  1. Sarah January 17, 2014 at 10:06 am #

    Great post. It is amazing when you look back on life and consider “If I never had done ‘x’, then ‘y’ would never have happened!” It’s the whole “what if” thing. I try not to dwell on that because, in its own way, life has held some pretty amazing things for us.

    • Matt Ham January 17, 2014 at 10:34 am #

      Totally Sarah! I don’t do the what if either, but rather the look what as in look what came of that! Small steps today can lead to moving mountains tomorrow! That’s the process of faith!!

  2. Joseph Lalonde January 19, 2014 at 8:53 am #

    Wow Matt! That is quite the story. Glad you never gave up on the guitar and it helped you to meet your wife.

    • Matt Ham January 19, 2014 at 8:58 am #

      I never really considered it until I started writing this week! It’s amazing what small steps can lead us to isn’t it Joe?

  3. Pamela Hodges September 20, 2014 at 8:24 pm #

    Deciding to move to Tokyo after graduating from Art College. I met my husband there. And on Monday we celebrate 24 years of marriage.
    I love you story.

    • Matt Ham September 21, 2014 at 4:08 am #

      Oh WOW Pamela! I love that. Such a testimony too, 24 years! Congrats.


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