I REALLY WANTED TO BE an architect as a kid; I went through more sketch pads than I can count drawing all sorts of buildings. I had books as a 9-10 year old about skyscraper architecture, I was especially fond of John Portman who designed some of the more iconic buildings of the Atlanta skyline; to this day I still giggle at the notion that I was interested in John Portman when the rest of my friends were outside playing stickball. I drew buildings a lot, often mimicking designs from my skyscraper books but mostly I drew stadiums. I drew domed stadiums, open air stadiums, stadiums with elaborate parking decks, somewhere in a sketch pad at about 12 years old I drew a retractable roof football stadium long before there were any retractable roof football stadiums as there are now. I drew college stadiums complete with special seating areas and walkways for the marching bands, I drew pro football stadiums for fictional football teams called the Sharks and the Mudcats with ridiculously large video screens and upwards of 8-9 tiers of seats. I drew stadiums that sat on banks of rivers and stadiums built into the base of mountains. I drew lots and lots of stadiums, I’d like to venture a guess that I would go through 3-4 sketch pads every summer, 80% of each of them was some form of sports venue. I knew that when I got older I was going to design those things for a living, that those stadiums would jump off the page and into some city someplace and real people would file in and out of the gates that I drew and that they would watch touchdowns and enjoy fireworks like that ones I’d depicted in colored pencil and marker. I desperately wanted to design stadiums and buildings when I grew up but something happened along the way. Math happened.
Two things I knew early on in my life, I loved to write and I loved to draw. That artistic side of my brain just worked so much more efficiently than the analytical side that Math lived on. Math was a chore; it never came easy, even from the beginning. I gasped at the sight of numbers in school and was sometimes brought to a shuddering heap at the sight of even one word problem. Math had done such a mental number on me for so long until when I found out that there was a good amount ofin any architecture program (not even a lot in retrospect) I just said forget it. I was willing at that point to thumb my nose at 5-6 summers worth of sketch pads because of something that I couldn’t quite get to work out for me during school. Was Math hard for me? Yes, it was very hard for me, but my difficulties in Math and the frustrations I’d felt due to years of less than stellar results as a math student shouldn’t have been the impetus to throw away something that I felt was meant for me, right? But I succumbed to that pressure and decided that maybe a career in architecture wasn’t for me.
That decision though wasn’t much so much fear as it was resignation to a mind set. I was looking for easy, I had it in my brain that it wasn’t really going to be worth it to struggle even if at the end of that journey and the hard work it took I would find it completely worth my while. Instead of looking for ways to work harder, to work smarter, to buckle down and find ways to make a dream happen, I only saw the obstacle when it would have been so much more beneficial to focus on the dream standing behind it. I wish that I would have worked my way over that hurdle back then; not doing so set a bad precedent. I settled for an easier degree but didn’t do well because I was bored to tears in most my classes, graduated as an average guy, no accolades, no awards, just a graduate, just a number, from one of the larger universities in the state. I didn’t have to challenge myself with any internship as none was required for my degree program. Up to this point I’ve had some great jobs; I’ve had the chance to travel the world a bit, see some places that only exist in books for most people but I’ve not been fulfilled in any as my professional career has been a disjointed, sputtering mess from the time I entered the workforce as a bright eyed college graduate some years ago. It always forces me to ask the question what I could have been had I not given up on destiny, even after failures and frustrations with math, and stepped up and did what I had to do in order to make my visions reality? But that conversation never ends in the professional realm. In areas of my life not at all related to career choice I’ve been chased from destiny by fear, frustration, and disappointment, and instead of doing the work I simply let go of the reigns. That’s dangerous, especially when I remember those drawings that I made years ago sitting in my bedroom as a kid staring at architecture books.
- I could have worked on a crew that designed a new retractable roof stadium like the one I drew as a kid before anyone knew that a Dome would one day retract had I not given up on my vision
- That cartoonishly big video screen I drew as a kid for a fictional team called the Mudcats looks an awful lot like the cartoonishly big one that resides in Cowboys Stadium now, perhaps I could have had a hand in that had I not given up on my vision.
- Any stadium anywhere, on a river bank like the ballpark in Pittsburgh or in the mountains somewhere like Arizona State’s in Tempe. I could have had a hand in if I only hadn’t thought so low of my abilities at one point to overcome the obstacles that stood in the way of potential greatness.
How many more things have I, have we all, failed to realize because we didn’t consider them worth the trouble in our near sight? I’m done with that, I’m done with no, I’m done with conceding to perceived failure. I’m done with convenient resignation. Instead I’m holding fast to my visions, my dreams, perhaps not in the field of architecture, but there are so many things that have gone undone in my life that I have simply given up the reigns on. That can’t happen, our dreams fuel us, they spur us on, and they color in our lives with all of the good that we should and ought to have. So I’m about reclaiming my visions, they may not come right away and situations may appear grim, but there will be no lack of try, no lack of work, no lack of effort because dreams are dreamed to be achieved, not fade away in the ever present ticks of a watch.
Somehow, I’m thinking in my imagination that would have been the advice that John Portman would have given the 9 year old me.
~thanks for reading
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