This true story is a lesson to keep moving towards your dreams and goals, or face regrets that haunt you, for the rest of your life. It's a story of lost dreams and chance encounters. It's a story of hope for today and tomorrow.
As a popular addition from our archives, we decided to update it and share it with our new readers from around the world. Welcome to another addition of The Inspired.
Here is our story....
It was late summer 2017 and I readied myself for another round of travel.
My wife Sylvia and I were just a day away from NYC to visit friends and experience the US Open tennis live. Then we'd drive north from NYC to Montreal to visit family and friends. And then I was off to Europe on my own. First to London and then Croatia.
I was excited by the prospects: the many stories and experiences to surely fill the pages of The-Inspired.com.
But before any of that could start, the phone rang...
My dad needed something. It was a specialty item not easily found in their homeland of Croatia. As I tried to finished the call early, my father continued, explaining the intricate details and measurements of what he needed, in excruciating detail.
“I drew a picture too. Wait a few minutes. Your mom will email it to you.”
I printed the picture, feeling inadequate in doing so, and proceeded to my local Home Depot, just one day before our travels began.
For those readers outside of North America, Home Depot is a place us Canadians and Americans visit for overpriced do-it-yourself home repair items. We all know its overpriced, we all complain about the mark ups, but we all still go and pay because, yes it’s convenient.
And we here all love convenient, almost as much as we love shiny new things like the quiet-closing KOHLER toilet seat covers from the Santa Rosa collection. A bathroom must-have people! Wait...where did I just go? Ok I'm back again. On with the story.
Brian at Home Depot knew exactly where I could find the item I was in search of - a metallic plastic toilet roll dispenser for my parents.
This part did not surprise me, Home Depot employees are pros in their respective fields. These home repair wizards will always find your item, or offer you another solution.
But what did catch me off guard was that Brian, possibly early 50's, kept starring down at the piece of paper my dad had given me to assist in our toilet roll holder search.
"This is really remarkable," Brian said, as he looked down, his back slightly crooked like he'd had an accident, his unshaven appearance not matching his bright and neatly pressed orange Home Depot apron.
“So you dad drew this?”
"Is your dad a draftsman?"
"No" I replied, "But he is a jack of all trades.
“Really.” Brian Said.
“He's a carpenter, or was, but he could have been a draftsman, or a butcher, a car mechanic, architect, engineer or an astronaut probably."
"Wow, well this is incredible. I've never seen someone go into so much trouble drawing a toilet roll holder before." Brian said, not looking away from the drawing as we stood in the middle of a long hardware aisle.
Brian was right. There was a lot of detail here, for just a toilet roll holder.
I looked at the photo again, noticing the term “Toilet Paper” scribed in full glory, with a perfectly placed arrow.
The arrow taunted me.
Was it really necessary?
Thats my dad for you though, a perfectionist. He was always doing this kind of stuff - detailing all things, for the lowly IQ'd around him.
A new idea crept into my head.
What if my dad drew the toilet roll holder in so much detail because he didn’t think I, ME, Goran, his only son, would be able to find it IF he drew anything less?
The idea festered like an ugly boil that needed to burst.
Self-doubt, negative thoughts, present themselves in unexpected times and places.
As I brushed my home renovation and other IQ insecurities aside I came back into focus, to notice something bizarre…
Brian had not moved.
He just kept starring at the draftsman masterpiece of the toilet roll holder.
Brian had gone to another place and time.
Something inside the photo pulled Brian in.
What did Brian see inside this sacred picture, with its perfect geometric right angles and compass laden half-moon circles?
It turned out, Brian had gone back in time, to what could have been.
To what had never become.
I let him be for a few more seconds, and then politely asked where I could find this hallowed holy grail of toilet roll holders.
Brian looked up, and said, "Ah, I’m sorry. Yes of course, please follow me."
As we walked through the warehouse department store, past old tiles locked in aging plastic wrap, begging for a new home, around empty washing machines waiting for dirty socks and towels to give them purpose, towards our final destination, the washroom fixtures, Brian, someone I had just met a few minutes ago, in plumbing aisle 6, began to tell me his life story.
"When I was young, around twenty, I actually dreamed of becoming a draftsman." Brian said quietly.
"And the toilet roll drawing brought me back to those days. It's funny really. Becoming a draftsmen was so important to me… once before. But it's not something I've thought about for a long time."
Brian continued in detail about his life.
As it turned out, Brian's modest dream of becoming a draftsman unraveled painfully one night when, after a harmless night drinking with friends he tragically broke his neck diving into a shallow river near home.
"That river," Brian said, "I must have dove into that river a dozens times before. Never had any issue. But it must have been really low that night. I knew something was wrong with my neck right away."
This I would assume, should be the case when you break your neck and are still somehow alive.
As Brian left for the hospital, his friend, who he’d never see again after that night, shouted something Brian was never to forget: "Don't worry, its not all bad, you'll probably meet your future wife at the hospital!"
It was a strange thing to say, Brian recalled, but then an even stranger thing happened.
After many months of treatment from what was feared to be partial paralyzation of his legs and arms, Brian eventual made a partial, but not complete recovery.
And then he married his nurse!
The person who stood at his side at his weakest. Who cared for him when no one else did.
But unfortunately for Brian, what appeared as a silver lining went south - in a bad way.
His accident and eventual marriage prevented him from following his dream to become a draftsman.
Time went by, a lot of time.
Brian had a family, the marriage had it's issues, new commitments filled his space.
Then the marriage collapsed, they divorced, she took almost everything, and Brian didn't have much left.
Which brought him here, eventually, working at Home Depot, helping inept sons with limited home renovation experience find toilet roll holders for their brilliant know-it-all fathers.
Purgatory, if you will, was probably something like this. Just add an FDA approved serving of David Hasselhoff cheese burger rock ballads.
Toilet roll holder in hand, I took the time to listen, amazed by Brian's story and by how he was comfortable enough to share it with me.
When Brian finished I told him something he may have forgotten long ago - that it was never too late to go back and work towards a dream.
That some people wait so long that they forget what their dream was, but Brian clearly still held on to his.
I told Brian it probably wouldn't be easy, but school's come a long way in the past twenty years, and there were likely many more options, online classes and correspondence and technical colleges, to make it a reality.
I encouraged him to take a look.
I encouraged him to find hope.
And then to walk the talk, I explained that after a seven year break I had rediscovered my love for drawing charcoal art and for writing. That I finally decided to do the things I loved in life.
Brian thanked me for the advice, I wished him all the best, and I left the store shiny new toilet roll holder in hand, wondering if Brian would understand that if he could just find that hope once again, he’d be able to realize his passion, and avoid living out the remaining days of his life with a lost dream
A harsh truth for us all to remember.
Dreams never die. But they do fade away and become forgotten when we fail to nurture them.
THE INSPIRED TIP: What is the best indicator of if you will reach success in your goal? It's one thing: HOPE. In Daniel Goleman's book 'Emotional Intelligence' he cites several research experiences proving that students or athletes that had high levels of hope were most likely to reach their goals, despite unforeseen roadblocks and obstacles.
And in life there will always be unforeseen obstacles. But never let your hope drop. Put in the work, and keep the faith. Then, anything is possible.