Some time ago, a boy named Christopher was in the fifth grade. One day, his teacher told the class to go home and make a collage of who you want to become. “Don’t limit yourself” he said. “Dream as high as you possibly can. Reach for the stars, and one day you might actually grab one.” The little boy went home and found awesome pictures of gold and pretty buildings and beautiful waterfronts. It was decided: he was going to be an explorer who found the lost city of Atlantis. That night, Christopher went outside to look at the stars. He pulled out his chair, stood on top of it, on his tip toes, and tried to grab a star. He reached and reached, but he missed, and fell off his chair.
When I was a teenager in highschool, our counselor told us to pick whatever class that appeals to us. “Pick classes” she said, “that interest you so much, that you wouldnt mind making that skill your life long career.” After thinking long and hard, I decided to take a class of everything. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, and was hoping that soon I would find something that I could truly do, and do well, for the rest of my life. It wasn’t until near the end of highschool that they finally started telling us that this job wont do, and that job wont make you any money, and you might not even be smart enough to follow this career path. “But” they would say, “choose something that is safe, and something that will always give you money for food, shelter and clothing.” That night, I decided to go to the highest point in town with my telescope. I looked through my telescope and saw stars so close, I felt like I could touch them. I reached out to grab one, and when I looked away from the telescope and into my hand, I realized I was millions of miles away, and all I had to show for it was an empty hand.
There is a single mother of three who works at a minimum wage job all day to make ends meet.
She tells her kids to dream of everything, and reach for the stars. “One day” she says, “you might actually be able to reach out and grab one.” And while her kids go off and play, she sits on the couch, in the groove in the couch that has adjusted just for her; over the years she has sat in that exact same spot. She drinks her coca cola, and eats her leftovers from two nights ago. She’s watching the same shows she’s always watched: The daytime tv dramas she has recorded, that make her feel better about herself. In one scene, a mother can’t explain to her child who his father is as the music greatly intensifies, and the camera zooms in on the faces to add to the element of the scene. And at the scene, this single mother of three laughs. Outside, her kids are busy building a tree house. They are trying to get closer to the stars, because one day, they hope to reach out and grab one.
Sitting in a room somewhere, there is a girl dreaming about a love story. The girl is about 16 years old, and she already knows exactly who she wants the love story with, and exactly how she wants it to happen. She use to wonder about love and all of its grandeur and illusions, then she came across magazines like “17″ among others, and they made life a lot easier. Say this to them, do that with them, ignore there call for this long, and pretend you aren’t that interested when you text them. Look this way. Act that way. Say this. Don’t ever do that. “Thank god love is all laid out for us in these guidebooks” she thinks to herself, “I cant imagine how people in the olden days found and kept love.”
When I was younger, I used to sit around with my friends for hours talking about the most random things. Someone would say something, and we would react with, “nooo way, that can’t be true,” or “no way did that happen!” And so would begin hour-long debates, with everyone choosing their own side of the argument to defend. We had no Google or internet to find the answers to our questions, and hence would sit for hours and wonder and wonder about our world.
There is a man who is sitting behind his desk at work, doing everything imaginable, other than the work he should be doing. He’s been in this rut at work for over a year. The job is about as routine as a job can get. All his company does is make novelty star-shaped notepads, and it’s the man’s responsibility to make sure everyone is getting their correct order. Make phone calls. Send emails. That’s all there ever is. But it pays the bills. Every morning, he can’t believe that his dreams aren’t real, and that they are over, and he has to once again start the day. He gets to work, and systematically throughout the day can’t wait until he is off work, so he can go home and finally enjoy his day, doing whatever he wants to do. The possibilities are endless, “but” he thinks, “I just need this work day to end before real life can begin.” He counts down the seconds on the clock until the work day is finally over. He wants to read a book, go for a hike, drive around and get lost, go visit an old friend, maybe get in a ball game or play catch with a friend or neighbor. He might even draw or work on the novel he’s been putting off. If he’s lucky, he might finally talk to that woman he often sees at the coffee shop near his work. But the commute home from work tires him so. He has the motivation somewhere deep inside of him to still maybe do one of those things he had been planning to do all day. “But” he thinks, “Maybe a tv episode or two to relax won’t hurt.” He promises himself that he will get around to living life, once American Idol is over. Or maybe he’ll do it tomorrow.
