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“A Dream Deferred” by Langston Hughes

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

In this case.

None of the above.

In this case, a dream came true!

We all have bucket lists. And on those lists are dreams that we one day hope to achieve. When we are young these lists are written in crayon and on them we write things like play in the NFL or become a movie star. But oftentimes, as we grow older. And we stop writing in crayon. These lists seem to fade away.

We convince ourselves that they were silly. We settle in to our 9 to 5 and we tell our children that they can be whatever they want to be in life. All the while, our lists written in crayon remains hidden. Or even worse. Forgotten.

I am guilty of this, I’m sure. On my bucket list is to one day publish a book. But I’m not sure how much of that is written in crayon and how much of it is written in pen. It sounds nice and there is a part of me that believes I can do it. But there is another part of me that thinks that it is just a dream. That maybe it won’t ever happen.

Not any more!

Last Thursday night I had the privilege of watching a friend, Devon Beck, fulfill one of his lifelong dreams. To perform at the Howard Theatre. And perform he did.

Up and down. Back and forth. Sweat and tears. And more than anything, passion and energy that moved all those who came to see him take the next step on his journey. It was incredible. More than anything, it was inspirational.

So if Devon can do it, then so can I.

I am usually not at a loss for words. But trying to put into words Thursday night’s experience is difficult. I remember when he first told me he had been invited to perform at the Howard Theatre. You see, he keeps his bucket list in his front pocket. And it drives him. And it motivates him to get better each day. He will not stop until he can mark off everything on his list.

And once he does. I know exactly what he will do next.

He will make a new one!

And he will work it.

Early last week I began to feel his energy. His excitement for Thursday night’s performance was palpable. When he told me last month that he was going to be performing at the Howard Theatre, I knew there was no way I was going to miss it. Driving up from the eastern shore and moments before he came on stage, I was nervous.

Not because I wasn’t sure how he would perform. But because I knew I was getting ready to witness a friend fulfill one of their lifelong dreams. How often does one get to do that?

The curtain rose. And with mic in hand, Devon gave everyone what they came to see. They got to witness their friend, their family member, their loved one put on the most important performance of his life to date. To date!

What was actually only thirty minutes, seemed much longer.

Cameras snapping photos. Phones recording video. And smiles all around. This was it. This was Devon’s moment.

How did he do?

There is no way to quantifiably measure someone’s dream being fulfilled. But anyone who was in the crowd after his performance. Who got to talk to him. Congratulate him. Shake his hand. Give him a hug. They could tell. They knew it was a success. And so did he.

The joy he displayed as he made his way around the crowd was infectious. He made it a point to speak to all those who had come to support him on this big night. And while he was the was one thanking us, deep down I think we were all thanking him.

For showing us what happens when you don’t give up on your dream. For inspiring us to believe in our own. For always taking the time to put people first. I will never forget the night I witnessed one of my good friends mark something off of his bucket list.

And while Devon’s performance was amazing, it wasn’t the part of the evening that moved me the most.

No, there was another brief but poignant moment from the night that I will never forget. It was getting late and I knew that not only did I have to drive back to the eastern shore, but I had to go to work the next day. So after Aaron Camper performed, who by the way was incredible, I looked for Devon so that I could say goodbye and congratulate him one last time.

I found him with little effort because he was the one with the biggest smile on his face. He was speaking with someone, but saw that I had come over to say goodnight. I gave him one last hug and told how him proud I was of him. He thanked me for coming and then said something that represents just the type of person Devon is.

He knew it was late, for me, and that I had about a two-hour drive home. So as I was about to go he said, “make sure you text me when you make it home.”


Here he was, having just given the most important performance of his life and yet he was thinking about my safety and well-being. I am honored to call him friend and I am quite certain that it won’t be long before he crosses the next item off his list.

By the way, I texted him at 12:36 AM. He texted me back one minute later.

text from devon

7 comments on “Some Dreams Are Not Deferred

  1. cvarsalona says:

    Some bucket lists are long. Some are short but all are worth aspiring for. We wish to dream big and reach for the stars. Why not? Your friend did so hooray for all those who wishes become realities. Now to make Summer Splashings an internet phenomenon with each poem like yours and Bailey splash across the Twittersphere.

    1. jonharper70 says:

      Thanks Carol. The work you put into all of your collaborative efforts is inspiring. I look forward to seeing it. My daughter is excited and honored to be included.

      1. cvarsalona says:

        I hope Bailey has shown her teacher and class the work she and Daddy published on Summer Splashings. Can’t wait to see what the Harper family will create for the fall gallery.

  2. iamvlewis says:

    So well written and expresses my passion for living, loving and teaching. We can all truly achieve those crayon lists if we dig them out of the aluminum tin cans and add more lines to make a more connected picture. Thanks for inspiring!

    1. jonharper70 says:

      Thank you so much. I really love the way you worded that and I believe it 100%.

  3. Hi there would you mind sharing which blog platform you’re using?

    I’m looking to start my own blog in the near future but I’m having
    a hard time selecting between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal.
    The reason I ask is because your design seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for
    something unique. P.S Apologies for being off-topic but I had to

    1. jonharper70 says:

      No worries. I use the cubic theme and find it very user friendly. It only costs about 100 dollars a year, which is well worth it for me. Good luck and let me know if I can ever help with anything.

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