I thought of about a thousand dream jobs: Bookstore owner. Coffee shop owner. Pilot. Astronaut. Dancer. Firefighter. Professional athlete. Massage therapist. And I reached out to folks in several of those jobs, and wound up with an actor, a novelist, and a brewer.
The story was fun to write. All three of my interviewees really loved what they were doing. All three were firmly in the follow-your-dreams category. All three are still following those same dreams, and apparently still enjoying it.
I found the actor in a roundabout way. A woman who'd interned at the newspaper had gone on to work at America's Most Wanted. I called her, and she put me in touch with a producer there, who connected me to a woman named Jacque Temple who had participated in a few reenactments, but had graduated to being one of their "operators" — the actors who pretend to answer the phones on-air while real operators handle calls in a call center off camera.
I met her twice, I think, when I was working on the story, and have met her once since then. I have closer friends, of course, whose impact on my life is more tangible, more clear, easier to explain, but Jacque is absolutely my hero. She is passionate and fun and supportive. She is stunningly beautiful, I think — it is hard to separate her outer beauty from the radiance that touches everyone she meets — but they're both there, to delightful effect. I invited her to join a group of friends for dinner in New York one night, and she immediately connected with one of my very best friends, and they maintain that connection still, two years later. She lives a life almost too brave for me to comprehend, much less live, in which she pursues vigorously what she feels called to do. She is unfathomably optimistic.
We recently had this exchange:
Jacque: I'll bet you didn't know meeting you was a turning point in my life, and your friendship has made all the difference on the world. xoxI still don't know what she meant, exactly. But I know exactly what I meant.
[bzzzzgrrrl]: Aw, Jacque, I don't know what to say. Everything happens for a reason — but here I thought all this time the reason was so I could soak up your inspiring words (and deeds!). xox back atcha.
Day 10 of my month of gratitude: I am thankful for the people who so clearly happen into our lives for a reason. And for people who follow their dreams with so much joy that it seems to even the less brave among us like something that can and should be done.