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Dream Big Dreams

Updated: Jun 11

Shooting for the stars can sometimes result in meeting them

When you follow a dream, you never know where it’s going to lead you. When I was a boy, I dreamed of being part of a great adventure like those I watched our read about. My favorite stories and movies were those that involved characters like knights and pirates and cowboys and space men or bold treasure hunters seeking out the riches of lost civilizations, and I often imagined myself as one of them. Stories like these fascinated me and captured my imagination. As an only child who lived in a small neighborhood with no other kids my age, I developed a very active imagination in order to entertain myself and frequently used my toy soldiers and action figures to play out my own daring tales of high adventure. It was my love of stories, especially those of the past, that led me to becoming a history teacher.

After the Summers of ’77 and ’81, my favorite stories revolved around Star Wars and Indiana Jones. Not only were they incredibly fun, they also taught valuable lessons. So, when I became a history teacher, I found unique ways to incorporate those stories and lessons into my curriculum. My students loved it, and of course, so did I, because they were inspired to learn and dream, with the stories that had done the same for me as well.

Over time, a new dream began to form in me and that was to spread the success that I’d had teaching with Star Wars and Indy to other classrooms and students beyond my own. To pursue this dream, I decided to reach out to George Lucas himself in 1997 to specifically thank him for the creating The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles and inform him of how I’d been using the series in class. You can read about what happened next in the first of a three-part series that wrote about my adventures teaching with Young Indy but suffice it to say, my dream of spreading the value of teaching with both Star Wars and Indiana Jones began to come true.

Since that time, I’ve had some amazing real-life adventures with my partner and colleague in all things Indy and Star Wars, Wes Dodgens. We’ve visited Skywalker Ranch with our families, created two widely popular educational platforms (Adventures in Learning with Indiana Jones and Star Wars in the Classroom) and even worked on a few projects that we wished we could talk about (but can’t 😊). Last year, I was even blessed with the opportunity to be interviewed at Skywalker Ranch for the highly acclaimed documentary, Timeless Heroes: Indiana Jones & Harrison Ford  for Disney+. Along the way, we’ve made some amazing friends from around the world because of this work, which has been one of the highlights of it all.

Of course, through it all, there have been numerous ups and downs; doors that opened quickly and others that closed just as fast after months or even years of work. But that’s life. You learn and move on and keep chasing the dream, hoping that you develop discernment for how not to let that pursuit get in the way of other things that are equally or more important in life. Sometimes, that becomes the challenge to overcome and the greatest lesson to learn: don’t become so focused on your dreams that you loose focus on the things that matter most, such as family, friends, faith and your own well-being.

With all of our many adventures, one of the greatest came at this time last year, when Wes and I were able to attend the Hollywood red carpet premier of Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny along with our families. Talk about experiencing a dream. Stories, particularly told through the medium of film, have always been a part of our family. My sons have grown up on the stories of Star Wars and Indiana Jones and I’ve watched as they learned from them just as I did when I was a kid. My heroes from these stories were their heroes as well and to share the experience of meeting some of the gifted actors whose portrayals of the characters we enjoyed so much at the premier of the final chapter in the story of Indiana Jones was truly a blessing. What’s more, every one of them were incredibly kind, gracious, patient and truly down-to-earth people.

The red carpet experience was truly amazing yet an even greater surprise came in the theater when we all were graced with the chance to hear The Maestro himself, John Williams, conduct a live orchestra in performing parts of his score for the film. From meeting long-time friends for the first time in person, to bumping into Harrison Ford at the afterparty, it was a day that will long be remembered and one that I would never have dreamed would ever have happened when I was a kid. But I have that little kid to thank for it all. It was his dreams and the lessons he tucked away from the stories he loved over all those years that has always provided the inspiration to dream on.

So what’s the moral to the story? Dream bold dreams, prioritize those dreams and pursue the ones that fill your cup, that inspire you to be better, that bring you joy, and can be shared with those that you love. As I write these words, they are a reminder to myself as much as I hope they are encouragement to you.

Enjoy the journey, my friends, and keep reaching higher. You’ll get there, and I will to; and when we do, let’s share what we learn with others.

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