“Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams die,
Life is a broken-winged
Bird that cannot fly.”

As poet Langston Hughes reminds us, dreams fuel our will to live. When our children announce dreams of being baseball players, ballerinas, astronauts, doctors or artists, they are entrusting us with their growing sense of self.

Parents who discourage big dreams don’t want their children hurt or disappointed. But the real hurt comes — not from life, which has a way of guiding us toward true goals — but from parents who tell their kids they can’t make it.

The child who starts practicing golf by tying a tin can to a stick may grow up to be the next Tiger Woods. Or a successful designer of sports equipment. Through big dreams emerge real dreams.

At 9, I decided to become a famous TV news anchor. My parents didn’t usurp or undermine my dream. Nor did they push or discourage me.

Dad did begin escorting me weekly to the library. Holding his hand, I’d reverently enter that converted, slightly musty Victorian house. Tucked within the sacred world of language, I communed with Babar, Curious George, Black Beauty, Nancy Drew, Hiawatha, or Madeleine. Nearby, Dad assessed biographies and history books as intently as an expert examining diamonds.

I never became a famous TV news anchor. Seems I didn’t like fixing my hair and powdering my nose just to read aloud someone else’s words. I wanted to cover and write news first-hand. So I became a print journalist and traveled the world.

I found my true dream through that library. I found my true self through life experience. But perhaps most importantly, I found true happiness through the gentle clasp of my father’s hand.