There is a coffee shop around the corner where all of life can change in an instant. A mere moment can change the entire course of history, or maybe just the history for an individual or few. People have a hard time believing that something as simple as a coffee shop can hold such power, but that’s because they don’t sit and observe its magic. For instance, there is a woman who comes into this coffee shop everyday around 5pm. It’s on her way home from work, and being a single mother of three, she needs all the coffee help she can get. Not many people notice this women, except for a few. Similarly, there’s this one gentlemen who also comes to this coffee shop everyday around 5pm. Its right next to his work, and he needs the coffee for his long drive home from work; and besides, he has many plans for today, and many methods to really live life, but first, the cup of coffee. He looks at this lonely, lost woman, every single day. But she seems too lost in her thoughts to really notice him, or anyone else for that matter.
Here is where the power of the coffee shop really comes in. Lets imagine today is a Thursday. The man sees the lonely women again, and thinks of something to say to approach her. If he doesn’t approach her today, he will never see her again; the women will suddenly have a change of whim, and start going to a different coffee shop closer to her home, starting tomorrow. There is nothing attaching her to this coffee shop, so for her the decision is quite easy. If this does happen, the man and the single mother of three will never see each other again. They will go on to live their own versions of what they think life should be. Him, stuck in his routine job until he one day may or may not meet a women that he loves enough to marry. He will continue to work at his job until he is old enough to retire, and live out the rest of his days in a retirement community. All of this most likely will happen, if he doesn’t approach the single mother of three.
But. there is a moment. A mere chance, that something wonderful may happen. If only the man thinks of someway to say hello to this women, he would realize that she would, after the initial shock of someone actually talking to her, smile and say hello back to him. They would then nervously and awkwardly make a conversation out of it over a cup of coffee, and start learning that they have more in common with each other than either thinks. They would fall in love, and soon would learn that they each have exactly the right type of motivation for the other to achieve their real goals.
He would quit his dead-end job, and become a fifth grade teacher; partly because he loves kids and partly because he still believes it’s too late for him to personally live out all of his dreams, but it’s definitely not too late to show someone else to theirs. He would become a phenomenal teacher, and every other day he would tell his kids what his father told him to always do. “Dream as high as you possibly can. Reach for the stars and one day you might actually grab one,” he would tell them, and those kids would go home dreaming of wonderful things they could see and become.
She would become an actual mother to her three kids, instead of just letting school and television raise them. She would finally sit down with her 16-year-old daughter and tell her love isn’t written in a magazine; rather love is something that happens when you aren’t really expecting it to. Love happens all the time, everywhere, and it isn’t scripted. And once the single mother and the man got married, they would go on to have a life full of adventures and happiness. Their kids would grow into strong individuals who know what they want out of life.
There is that moment, inside of the coffee shop. All it would really take, for the entire history of things to change, is that simple, “Hello.” After a while, the man has nearly given up all his courage to do anything, when he finally decides he must do something. So he takes out one of his work notepads, writes the word “hello” on it, and goes over to give it to the single mother of three, not entirely sure if he will have the nerve to actually give it to her.
Christopher went back to his teacher the next day, happy with the awesome collage he made, but disappointed with the happenings of last night. At recess, his teacher could tell something was upsetting Christopher, so he decided to go over and talk to him about it. Christopher told him the entire story, of getting up on that chair and reaching out as far as he could, but coming up empty. His teacher smiled, and told him that everyone fails the first few times. He told him that some people fail far more times than that even, but if you keep believing in yourself, and keep trying, one day you will open up your hand and find inside of it, a star.
The kid is still visibly upset, and not really buying his motivational speech, so the teacher decides to go about it a different way. He grabs a chair, and tells the kid to follow him outside. The teacher tells little Christopher to get up on the chair and try to grab a star again. Christopher, too smart to fall for a trick, quickly informs the teacher that there are no stars during the day. “Ah but there are! The stars are always there, but sometimes we just lose focus of them because they hide behind different things, or we lose track of them. It’s only in the still of night when we are alone, we see them once again.” Christopher still isn’t buying it, but he decided to play along. He gets onto the chair, and closes his eyes and reaches towards the clouds as far as he can. A few seconds later, he gets off the chair and goes to investigate his hand, expecting to find it empty like the night prior. He opens his hand, but it isn’t empty like before; inside of it is a star! Or rather, a piece of paper cut out like a star, and written on it is simply, “Hello.”