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Voice: Apple blossom dreams need not fade

February 27, 2001

I call them my "apple blossom dreams."

The dreams began with a gift from a friend, Wallace Mills, the brother of a classmate, when I was 16. The gift was a small book of English poetry, which set off the metronome in my mind and launched my poetry-writing career.

Sixty-four years ago, when I was a high school sophomore, my friend Louise and I took our lunches and notebooks to an apple orchard adjacent to Soddy-Daisy (Tenn.) High School, and as apple blossoms cascaded about us, we dreamed glorious (and grandiose) dreams of literary futures as we pencilled our first poems in notebooks with marbleized cardboard covers.

Louise and I parted ways after high school. She was a highly intelligent, sensitive girl, but her life went down in waste because of mental illness. She was institutionalized.

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I became a photojournalist, but felt I was a failed writer because I had failed to realize my apple-blossom dreams. It was not until cancer forced me into early retirement that I could revitalize my apple-blossom dreams.

Instead of going for the gold, I felt the need to use my small talent to bring inspiration and encouragement to others — this becoming a sort of Johnny Appleseed of apple-blossom dreams.

I do not know how well I have succeeded. Once in a great while I receive a letter telling me a poem or essay or story has brought new insight to, or has helped a reader, through a troubled time.

I would rather have such a letter than any literary award — Nobel and Pulitzer included.

If I have failed, I take comfort in the words of the poet who wrote: "Who is to say I which is wisest or best/the dream in the heart/or the dream possessed?"

What is your dream? Have you lived for it? Have you kept it vibrantly alive, never letting it grow dim?

If you have, there is a wonderful chance that your dreams will come true.

Pity those who do not dare to dream — they are the living dead.

MERRY HARRIS

El Centro

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