It’s great when life comes around and treats you to opportunities that you could only dream of when you were young.
In 1968, I left for college. My major was journalism. In my ambitious dreams, I saw myself as a photojournalist for a nationally recognized magazine. Think … National Geographic.
I would travel the world. A trusty, 35mm Nikon would be strapped around my neck. With a notepad in my back pocket and a sharpened, yellow #2 pencil behind my ear, I would roam the globe.
If there was a conflict anywhere in the world, if there was a story begging to be told, I would be there.
My pictures would be developed in a dark closet. My stories hammered out on an old portable Royal typewriter. I would be chasing stories and scurrying to make deadlines.
Instead, I drifted into healthcare. It has been a great career. I loved every moment of it.
Occasionally, I would write a human-interest story for the state respiratory therapy magazine. For pleasure, I would write an occasional poem or other fun things that I enjoyed, but the dream finally slipped away.
That dream of adventure evaporated. It was a great dream. Nearly 45 years later, I was asked to write a weekly column for my local newspaper.
The Wilmington News Journal and the readers of this fine, small-town newspaper seem to like what I write. I am delighted. In a small way, my dream has come true.
In the mid-1970s, I wrote a few pieces of stand-up comedy. I could imagine standing on stage, talking to an audience. Having fun with them and them with me.
Having a microphone in my hand was very comfortable. I loved it. Fifteen years later I was asked to be the emcee for the Clinton County Corn Olympics. I told jokes, laughed and, for over 10 years, had fun with the Corn Festival audience of over 1,000 people. It was a dream come true.
For ten years, I dodged outhouses and told jokes that were so corny they had to be booed, then laughed at – then booed again. I loved it.
During my first year as mayor, Lee Hendee asked me to be a regular on our local WALH radio station. We started the Monday Morning with the Mayor show. We were never at a loss of things to talk about. I think we both looked forward to our weekly half-hour together.
Every week, the 30 minutes flew by. Not only did Lee and I record the Monday Morning with the Mayor program, we laughed, teased and enjoyed ourselves.
Several months ago, Lee asked me if I would come in every week and record a new interview show. We got imaginative and named it the Riley Program. The program has been on the air, or online, every week this year.
Again, it has been great fun. My guests seem to enjoy themselves. I’m having a blast. Lee gives me a microphone and lets me talk for 30 minutes every week. Who could I ask for more?
Talk about stretching yourself and getting out of your comfort zone … two days ago I filled the pulpit at the First Presbyterian Church in Hillsboro. I preached at both the early service and late service. The congregation was very kind. I appreciated their warm welcome and kind comments following each service.
Although I’ve filled the pulpit before, I always get just as nervous as I can be. I always try to act like I’m not nervous, but… whew… I really get anxious. But, the important thing to me is that I always say, “Yes.”
When an opportunity is laid in front of you, when it’s something you want to try, or have dreamed about trying… say, “Yes.” Don’t be afraid of failure. Be afraid of not trying. Be afraid of not stretching yourself.
We all have dreams. We only lose our dreams when we stop chasing them.
It can be scary. It might take a lifetime to achieve your dream and the reality might be less than the original dream, but never give up on your dreams, your goals, your aspirations.
My good friend, Harry Carey, always had an answer whenever you asked him how things were going. Harry’s answer was, “Life is good.”
When you live life to the fullest and stretch yourself to try new things, just like Harry said, “Life is good.”
Randy Riley is President of Council of Wilmington.